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Could a return of R & R save military marriages?

Policy changes in the U.S. military may have lasting effects on families in Louisiana. According to officials, changes in 2012 reduced most deployments within the Army to a length of nine months. While this is not the case for all deployments, it eliminated the ability for soldiers to be granted environmental morale leave. Also known as R & R- rest and recuperation - the leave gave soldiers time to head home in mid-deployment and be with their families. Some believe that the elimination of this benefit may cause even more military divorces to occur.

According to the Pentagon, almost 30,000 military marriages ended in fiscal year 2011, with a divorce rate of 3.7 percent. This was the highest number of divorces in the military since 1999 and the percentage matched that seen in the year 2000, one year before the U.S. went to war in Afghanistan after the attacks of Sept. 11.

With the military still present in Afghanistan and other parts of the world, the stresses of war continue. These cause strains on individual members of the armed forces that extend into their families. Imagine coming home after 12 months at war to a family you started before deployment. The developmental rates of young children are incredible. Routines have been developed that can become disrupted by the reintroduction of a previously absent mother or father. The result can be tension.

Many service members complain of struggles reintegrating with their families. As one puts it, a family is a social unit that comes into its own traditions and assigns roles to each of its parts. If a father or mother deploys, they can't be involved in routine decisions that come to affect the path that family eventually takes in its development. On their return, everyone has to manage expectations about roles and responsibilities.

All this clearly poses significant challenges for military leaders, those who serve and their families. Regardless of how the issues get addressed, it is a reality that divorces will occur. When they do within the context of the military, the process can become complicated. Navigating the myriad laws that address military divorce can result in costly mistakes, so it's best to have the help of effective, experienced legal counsel.

Source: AL.com, "Military families fight for R&R time with soldiers during deployment," Jon Solomon, Dec. 24, 2012

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