Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Ex-Army Wives Who Feel Deserted

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Ex-Army Wives Who Feel Deserted

Article excerpt

Byline: By Megan Bolam

Life as an army wife has many attractions - cheap living, touring the world, and belonging to a community which embraces you as part of the Armed Forces family.

But what happens when wives are forced to flee their husbands to fend for themselves in a world they once rejected?

This walk down civvy street can be a terrifying experience for some women, leaving them distraught, destitute and unable to cope with the pressure of everyday life.

The Journal this week told how a 50-year-old law allowing army chiefs to decide how much soldiers pay to support their children has left a mother-of-three struggling to raise her family.

Jacqueline Banks, 32, of Dudley, North Tyneside, is entitled to pounds 289 a month from her ex-husband, a sergeant, towards bringing up her sons Jaye, 10 and Josh, nine.

Under the 1955 Army Act she has been forced to feed, care and provide clothing for her children on just pounds 150 a month.

Jacqueline, backed by North Tyneside MP Stephen Byers, is now calling for a change in the law to ensure all fathers take full responsibility for their children.

Others have stories to tell. For having spent four years living in the close-knit army community, Mary Ann Trigg, 30, claims it does not prepare anyone for the harsh reality of the real world.

The mother-of-five recently split up with her second husband, a soldier, after spending the past two years living on an army base in Munster, Germany.

She is now edging her way back into civilian life with the help of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA).

Mary Ann and her children Imogen, 13, Sam, eight, Toby, six, Caitlyn, five, and Michael, two, are sharing a SSAFA Forces stepping stone home with seven other families in Gateshead while they await a council home.

Four years ago Mary Ann was forced to face the world alone after her first husband, who was also a soldier, abandoned her.

Having lived in a rent-free home in Gutersloh, Germany, for two years with all of her living expenses and childcare costs covered, Mary Ann said she was shocked to find herself isolated with hungry mouths to feed. …

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