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Nadine Mejia California State University, Fresno

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Presentation on theme: "Nadine Mejia California State University, Fresno"— Presentation transcript:

1 Nadine Mejia California State University, Fresno
Thesis Presentation Nadine Mejia California State University, Fresno

2 The Experiences of Army National Guard Female Veterans to Iraq and/or Afghanistan during the Time of the Global War of Terrorism

3 Background Information
The Global War on Terrorism result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. There were two major wars: Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). Soldiers have been involved for over 10 years and it is estimated that 2 million soldiers have been deployed (Friends Committee on National Legislation, 2011; Lara-Cinisomo et al., 2012) One in three returning Veterans from Iraq and/or Afghanistan will develop Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and returning Veterans have a higher prevalence rate for depression, anxiety, suicide, and substance abuse. (Friends Committee on National Legislation, 2011; Haskell et al., 2010; Veterans and PTSD Statistics, 2013) Returning Veterans experience communication breakdown and decreased relationship bond with family/friends (Pfefferbaum et al., 2011; Sherman & Bowling, 2011).

4 Description of Army National Guard Female Veteran Population
Served overseas in a warzone. Employed with the United States Army part-time and usually serve one weekend a month and two weeks during the summer. Not constantly in the military mindset, but live both a civilian and military life style. Longer deployment times. Do not train as often and are usually 5 to 10 years older than Army Active Duty Female Veterans (Pfefferbaum et al., 2011).

5 Research Questions and Gap in the Literature
Central Question How do Army National Guard Female Veterans experience deployments to Iraq, and/or Afghanistan during the time of the War on Terrorism? Sub Questions What are the mental health experiences of Army National Guard Female Veterans while deployed? What are the physical health experiences of Army National Guard Female Veterans while deployed? What are the hardships experienced by Army National Guard Female Veterans while deployed? How do Army National Guard Female Veterans experience home interpersonal relationships while deployed?

6 Theoretical Orientation
Trauma Theory Systems Theory Marked a shift in the perspective of individuals who experienced a traumatic event from the idea that they are weak to they are individuals who need aid in getting better. Addresses central dialectic of psychological trauma. Describes the cognitive processes that are involved with many mental health disorders Described as taking a holistic view of the individual and the myriad of micro, mezzo, and macro systems that affect the person’s experience of life and influence their view of future possibilities. This description is similar in concept to what people label as multisystem theory.

7 Methodology Phenomenological Study Phenomenon is serving overseas
Shared characteristics included: Female Active member of the National Guard Deployed to Iraq and/or Afghanistan while in the Army National Guard during the time frame of the War on Terrorism

8 Findings

9 Mental Health Each participant experienced some form and intensity of trauma. They shared a common perception of reality that consisted of trauma being part of their daily reality while deployed. This study found the participants utilized two main coping skills: suppressing emotions and mentally preparing for the worst. Many participants developed mental health concerns after they returned home and the chief complaint was anxiety.

10 Physical Health The participants of this study experienced a variety of physical health concerns which included: back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, TBI, pregnancy, exhaustion, rosacea, and the common cold. One participant was diagnosed with TBI and another participant became pregnant while deployed. The chief complaint for physical health was breathing problems due to the air quality, dust and sand, and burn pits in both countries.

11 Hardships While Deployed
There were several trends that emerged from the study that fall under this theme which included: leadership difficulties, living conditions, working conditions, and gossip. One of the coping skills for handling these hardships for the participants was building a bond with fellow Veterans that they were deployed with.

12 Home Interpersonal Relationships
All the participants reported having strong support systems from family and friends. The participants shared with their loved ones their experiences after they returned home. Two participants were going through a divorce and shared that was a hardship for them.

13 Theories Trauma Theory Systems Theory
The participants perceived trauma as a norm instead of abnormal because they were in a warzone and conflict and battle were their reality while deployed. When the participants returned home, they were still in that increased state of arousal and this lead to anxiety. Once the participants begun processing their past traumas upon returning home from deployment, mental health symptoms appeared to manifest. Systems Theory When the participants were involved with strong family support and close rapport with other Veterans, these systems affect the participants on the micro and macro level with having increased confidence and unit cohesion. When the participants had poor leadership this in turn led to a decrease in morale and confidence in the leadership. The participants would develop coping skills based on how these systems affected them.

14 Limitations and Suggestions for Further Research
Small Sample Size Researcher Potential Bias Further Research Research each theme separately Mental Health Physical Health Hardships While Deployed Home Interpersonal Relationships Comparison study of both conflicts OIF and OEF

15 Implications There are many subpopulations of Veterans
It is a disservice to cluster all Veterans together Foster further research Ensure cultural competency and confidence when working with diverse populations Training on the various subgroups of Veterans Employee services that are Veterans

16 References Friends Committee on National Legislation. (2011). Ten years later: talking points and by the numbers. Retrieved from Haskell, S., Gordon, K., Mattocks, K., Duggal, M., Erdos, J., et al. (2010). Gender differences in rates of depression, PTSD, pain, obesity, and military sexual trauma among Connecticut war Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Journal of Women's Health (2002), 19(2), Lara-Cinisomo, S., Chandra, A., Burns, R., Jaycox, L., Tanielian, T., Ruder, T., Han, B. (2012). A mixed-method approach to understanding the experiences of non-deployed military caregivers. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 16(2), Pfefferbaum, B., Houston, J., Sherman, M., & Melson, A. (2011). Children of national guard troops deployed in the global war on terrorism. Journal of Loss & Trauma, 16(4), Sherman, M., & Bowling, U. (2011). Challenges and opportunities for intervening with couples in the aftermath of the global war on terrorism. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 41(4), Veterans and PTSD Statistics. (2013). Veterans statistics: PTSD, depression, TBI, suicide. Retrieved from

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