Date of Conferral
Dr. Lillian Chenoweth
Many transitional challenges have affected female veterans after returning from serving in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The number of females joining the military and becoming involved in combat has increased within the past 10 years. Research exists on the transitional challenges of male veterans. However, little research exists on the reintegration challenges faced by female veterans. As these females become veterans, they are more visible in the Veterans Affairs Health Care System. Given this increase in number of female veterans, it is important to address transitional challenges experienced by females who served in Operations Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF/OEF) postdeployment. For female veterans, the transitional experience will impact their responses to readjustment in civilian life. Selder's transitional theory and Schlossberg theory provided the framework for this phenomenological study. Using snowball sampling, 5 female veterans who served in combat during the past 5 years were selected and interviewed about their lived experiences using an open-ended interview guide. Data from the interview responses were inductively analyzed for themes and patterns. Using NVivo11 for management of data analysis, the interview responses were transcribed, categorized, coded, and clustered, revealing 5 themes: reflection on deployment, health issues, support from family, environmental concerns, and readjustment into roles. The key findings revealed that female veterans who served in combat experienced complex challenges after reintegrating back into civilian life. The findings may contribute to positive social change by informing treatment plans and support programs for female veterans reintegrating back into civilian life.