USA TODAY reports that suicide “rates among GI’s who are single or divorced double when they go to war, [but] the rate among married soldiers does not increase…”
“One of the big things we’re interested in now is digging into this marriage thing and saying, ‘What is it you get, by being married? And how could we put it in a bottle so we can give it to everybody, whether or not they’re married?” says Ronald Kessler, a psychiatric epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School who is working on the project.
I’ve written to Dr. Kessler to suggest that many of the things married soldiers get need to be budgeted, not bottled. Pay rates, VA and survivor benefits, housing quality and other tangible features of military life have all been documented to be better for married service members.
I also suggested looking at it from the other direction: what do unmarried soldiers get that harms them, and how do we take that away. For example, do they get assigned harder jobs or longer hours or more crowded barracks? That would hardly be surprising, as we have heard many examples of such assignments in civilian life. Do unmarried soldiers get more teasing (i.e., harassment) about their relationship status, or less sympathy when their relationships end? That would also mirror workplace complaints that we frequently hear from civilians.