- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 30, 2005

NEW YORK (AP) — The Army is now on the offensive against another enemy: a divorce rate that has soared in the past three years as longer and more frequent war zone deployments place extra strain on couples.

“We’ve seen nothing like this before,” said Col. Glen Bloomstrom, a chaplain who oversees family-support programs. “It indicates the amount of stress on couples, on families, as the Army conducts the global war on terrorism.”

From 2001 to 2004, divorces among active-duty Army officers and enlisted personnel nearly doubled, from 5,658 to 10,477, as total troop strength remained stable. In 2002, the divorce rate among married officers was 1.9 percent — 1,060 divorces out of 54,542 marriages; by 2004, the rate was 6 percent, with 3,325 divorces out of 55,550 marriages.

There’s no comparable system for tracking the national divorce rate, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 43 percent of all first marriages end in divorce within 10 years.

With divorce rates that have risen more sharply than in other service branches, the Army has broadened its efforts to help — offering confidential counseling hot lines, support groups for spouses, weekend retreats for couples, even advice to single soldiers on how to pick partners wisely. Col. Bloomstrom says he wants all 2,400 Army chaplains to be available for marriage-support work.

Sylvia Kidd, director of family programs for the private Association of the U.S. Army, urges military couples to seek help when needed but fears many spouses are too isolated.

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