Self-Reported Stressors of National Guard Women Veterans Before and After Deployment: The Relevance of Interpersonal Relationships
DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS EAST ORANGE NJ WAR RELATED ILLNESS AND INJURY STUDY CENTER
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With their rapidly expanding roles in the military, women service members experience significant stressors throughout their deployment experience. However, there are few studies that examine changes in women Veterans stressors before and after deployment. This study examines the types of stressors women Veterans report before deployment, immediately after deployment, 3 months after deployment, and 1 year post-deployment. Descriptive data on reported stressors was collected at four time points of a longitudinal study HEROES Project. Open-ended responses from the Coping Response Inventory CRI were coded into six possible major stressor categories for analysis. Participants were 79 Army National Guard and Army Reserve female personnel deploying to Operation Enduring Freedom OEF or Operation Iraqi Freedom OIF who were surveyed prior to deployment. Of these participants, 35 women completed Phase 2, 41 completed Phase 3, and 48 completed Phase 4 of the study. The results identified six major stressor categories 1 interpersonal i.e., issues with family andor friends, 2 deployment-related and military-related, 3 health concerns, 4 death of a loved one, 5 daily needs i.e., financialhousingtransportation concerns, and 6 employment or school-related concerns. At all time points, interpersonal issues were one of the most common types of stressor for this sample. Daily needs concerns increased from 3 months post-deployment to 1 year post-deployment. The authors conclude that interpersonal concerns are commonly reported by women Veterans both before and after their combat experience, suggesting that this is a time during which interpersonal support is especially critical. We discuss implications, which include the need for a more coordinated approach to women Veterans health care e.g., greater community-based outreach, and the need for more and more accessible Veterans Affairs VA services to address the needs of female Veterans.
- Personnel Management and Labor Relations
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics