142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Living silently: Women's experiences with military sexual trauma from WWII to present day

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Wednesday, November 19, 2014 : 8:50 AM - 9:10 AM

Kristina Wolff, PhD, MPH, MPA , National Center for Patient Safety field office, Veterans Administration, White River Junction, VT
Title: Living Silently: Women’s Experiences with Military Sexual Trauma from WWII to Present Day

Significance:  For women serving in the military prior to 2001, there were few to no options available to report incident(s) of MST, to obtain necessary care or support.  The repercussions continue today as women’s access to care varies according to when and where they served, to where they have lived after their service.  Focus areas include: the impact of time period and location on women’s experiences, past and current coping strategies and related health care experiences. 

Purpose: To describe women veterans’ experiences with MST and the impact of where and when they served on their ability to access health care.

Methods: Fifty-one women veterans’ from a national peace group, discussed their military and MST experiences via questionnaire (n=40) or one-on-one interviews (n=17) (6 women did both).  

Results:  Participants served from WWII to present day with the majority serving during the Vietnam era.  Women ranged in their openness to discuss their experiences.  Less than half of the participants’ utilized VHA services, many had difficulties obtaining care, and only a few had favorable experiences.   The rest either did not qualify for care at the VHA or had other difficulties.

Discussion / Conclusions: The majority of participants cope with their experiences.  Many still struggle and a few have not discussed their experiences with loved ones or caregivers.  The experiences of this group coupled with current research can aid in improving access to care for all veterans with MST.

Learning Areas:

Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the general differences in women’s options for obtaining health care and reporting MST based on the time and place of service; and some of the ways this continues to be relevant today. Identify reasons why someone may, may not or are unable to seek care at a Veterans Health Administration (VHA). Explain the importance of screening for military experience and ways to discuss these experiences as a means to determine possible connections to current physical and mental health issues. This includes a recommendation for obtaining information regarding military service.

Keyword(s): Sexual Assault, Accessibility

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I created and designed the study, received approval from an IRB and conducted the study therefore am the sole owner of the data. I have performed all of the analysis, results and anything created from this data on my own.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.