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Trauma Among Female Veterans: A Critical Review

NCJ Number
Trauma, Violence, & Abuse Volume: 8 Issue: 4 Dated: October 2007 Pages: 384-400
Heidi M. Zinzow; Anouk L. Grubaugh; Jeannine Monnier; Samantha Suffoletta-Maierle; B. Christopher Frueh
Date Published
October 2007
17 pages
This literature review documents the nature and prevalence of traumatic experiences, trauma-related mental and physical health problems, and service use among female military veterans.
The review shows that women veterans had experienced some type of trauma (81-93 percent); sexual assault sometime in their lives (38-64 percent); child sexual abuse (27-49 percent); sexual assault as an adult (24-49 percent); sexual trauma while in the military (30-45 percent); physical assault (46-51 percent); physical abuse as a child (35 percent); domestic violence (18-19 percent); and combat exposure (4-31 percent). Female veterans reported higher rates of trauma exposure than the civilian population. Women entered the military with significant trauma histories and were exposed to additional traumatic events while in the military. This suggests that military women are at risk for cumulative trauma exposure, significant occupational stress, and related mental and physical health problems. Female veterans are equally or somewhat less likely than male veterans to meet criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder; however, some research indicates that women veterans use more medical services than other veterans. Practice and policy should focus on reducing women's exposure to sexual assault and noncombat physical assault during their military service. Services for women veterans should address their trauma-related mental and physical health needs. Suggestions are also offered for future research in this field. 78 references