We wrote in our last post about rape as a weapon of war—a weapon that is used all too often by servicemen against women serving in their own military. Today we focus more on the effects of military service on women.
- 104 U.S. servicewomen, 33 of them only 18 years old, have been killed in Iraq (as of December 2011). See their faces and learn about them here.
- Thirty-six servicewomen have been killed in Afghanistan—along with hundreds if not thousands of Afghan women and children (as of August 24, 2012).
- Women veterans suffer higher rates of mental illness than male veterans, with particularly high rates of depression (http://www.newswise.com/articles/mission-unaccomplished-understanding-the-health-needs-of-our-women-veterans)
- Among women veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who were diagnosed with PTSD, 31% reported military sexual trauma (MST). See also this video.
- Women in the military abuse prescription drugs at a rate four times higher than nonmilitary women as well as somewhat higher than military men. See the report (opens in PDF) and watch this video.
- Within the 18 to 34 year-old age group, female veterans were three times more likely to kill themselves than their non-veteran counterparts. Also see a study reported on NPR.
- There are currently 55,000 homeless female vets. The rate of homelessness is declining among male veterans but increasing among women veterans
Limited access to benefits
- Service women and female veterans often have difficulty getting the benefits to which they are entitled.
Many servicemen and male veterans are also mistreated both while in the service and after discharge; we will consider some of those issues in a later post.
What does it reveal about a country when women are praised as patriots for volunteering for military service, sexually abused while in the service, and then become mentally ill and homeless following that service? What does it reveal about the current situation in our country when many working class women believe the only way they can get enough training and job experience to support themselves and a family is to put themselves in harm’s way?
Kathie Malley-Morrison, Professor of Psychology