Thursday, March 10, 2011
From the AP:
For women in the military, there's a cold, hard reality: Their marriages are more than twice as likely to end in divorce as those of their male comrades — and up to three times as likely for enlisted women. And military women get divorced at higher rates than their peers outside the military, while military men divorce at lower rates than their civilian peers.
About 220,000 women have served in Afghanistan and Iraq in roles ranging from helicopter pilots to police officers. Last year, 7.8 percent of women in the military got a divorce, compared with 3 percent of military men, according to Pentagon statistics. Among the military's enlisted corps, nearly 9 percent of women saw their marriages end, compared with a little more than 3 percent of the men.
Like all divorces, the results can be a sense of loss and a financial blow. But for military women, a divorce can be a breaking point — even putting them at greater risk for homelessness down the road.
It has an effect, too, on military kids. The military has more single moms than dads, and an estimated 30,000 of them have deployed in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Why military women are more burdened by divorce is unclear, although societal pressure is likely a factor.
"It's a strange situation, where there's a fair amount of equality in terms of their military roles, but as the military increasingly treats women the same as it treats men in terms of their work expectations, however, society still expects them to fulfill their family roles. And that's not equally balanced between men and women," said David Segal, director of the Center for Research on Military Organization at the University of Maryland.
One speculation is that while more traditional men join the military, women who are attracted to military life are less conventional — and perhaps less willing to stay in a bad marriage.
About half of all married women in the military are married to a fellow service member, compared with less than 10 percent of military men. While it can be an advantage to be married to someone who understands military life, balancing two military careers poses challenges.
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