Online Program

Creating a culture of equity for female veterans' mental health: Policy, programming, research, and practice considerations

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 : 8:30 a.m. - 8:50 a.m.

Chanel Barnes-Osula, MA, MHS, CommonHealth ACTION, Washington, DC
Julia DeAngelo, MPH, CommonHealth ACTION, Washington, DC

In the U.S., the female veteran population is expected to grow exponentially in forthcoming years, suggesting a greater demand on health systems to develop equitable approaches to address their needs. Despite increases in female veteran support services, they are confronted with challenges.  Female veterans are more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than male veterans and are four times more likely to experience long-lasting PTSD than their male counterparts.  


This presentation will summarize findings captured from a year-long study that evaluated challenges and identifed solutions to improve mental health and well-being for veteran subpopulations who experience vulnerabilities upon transitioning to civilian life.  Program and policy examples from mental health and transitional support sectors will be described. By the end of the session, participants will be able to identify opportunities to improve equitable mental health outcomes for female veterans based on recommended policy and program change strategies.


Information was gathered through a literature/media scan; key informant interviews; an advisory convening; attendance at local and national meetings; female veteran focus groups; and a national survey.


Scan findings suggest that many female veterans are not finding sufficient gender-appropriate services and do not self-dentify as a veteran. A theme of bonding and connection was echoed by focus group participants even when the group experienced challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated occupation.


Greater attention is needed to generate a national dialogue that engages female veterans, their families, military leaders, service-organizations, and policymakers to create the culture change needed to achieve greater equity for female veterans’ mental health.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Public health or related education
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Explain how a Health in All Policy approach can be applied to inform and create equitable solutions to female veterans’ mental health challenges and opportunities Discuss the challenges and opportunities about the current and future state of female veterans’ mental health.

Keyword(s): Veterans' Health, Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have co-led the Veterans' Mental Health Environmental Scan Project. Among my research interests, I have been involved in the development of qualitative tools and strategies for understanding the mental health needs of female veterans. I have also developed and sustained relationships with stakeholders and the veteran population.
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.