Women service members, veterans, and their families: What we know nowedit
The purpose of this paper is to highlight what we know now about female service members, veterans, and their families. The experiences of U.S. female service members and veterans are more complex than previous eras and significant demographic changes have taken place. U.S. female veterans are more likely to be younger, come from ethnic and racial minority groups, have children, and combat exposure. U.S. female service members report high rates of sexual violence and they are more vulnerable to homelessness and unemployment when compared to previous female military cohorts. U.S. female service members and veterans are also at higher risk for significant mental and health issues. Children and adolescents of women service members and veterans may also carry a heavy burden as a result of lengthy deployments. A majority of female service members and veterans will utilize community based healthcare and social services, therefore, it is essential that all healthcare providers understand the unique needs of this cohort of women. Practice implications at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels are discussed. Qualitative and quantitative studies that expand our understanding of women’s experience in the military and as veterans are encouraged.