It sounds like a headline right out of a newspaper- TROOPS RETURNING FROM IRAQ FACE NEW BATTLE AT HOME. It's sad, but very true- the
Military divorce rate has risen 42 % during one of the country's longest wars.
“When troops return home, civilians think ‘OK, that’s it. It’s over.’ But that’s not true. The stress on our marriage of 13 deployments since 9/11 has been immeasurable.” – Valerie Gaff, former Air Force Senior Airman, wife of Air Force Master Sergeant. The divorce rate among military couples has increased 42 percent since the Afghanistan-Iraq wars began in 2001.
This staggering statistic comes as a result of thousands of couples who have endured multiple deployments resulting in years of separation. What’s worse, plans to pursue divorce or separation have shown to increase with each subsequent month a service member is deployed.
When Air Force Master Sergeant Todd Gaff received orders to deploy to Afghanistan in 2001, he and his wife, Valerie, never imagined it was only the first of 13 tours of duty in the region. With each return home, a new challenge is presented. “We had to renegotiate our roles, routines and relationship,” says Valerie. “While Todd was away, I was totally in charge and fully responsible for our children and household. When he returned, it was hard to let go of some of those roles. It was also scary getting reacquainted. By necessity, we both changed each time we were apart.”
According to FamilyLife, a nonprofit leader in marriage conferences since 1976, the first 90 days post-deployment are the most critical for military marriages. “That window is the proven time frame during which people develop habits and will set the tone for the future of the marriage. It’s critical for military couples to establish healthy habits quickly as they struggle to reconnect and restructure their families,” says FamilyLife founder and president Dennis Rainey. To help the transition to home and family, FamilyLife wants to provide military couples with The Art of Marriage, it’s proven DVD program for strengthening marriages and preventing divorce through simple, yet effective, insights.
“We would like to help spark a nationwide movement to ‘give back’ to those who have given so much to our country,” says Rainey. Because FamilyLife wants to help military couples to view The Art of Marriage, they are asking the public to consider three donation opportunities:
- TEXT $10. Make a $10 donation right now by simply texting OPS to 80888 to help a military couple to attend The Art of Marriage.
- DONATE. For a donation other than $10 donate online, go to www.ArtOfMarriageOps.com.
- HOST AN EVENT. Help a military couple in your community or church by hosting an event yourself! Text HOST to 85005
The importance of The Art of Marriage and the movement to help married military couples has caught the attention of Grammy-nominated, American Music Award and multiple GMA Dove Award winners MercyMe. “Trying to keep military families together is something I take very seriously. [This] gives us all an opportunity to offer these couples a fighting chance” -Bart Millard, Lead singer MercyMe.
Because Valerie Gaff has experienced the challenges of an 18-year military marriage, she understands the storms she and her husband have faced and encourages people to make a donation. “Civilians often don’t understand that though the battle overseas may be over, our troops must now come home and fight for their marriages,” says Gaff.
It's very easy to take your marriage for granted- when your spouse is not deployed or serving your country. I have many friends who have husbands and wives which are currently serving in different military branches, and I often find myself wondering how they have the strength to survive deployment.
I encourage you to take a few moments, watch this video- donate if you can- but simply share it with your friends, family, pastor, church, Mom's group, etc., to help spread the word about this great program that helps give back to the people and families which sacrifice so much for our freedoms.
To read more about the program, and ways to help, please visit TheArtOfMarriageOps.org.
GIVEAWAY: To help celebrate marriage, and spread the word, we are giving away a $20 Applebee's Gift Card to one lucky couple. To enter, simply fill out the RaffleCopter widget below. If it is not loading properly, please click here, and give it a moment.
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