Challenges and Needs Faced by Female Combat Veterans

By Elvia R. Krajewski-Jaime, Markus Whitehead and Jennifer Kellman-Fritz.

Published by The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society

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This article presents findings of a study conducted to identify stressors that may contribute to mental health issues of military female veterans. Female members in the U.S. Armed Forces currently occupy more non-traditional roles; therefore deployment to combat zones, commonly reserved for males, is being taken on by females. While at the present time females serving in the military are not allowed to serve in combat occupations, the reality is that many are being placed in combat roles or environments. Consequently, many are now confronted with stressors related to combat and multiple deployments. This study was based on a descriptive, non-probability, snowball design. In cases where participants displayed a reluctance to share some information in front of counterparts who may have been at a higher or lower rank level; subsequent semi-structured, one-to-one interviews were conducted. The latter approach proved more effective in gathering important information, such as issues of military sexual trauma (MST) and issues of intimacy upon re-entering the home environment. This study was conducted before January 2013, when Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced the lift of the ban on women serving in combat. Therefore, future studies will need to be conducted to discern how these stressors will affect them in their new role as active combatants.

Keywords: Female Combat Veterans, Females in the Military, Military Sexual Trauma (MST), Mental Health and Military Females, PTSD and Female Combat Veterans

The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.73-83. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 413.890KB).

Dr. Elvia R. Krajewski-Jaime

Professor and Faculty Mentor in the Bridges to the Doctoral Program, School of Social Work, College of Health and Human Services, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA

Elvia R. Krajewski-Jaime is a professor of social work at Eastern Michigan University. She has directed the School of Social Work, the Institute for the Study of Children, Families, and Communities, the Center for Community Building and Civic Engagement, and, most recently, the School of Social Work Graduate Program. Her teaching, research, and practice efforts have been focused in the mental health area, particularly with culturally diverse populations. She holds a Baccalaureate degree in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master’s degree in Social Administration from Temple University, and a Ph.D. in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin.

Markus Whitehead

Graduate Student, School of Social Work, College of Health and Human Services, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA

Markus Whitehead is a Clinical Social Worker and Probation Officer in the Toledo Municipal Court and is a supervisor in both the Clinical Laboratory and the Mental Health Clinic at the Ohio Air National Guard. He holds a Baccalaureate degree in Social Work from Lourdes College, a Master’s degree from Eastern Michigan University with a concentration in Mental Illness and Chemical Dependency, and is an Honors Graduate as a Specialist in the United States Air Force Mental Health area.

Dr. Jennifer Kellman-Fritz

Associate Professor and Director of the Field Office, School of Social Work, College of Health and Human Services, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA

Jennifer Kellman-Fritz is associate professor and Director of Field Placement in the School of Social Work at Eastern Michigan University. Her research interests include the intersection of social work with criminal and juvenile justice, child welfare, and service learning. She holds a Baccalaureate degree in Sociology, a Master’s degree in Social Work, and a dual Ph.D. in Social Work and Sociology from the University of Michigan.