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Do Benefits Keep MilFams Together?

A new study shows that the military and the civilian population share virtually the same divorce rate, despite the tremendous stress and pressure faced by the military over the last decade. The possible reason? Pay and benefits.

The lead researcher on the study, published by the RAND Corp., says that the extra pay and, in particular, benefits servicemembers and families receive when they are married likely both increases the marriage rate in the military and keeps those families together in extremely stressful situations – situation that would likely break relationships in the civilian world.

Both the study’s lead researcher, Benjamin Karney, and Army chaplain Col. John Read, who is in charge of Soldier and family ministry for the service, said that strength and resiliency do likely play a part in keeping military marriages together in the face of unprecedented stress.

But, even though researchers can really only make an educated guess as to the cause, Karney said a rate of marriage above that of civilians and a rate of divorce close to or below the rest of society’s points to a single leading reason: the role housing allowances, insurance, child care subsidies,  counseling and other financial support systems play.

One of the key pieces of information missing here that could either fuel or kill Karney’s theory is the rate of divorce among former servicemembers and veterans – data no one currently tracks. The RAND Corp. is getting ready to launch a long term study examining that issue among many others. (You may even be randomly selected to participate in the study like we were).

The commenters on my story over here seem to think that this theory is a bunch of bunk. What’s your take?

About Amy Bushatz

Amy is the managing editor of Military.com’s spouse and family blog SpouseBuzz.com. A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for Military.com where she is an Associate Editor. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on NPR and in the New York Times. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.

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