Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Long Deployments Can Fray Faithful Times

The crowd starts to build around 11 p.m. at the Big Apple. It's still early, in singles time.

Women wear low-cut shirts; guys wear short-sleeved shirts that showcase their muscles.

They eye each other, buy a drink and approach.

The scene is a part of American culture.

But here, about a mile from the entrance to Fort Bragg, there's baggage attached to the pickup game. At every table, it's a safe bet that someone has a connection to the Army. That might mean a husband or wife overseas.

The atmosphere -- good-looking people and absent spouses -- creates a place where people will be tempted to cheat. It's up to individuals to decide whether they'll act on those temptations, patrons say.

Infidelity isn't new to our society. It isn't new to our city. And it isn't new to the Army. But as many Soldiers and their families deal with multiple deployments, maintaining a military marriage is getting more difficult.

Despite the Army's efforts to provide therapy and programs, cheating continues. But therapists, chaplains and other experts say it isn't more prevalent in the Army than in any other segment of our community.

"We can look at it as an Army command issue," said Dr. Jerry Powell, a retired Army chaplain who runs a family life center off post, "but it really comes down to a husband-and-wife issue."

Those issues vary, depending on the husbands and wives.

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