Mental Health Needs of Military and Veteran Women: An Assessment Conducted by the Service Women’s Action Network
Date of this version
Needs assessment data from the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) were analyzed to explore the top-reported concerns of military women. The final sample by military service status included active-duty service members (n = 178) and veterans (n = 829). For active-duty women, associations were sought between demographic variables as they predicted outcome variables of gender bias, issues with recognition, and harassment/assault. For veteran women, associations were sought between demographic variables as they predicted outcome variables of poor mental health, difficulty connecting with fellow women veterans, and financial problems. Active-duty women in the present study reported that they had previously faced issues with gender bias in the workplace (31.7%), had trouble getting public recognition as military professionals (11.7%), and had experienced sexual assault or harassment during their time in service (12.8%). Education predicted the likelihood of reporting harassment or assault (OR = 0.25). With regard to concerns, female veteran respondents most often reported having experienced challenges with mental health (32.1%), financial stability (30.4%), and connectivity with a community of women veterans (29.4%). Service era statistically and practically predicted all three issues among veterans, with the post-9/11 cohort being most at-risk. Primary findings from this study suggest links between concerns that women report while serving on active duty along with poor outcomes reported by women veterans post-transition are indicated. Recommendations include targeted programming for women veterans and service members alike, with significant attention paid to the improvement of services at points of separation and transition.