Women at war: Understanding how women veterans cope with combat and military sexual trauma

Kristin M. Mattocks, Sally G. Haskell, Erin E. Krebs, Amy C. Justice, Elizabeth M. Yano, Cynthia Brandt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

146 Scopus citations


The wars in Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom, OIF) and Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom, OEF) have engendered a growing population of US female veterans, with women now comprising 15% of active US duty military personnel. Women serving in the military come under direct fire and experience combat-related injuries and trauma, and are also often subject to in-service sexual assaults and sexual harassment. However, little is known regarding how women veterans cope with these combat and military sexual trauma experiences once they return from deployment. To better understand their experiences, we conducted semi-structured interviews with nineteen OEF/OIF women veterans between January-November 2009. Women veterans identified stressful military experiences and post-deployment reintegration problems as major stressors. Stressful military experiences included combat experiences, military sexual trauma, and separation from family. Women had varying abilities to address and manage stressors, and employed various cognitive and behavioral coping resources and processes to manage their stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)537-545
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • Adaptation
  • Afghanistan
  • Coping
  • Iraq
  • Mental health
  • Sexual harassment
  • Stress
  • Trauma
  • USA
  • Veterans
  • War
  • Women


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