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Untying the knot

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Another statistic revealed earlier this month again put Jefferson County in a poor light.

In December, we learned that Jefferson County tied Hamilton County for the second-highest unemployment rate in the state. And on Feb. 13, the Albany Business Review reported that Jefferson County has the second-highest rate of divorce or annulment per capita in the state.

Some in Jefferson County are pointing to a sizable portion of our population as the main driver: Fort Drum. That wouldn’t be surprising as those with high-stress jobs are more vulnerable to marital problems.

Members of the military are exposed to more than their fair share of stress. Long-term deployments and the effects of war on soldiers obviously play roles in troubled relationships.

Servicemen and -women today are subjected to pressures previous military generations did not face. Our nation remains in the longest period of war in its history, and multiple deployments to theaters of conflict is relatively new in the history of war for the United States.

Adjusting to the different climates takes its toll on military personnel, and all this adds up to future problems. The military has sometimes been slow to diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder in service members, and personnel frequently seek professional help outside the military out of fear that their careers could be put in jeopardy.

Representatives of Fort Drum have pointed out the many programs they offer to help couples work through their difficulties, and it’s good that military personnel and their spouses have such resources. They need to make use of these services while committing to strengthening their relationships.

But some people don’t believe the local divorce rate can be pinned primarily on military couples. In a Feb. 17 story in the Watertown Daily Times, family law lawyer Kathy L. Quencer of Watertown said the county’s median age of 32.6 may account for a higher divorce rate. The median age for the rest of the state is 38, according to the county.

In 2010, New York state began allowing no-fault divorces. All of these factors have undoubtedly added to a trend we hope will reverse itself soon.

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