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Keywords

family health, female soldiers, qualitative research, reintegration

 

Authors

  1. Kelly, Patricia J.
  2. Berkel, LaVerne A.
  3. Nilsson, Johanna E.

Abstract

Background: Women are an integral part of Reserve and National Guard units and active duty armed forces of the United States. Deployment to conflict and war zones is a difficult experience for both soldiers and their families. On return from deployment, all soldiers face the challenge of reintegration into family life and society, but those from the National Guard and Reserve units face the additional challenge of reintegration in relative isolation from other soldiers. There is limited research about the reintegration experiences of women and the functioning of the families during reintegration following deployment.

 

Objective: The goal was to document postdeployment family reintegration experiences of women in the National Guard.

 

Methods: Semistructured interviews were conducted with 42 female members of Midwestern National Guard units. Directed content analysis was used to identify categories of experiences related to women's family reintegration.

 

Results: Five categories of postdeployment experience for female soldiers and their families were identified: Life Is More Complex, Loss of Military Role, Deployment Changes You, Reestablishing Partner Connections, and Being Mom Again.

 

Discussion: The categories reflected individual and family issues, and both need to be considered when soldiers and their families seek care. Additional research is needed to fully understand the specific impact of gender on women's reintegration.