Health and Psychosocial Readjustment of Gulf War Veteran Women


Name: Penny Pierce

Rank: Lt Col, USAFR

Organization: University of Michigan

Performance Site: Malcolm Grow USAF Medical Center, Andrews Air Force Base, DC

Year Published: 1992

Abstract Status: Final


By the end of the Gulf War, 40,782 women had served in the Persian Gulf. The Air Force deployed 4,246 women. Military women have been underserved in health care, veterans' services, recognition as veterans, and inclusion in studies of family separation and the effects of war exposure.The investigators surveyed a randomized representative sample of 525 female veterans (420 Air Force) to examine (1) effects of deployment and military service during wartime on women's physical and emotional health; (2) effects of separation on family relationships and health; (3) the health, social, and psychological problems of female veterans as they return to families, work, and military service; and (4) how deployment and war experiences affect their intention to reenlist or to leave the armed forces. Data were also collected from 412 husbands or significant others.By ANOVA, and controlling for age, active duty women had significantly more health problems than those in the Air Force Reserve or National Guard and being a parent was associated with significantly more health problems, a tendency even more pronounced for women deployed in the theater of war (mean 3.24 health problems vs. 2.16). Mothers had significantly more depression symptoms than non mothers and exhibited a significantly lower level of role and emotional functioning. Children whose mothers were deployed displayed significantly more maladaptive behavioral stress symptoms.Depression was significantly affected by job stress, relationship strain, and family duties interfering with job. Role and emotional functioning was significantly affected by job strain and relationship strain. The extent of health problems was significantly affected by job strain, relationship strain, and job duties interfering with home life. The major factor in experiencing job distress was job environment stressors such as overload.The attitude toward reenlistment was accounted for by beliefs about military life and job satisfaction.