Why Women Join the Military: Enlistment Decisions and Postdeployment Experiences of Service Members and Veteransedit
Over the past three decades women’s enlistment has continued to increase. In an effort to help social workers better meet the needs of female veterans, this study sought to learn women’s enlistment motivations and postdeployment experiences. This qualitative study was nested within the Women Veterans Cohort Study. Using a semistructured interview guide, authors interviewed 18 enlisted female service members and veterans. The themes that emerged, based on grounded theory, included not only opportunity and calling, but also outcomes. Unexpectedly, enlistment resulted in a professional military career, with over half of the participants making the military their life’s work. Further study on the motivation, retention, and the reintegration needs of women postmilitary is necessary, particularly with military recruitment targets of 20 percent women by the year 2020 and the increased awareness of the military as a potentially hostile work environment for women.