The divorce rate for Army soldiers after deployment has risen steadily over the past three years, according to Department of Defense statistics cited by the Belleville News-Democrat. In an effort to help soldiers and their families cope with the pressures of deployment and ultimately reverse this trend, the Illinois National Guard is holding training seminars for its clergy in March.
About 19,000 Illinois National Guard servicemen and women have been deployed to active duty since September 2001, the article reports.
A press release from the state's National Guard provides some more details about its "Tying the Yellow Ribbon" campaign, consisting of 10 so-called "Reintegration Family Academies" that are open to families with a deployed soldier in any branch of the military. However, the Guard notes that the seminars are specifically targeted to families of soldiers in the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
The program provides a variety of resources for military families, including representatives from the military's medical insurance agency, the Illinois Dept. of Veterans Affairs and the Internal Revenue Service. Notably absent from the list are Illinois family lawyers, although the Guard hopes to minimize the need for divorce lawyers.
However, the Illinois Army and Air Guard Judge Advocate General's Office provides several resources related to military divorce on its web site. The FAQ section linked above covers issues of marital property, treatment of military retirement pay and the finer points of the Uniformed Services Former Spouse's Protection Act.
In the Guard press release, 2nd Lt. Justin Anweiler spoke about the importance of avoiding the need for divorce attorneys in the first place:
"Reintegration is not just a program for soldiers after a deployment, it's something his or her entire family must also undergo as everyone readjusts to changes."