Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Military Marriages, Strained By War, Beginning To Heal

Military Marriages, Strained By War, Beginning To Heal
Huffington Post
David Wood
Posted: 07/03/2013

HATTERAS, N.C. -- Staff Sgt. Joe Payne, an Army combat engineer, survived Afghanistan. It was coming home seven years ago that shattered his marriage and nearly killed him.

"When he got home safe we thought it was the end of the biggest battle," Joe's wife Mary, now 31, told The Huffington Post. "We didn't realize that the biggest battles were still ahead."

A decade of war has taken a toll on the nation's military families. For years they have been lauded for their resilience, for enduring frequent deployments and the physical and mental wounds that often accompany their loved ones when they return. But now, with the pace of deployments easing, with combat troops retiring from the familiar structure of military service and trying to adjust to civilian life, marital strains are emerging.

A grinning, easy-going teenager, Joe Payne had enlisted in 1997 right out of high school in Asheville, N.C. He loved military life, including a 2003 deployment to Iraq. He and Mary were married in 2004. During his second tour, in 2005-2006, he traveled Afghanistan's roads to hunt down hidden improvised explosive devices, the deadly homemade explosives that have killed thousands of American troops and Afghans. These "route clearance" missions are among the military's most dangerous. Death was everywhere. Payne himself was shaken and stunned by dozens of blasts and was knocked unconscious twice.
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