Divorce rates among members of the U.S. military leveled off in 2010 after years of increases, according to new statistics from the Department of Defense.

Since the start of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001, the military divorce rate has increased from 2.6 percent to 3.6 percent in 2009. In 2010, that rate remained level for the first time in five years.

The stabilization of divorce cases may indicate that a variety of programs aimed at supporting military marriages are effective. Programs such as Blue Star Families and the Army Family Covenant are available to provide counseling services to military marriages and families and reduce the stress caused by frequent deployments. General George Casey, the Army chief of staff, recently said the Army plans on investing an additional $9 billion into its Army Family Covenant program in 2011, according to Military.com.

However, while the stabilization is a positive sign, Benjamin Karney, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, warns that it does not indicate that divorce cases among military families are actually decreasing.

“This doesn’t say it’s stopped moving. When you see gradual decreases year to year, yes that’s a trend. But a stop for one year? We can’t say that’s a trend,” he told the military news website.

Among civilians, the U.S. divorce rate was 3.4 percent in 2010, slightly below military levels, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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