Divorce mecca turned marriage savior?
Could a trip to Nevada save a marriage? It’s possible.

As part of a new $2 million Army initiative to save struggling marriages, couples could receive romantic getaway vouchers for Las Vegas, Reno or Lake Tahoe.

So far no one has used a voucher to travel to Nevada, but the Army hasn’t ruled out the state as a destination in spite of its one-time identification with divorce, said public affairs officials at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. Fort Campbell is one of the first bases to take advantage of the initiative designed to lower the 21 percent Army divorce rate, according to an Associated Press report. Lt. Col. Glen Bloomstrom of the Office of Chief of Army Chaplains, put the Army divorce rate at 40 percent.

So far, those from Fort Campbell who have used the vouchers have gone to Opryland in Nashville.

“We’re only 45 minutes from Nashville, so most of the stuff we’ve been doing is sending folks down there,” said Public Affairs Officer Cathy Gramling.

But that isn’t to say anyone has dismissed divorce capital Reno or Las Vegas. Gramling said the base’s chaplain hasn’t had contact with any Nevada businesses to facilitate vouchers but probably would if the opportunity presented itself.

“I’m sure people are going there on their own, just not with the vouchers,” the public affairs officer said.

Bloomstrom says the purpose of the program is not just to heal marriages but also to head off domestic abuse in military families. The retreats sometimes are part of a larger program involving courses on communication skills and forgiveness.

The army got involved in marriage retreats in the late 1990s when a Hawaii chaplain tried them with a unit that had a high divorce rate. The effort was given additional urgency by the war in Iraq, which has caused soldiers and spouses to be separated for long periods. Another factor was four murders of wives at Fort Bragg, allegedly by their soldier husbands.

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Dennis Myers

Dennis Myers was the news editor of the Reno News & Review. He was a journalist for more than four decades. In 1987-88 he was chief deputy secretary of state of Nevada. He was coauthor of Uniquely...