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Hanna Lerman


The present study examined men and women veterans diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorder (SUD). Women in the general public have been found to be at greater risk for a diagnosis of PTSD with life-long symptoms. Current literature involving military men and women veterans is at odds over which gender is more likely to have both PTSD and SUD. This study assessed the variables of gender and diagnosis. It also studied whether the age of female veterans affects their likelihood of having both PTSD and SUD. Archival data were gathered from the Veterans Administration (VA) for veterans seeking care at the VA during Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012. These data were stored on the VA Information Resource Center database; data came from VA medical diagnoses using the International Classifications of Diseases -9 (ICD-9). Participants were 38,656 women veterans and 785,052 male veterans. A chi-square test for goodness of fit revealed that male veterans were more likely than were female veterans to have the comorbid diagnosis of PTSD and SUD. This analysis revealed that women veterans in the 45 - 54 age groups were at greatest risk for the comorbid diagnosis. Women may not seek treatment at the VA because they lack childcare, it is dominated by mainly male veterans, and/or they may have a misconception of services for women. Part of social justice is including women veterans because they have historically been underserved by mental health and research. This study highlights the need for more research into improving health and mental healthcare for women at VA facilities.

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