First 90 days after deployment critical

Dec. 31, 2011 at 5:22 PM
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark., Dec. 31 (UPI) -- The first 90 days post-deployment are the most critical for U.S. military marriages, officials of a non-profit group that provides marriage assistance says.

Dennis Rainey, FamilyLife founder and president, said the divorce rate among military couples has increased 42 percent since the Afghanistan-Iraq wars began in 2001 and thousands of couples have endured multiple deployments resulting in years of separation.

"The first 90-day window is the proven time frame during which people develop habits and set the tone for the future of their marriage. It's critical for military couples to establish healthy habits quickly as they struggle to reconnect and restructure their families," Rainey said in a statement. "The most common stresses post-deployment include: unrealistic expectations, rushing the transition, renegotiating roles, realizing both spouses have changed during deployment and post-traumatic stress disorder."

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Todd Gaff said when he 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.

"We had to renegotiate our roles, routines and relationship" with each return home, Valerie Gaff said. "While he 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."

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