The Effects of Combat Exposure on the Military Divorce Rate
DeBaun, Matthew B.
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This research investigates the effect that combat exposure has on the divorce rate for military personnel. The thesis uses demographic data from the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) coupled with responses from the post-deployment health assessment (PDHA). The sample contains enlisted personnel from all four services who were married and deployed between 2001 and 2007. The probability of divorce after deployment was predicted using a probit model. Combat exposure is divided into two distinct categories, casualty experience and weapon usage. Casualty experience and weapon usage were used to create interaction terms with occupational specialties (combat arms, medical service, combat service, service support) and gender. Results indicate that in most cases, combat exposure will increase the likelihood of divorce. Additionally, a casualty experience tends to have a greater impact on divorce than does weapon usage. Specifically, weapon usage was found to increase the likelihood of divorce for personnel in the medical service (Navy) and service support (Army). A casualty experience increased the likelihood of divorce for personnel in combat arms (Marines, Army) and service support (Marines). Aside from combat exposure, the results indicate that divorce rates vary across occupational specialties and the likelihood of divorce is substantially higher for women.
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