Being married in the military is tough, even tougher as a member of the Special Operations Forces (SOF) community. There’s good reason fighter pilots and SOF operators have the highest rates of divorce in the military.  Type A personalties, exotic locations, travel, spouse home alone, pretty foreign girls, off-duty fun, add alcohol, and you have a recipe for divorce.

The US Military would be wise to make it harder for young, single service members to get married. They can start with pay and benefits.

Ever wonder why there’s so many young married couples in the US military? It’s simple – married service members get more pay and benefits than a single service member. The military creates a pay incentive that encourages young service members to get married as soon as possible. Get married and you make more money, and have the option to rent off base (post, if you’re Army).  It’s really that simple, and you don’t have to be an economist to figure out why there are so many young military couples.

I remember running into a young Navy couple in the early nineties at NAS North Island when I was stationed as a young Aircrew/Search & Rescue swimmer (before my SEAL days) with HS-6.


He, a young E-3 sailor who was tired of living pier-side onboard the USS Kittyhawk and sharing his 10×3 rack space with fifty of his best friends.

She, a cute young college girl attending SDSU who wanted a her rent paid for and free medical. They lived separate lives and in separate apartments.  Who could blame them for wanting this?  I ran into quite a few of these military couples in my day, and who can blame them.

The military would save millions of tax payer dollars if they’d just take the incentive away, or make it hard to get married before the servicemember reaches a certain rank or age. If he or she is worth it they’ll stick around anyway. And before you scoff at the military dictating the freedom to marry, remember that being in the military already comes with sacrificing many of the privileges that  civilians enjoy.

Until something is done about this, we have a system that encourages young people to marry for “friends with benefits,” and this practice is failing young servicemembers in the long term.

(Featured Image Courtesy: DVIDs)