Who are Today's Women Veterans

Background Information:

  • In the United States military, 14.3% of active duty personnel, 17.7% of the Reserves, and 15.5% of the National Guard are women.
  • Currently, about 11% of the US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are women.
  • Three quarters of military women are between the ages of 20 and 40.
  • Over 25% of women are from racial or ethnic minority groups; 26% are Black and 10% are Hispanic.

Experiences while in the Military:

  • Although still prohibited from serving in official combat roles, many women serve in combat support units, for example as police, pilots, truck drivers, and fuel suppliers.
  • Approximately 12% of women deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF; Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) report moderate levels of combat and up to 40% come under mortar or artillery fire.
  • 22% of women Veterans report "military sexual trauma" (MST) defined as sexual assault or severe and threatening sexual harassment during military service.

Post-military experiences (women seen in the VA settings):

  • Women Veterans report less perceived social support than male Veterans.
  • Women Veterans are less likely to receive substance abuse care than male Veterans (16.3% versus 71.2%).
  • Percent of medical diagnoses in OEF/OIF Veterans seen in the VA
  • 46% Musculoskeletal issues (e.g., joint pain, back pain)
  • 39% Mental disorders, with 15-17% diagnosed with PTSD