Reintegration and readjustment experience, identity, and social support for women veterans returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom : a qualitative studyedit
The experiences of women veterans returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF) were explored with 18 women veterans selected from a larger longitudinal Veterans Administration Women Veterans Cohort Study from the New England and Indiana catchment area. This qualitative study focused on veteran’s perception of social support, identity, and the challenges of readjustment and reintegration to civilian life. Axial coding resulted in 38 codes that were distilled into five cross-cutting themes including participants experienced both identity centrality and identity threat; frequently relied on external supports (family, friends, and community) and internal supports (female military members and command); gender related military experiences shaped how participants viewed themselves; readjustment struggles and accessing social support were linked post deployment; and housing and employment post deployment were important factors influencing the reintegration experience. Implications of the findings for practice and research were drawn.