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Veteran Women

Mental Health–Related Consequences of Military Service

Ganzer, Christine Anne PhD, PMHNP

AJN The American Journal of Nursing: November 2016 - Volume 116 - Issue 11 - p 32–39
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000505583.09590.d4
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The last two decades have seen increasing numbers of women entering all branches of the U.S. armed forces. Now that women in the military are no longer prohibited from holding direct combat positions, they are often exposed to traumatic events that place them at higher risk for mental health conditions. Nurses working within the Veterans Affairs (VA) system and those working in non-VA settings are likely to encounter female veterans. It's essential for all nurses to be knowledgeable about the mental health issues commonly seen in this population, and to understand the importance of screening, not only for mental health issues but also for physical conditions that may be related to service.

Numerous studies have focused on the mental health effects of deployment among military men, but very few have been conducted among military women. To learn more, the literature was searched for relevant articles published between January 2005 and December 2015. The research supports the contention that both active-duty and veteran women are at increased risk for postdeployment mental health problems, including posttraumatic stress disorder, military sexual trauma, and suicide. This article discusses the relevant research; identifies gaps in the literature; and addresses the nursing practice implications, including screening.

The author reviews research confirming that both active-duty and veteran women are at increased risk for postdeployment mental health problems, including posttraumatic stress disorder, military sexual trauma, and suicide—and also addresses the nursing practice implications, including screening.

Christine Anne Ganzer is an assistant professor at the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing, City University of New York. Between 2012 and 2015, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Veterans Affairs New York Harbor Healthcare System. Contact author: cganzer@hunter.cuny.edu. The author and planners have disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.

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