As the burdens of multiple tours of duty, absences by one or both military spouses from the home, combat injuries, and increased family responsibilities have fallen on military families, the rate of military divorces has begun to climb. According to recent divorce statistics released by the Pentagon, the military divorce rate in 2010 finally leveled off at 3.6 percent after climbing steadily from 2.6 percent in 2001.
Pentagon officials credited this leveling off of the military divorce rate to greater emphasis on strengthening family bonds among military family members and providing greater support programs to military families.
One such initiative is a pilot to provide access and information about quality child care programs to military families. Having access to quality child care is especially important for military spouses while their husbands or wives are deployed. The military spouse that is left behind to take care of home and kids faces added stress when job duties encroach on child care time. The pilot, by the Military Family and Community Policy, aims to reach military families that do not have access to free child care on a military base. Florida is one of 13 pilot states for the program, which provides information about child care for military families in their local communities. The Department of Defense also plans to construction more child care spaces to accommodate military families’ requests for child care.
These types of community supports will probably be necessary for years to come to bring down the military divorce rate. As one expert on military divorce noted, the leveling off of the military divorce rate in 2010 was not a “trend.” A military spokesperson for Blue Star Families added that her organization is hopeful that the leveling off in military divorces is a sign that the Department of Defense’s efforts to support and strengthen military families is finally showing dividends.