Dr Gibson says that all healthcare professionals who work with women should be aware that many women regardless of age have a history of trauma, and this can have long-term effects on mental and physical health and functioning throughout the life span.  While providers may already be attuned to addressing these issues with women who have recently separated from service, she says they should not neglect discussing such topics with midlife and older women who may still be affected by them in ways that can affect their health and aging.

 

“Providers within the VA and the private sector, where an estimated 70% of women veterans receive their care, should be aware of the unique exposures and experiences related to service that influence women veterans’ health and well-being,” she says. They should “talk to patients about their military service, provide psychoeducation about the relationship between trauma and health, and encourage trauma-focused therapy or other means of support as warranted,” she recommends. 

References

  1. Klingensmith K, Tsai J, Mota N, Southwick SM, Pietrzak RH. Military sexual trauma in US veterans: results from the National Health and Resilience in Veterans study. J Clin Psychiatry. 2014;75(10):e1133-e1139. 

  2. Barth SK, Kimerling RE, Pavao J, et al. Military sexual trauma among recent veterans: correlates of sexual assault and sexual harassment. Am J Prev Med. 2016;50(1):77-86. 

  3. Gibson CJ, Gray KE, Katon JG, Simpson TL, Lehavot K. Sexual assault, sexual harassment, and physical victimization during military service across age cohorts of women veterans. Womens Health Issues. 2016;26(2):225-231. 

  4. Kimerling R, Makin-Byrd K, Louzon S, Ignacio RV, McCarthy JF. Military sexual trauma and suicide mortality. Am J Prev Med. 2015; pii: S0749-3797(15)00703-5.

  5. Monteith LL, Menefee DS, Forster JE, Wanner JL, Bahraini NH. Sexual trauma and combat during deployment: associations with suicidal ideation among OEF/OIF/OND veterans. J Trauma Stress. 2015;28(4):283-288. 

  6. Millegan J, Wang L, LeardMann CA, Miletich D, Street AE. Sexual trauma and adverse health and occupational outcomes among men serving in the US military. J Trauma Stress. 2016;29(2):132-140. 

  7. Millegan J, Milburn EK, LeardMann CA, et al. Recent sexual trauma and adverse health and occupational outcomes among US servicewomen. J Trauma Stress. 2015;28(4):298-306.