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Serving her country, sacrificing her marriage

According to Pentagon statistics, about 220,000 women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have faced the challenges of warfare, terrorist attacks, weather and terrain alongside their male counterparts. These women trained and learned to expect and to accept the unexpected during their tours of duty. Personal sacrifice is common, but it's hard to imagine that women prepared to sacrifice their marriages.

The truth is that military women are more than twice as likely to get divorced as military men. Enlisted women are three times as likely to divorce as enlisted men.

The Pentagon has provided the numbers, and researchers have studied them. We know that 7.8 percent of women in the military got divorced last year, while only 3 percent of military men did. The numbers are worse for enlisted women. The numbers for civilian women were better.

We also know that in the military single mothers outnumber single fathers. About 30,000 of those single moms have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We know that almost 50 percent of military married women are married to military men, but only 10 percent of military men are married to military women.

We also know that a divorced military woman has a better chance of ending up homeless than her male or civilian female counterparts.

What we don't know is why. What is it that increases the risk of divorce for these women?

We'll look at some theories in our next post.

Source: Associated Press, "Female GIs struggle with higher rate of divorce," 03/08/11

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