Joining Forces for Women Veterans: Family and Community Reintegration
Posted by sherrysaunders on October 28, 2010
Throughout American history, women have served our country valiantly in times of peace, war and conflict. For far too long, though, women veterans have been invisible. It wasn’t until the 1980 Census that women were asked if they had served in the U.S. Armed Forces. When finally asked the question, more than 1.2 million women responded “yes.” Every day women in the military proudly serve our country, but when they return home they often do not receive the recognition, benefits and services they have earned.
Women represent 15% of the military and are the fastest growing veteran population. Yet, tools and programs are still largely designed with men in mind and do not necessarily meet the unique needs of women veterans. Gender shapes men and women’s military experience as well as their transition process. Reintegration is a multi-dimensional process. The discussion below explores gender-based constraints to women veterans’ successful reintegration into their families and communities and promising practices for addressing those constraints.
The three constraints highlighted below – social isolation, family tension, and physical, mental, and emotional trauma – are not exhaustive. The three categories are meant to provide a broad overview of the types of reintegration constraints experienced by women. For each constraint several contributing factors are suggested including access barriers, faulty and harmful beliefs and perceptions, and social expectations regarding gender roles and responsibilities. To design effective programs and policies for women veterans, it is imperative that we understand the root causes of the constraints they encounter.
Examples of organizations that offer promising practices to addressing the unique reintegration challenges experienced by women.
The webcast of the Joining Forces for Women Veterans Inaugural Summit can be viewed online at your convenience.