Episode 242 - Dr. Jessica Strong: Female Service Members at War: Unique Experiences of Deployment and Reintegration

Monday, June 18, 2018, 7:51:08 AM

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In this episode, our guest Dr. Jessica Strong describes why having a clear understanding of the unique experiences of women's combat deployment and other military experiences can inform social work practice, policy, and advocacy efforts. Our guest discusses how gender serves as a powerful context for how women talk about their combat experience, for exacerbating an already stressful experience, and for informing women's reintegration following deployment.

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Average Rating: 5stars  an eye opening listen!, Saturday, February 08, 2020

By Amanda H :

This podcast captures what it is like to be a female service member on the battlefield, on base, and when they return home from deployment. I think Dr. Jessica strong does an excellent job in expressing difficulties that women encounter and how they lack support when it is needed the most. The part I found the most interesting was how different the responses were between men and women when asked about their experiences in combat. Women spoke on an emotional level about things that brought them fear such as having to be cautious about the threat of sexual violence or instances where they were not safe. Men on the other hand, spoke about action focused things such as the war zone. I think this concept on it's own emphasizes what Dr. Jessica Strong says about treatment. Social workers need to acknowledge that treatment for a female soldier needs to look different from treatment of a male soldier as they may have different experiences when it comes being at war.
Overall I really enjoyed this podcast and found it eye opening. There was a lot of information that more people should know especially when working with female soldiers and veterans.

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Average Rating: 5stars  thank you, Thursday, January 30, 2020

By Melissa :

Thank you for this podcast and for your research. As a female veteran, I have experienced some of the issues that my female veteran counterparts have. So many people do not see women as veterans. As the wife of an active duty service member, I am a military spouse. However, I am also a veteran. It's hard to some people to understand that some married couples are or have been duel military. My husband always gets thanked for his service, but I get thanked for supporting my husband during his service. I was even confused as being the spouse AND coming to join the Auxiliary at my local VFW even after I informed them that I had my DD-214 and wanted to join the local VFW chapter. Needless to say, I never went back. There are very few organizations out there for female veterans and some that say they serve female veterans lack the services that we need.

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Average Rating: 5stars  very informative!, Tuesday, April 23, 2019

By Micaela Armenia :

This podcast did a fantastic job illustrating how female service members experience and describe their time at war. One of the major issues female service members deals with that is discussed in this podcast is the lack of support these women have when they return from service. Along with that, many of these women feel as if they are outsiders since they are the minority gender. For instance, many of the present-day support programs that are set up for veterans are male-dominated -- leaving women to feel more isolated and unrepresented. Dr. Strong argues that social workers need to recognize that the needs and experiences of female veterans may be different than males. And, as social workers, we need to be competent to work with this population, especially since more females are entering the military, which means this population will be increasing within the near future.

This was a fantastic topic, which was presented in an easy-to-understand manner!

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Average Rating: 5stars  great podcast, Monday, February 11, 2019

By LiPing Lin :

As a beginner to the social work field, I found Dr. Strong’s podcast to be easy to understand and informative. I thought it did a good job of introducing the topic of the experiences of female service members to an audience that might not have much background information on it as well as being informative to an audience that was more knowledgeable on the topic. There were several parts of the podcast that I personally found interesting. One of it was when Dr. Strong talked about the experiences of female service members when they walk into a facility like the VA. I think that in our profession of being social workers, a big part of it is being trauma-informed which is being able to recognize the trauma that someone experienced and the effect it has on them, but at the same time, I think it is also as equally important not to assume someone has trauma based on a widespread assumption such as that experienced by the female service member. I also enjoyed the part where Dr. Strong talked about the importance of support and a strong unit cohesion. With the increasing number of female service members, it is a need that should be addressed. Overall, I really enjoyed Dr. Strong’s podcast and hope to hear more about this topic.

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Average Rating: 5stars  interesting!, Monday, February 04, 2019

By Meg D :

Discerning the difference in how male and female service workers interpret threat is a very interesting topic. It’s not one that we often talk about, but one that is important to investigate. I found it very interesting that your research found that male and female service members interpret danger and threat in combat very differently. I found it very interesting that male service members describe firefights and other attacks and whereas female service members discuss perceived threats. In pop culture, we’ve really only seen the experiences of male service members, and I believe it has shaped our collective view of service members and their experiences. In reality, yes men make up the majority of service members today, but women make up 15% of this population and it is a statistic that is growing. It’s important that the VA and the various branches of service anticipate this shift so that services and schools of thought can adapt to this change. Hopefully Dr Strong’s research and similar research will hopefully lead to a shift in the services available and the way we administer these services to female service workers.
I also liked that you spoke about how your research evolved, from your initial question, which sought to find what it is like to be a female service member in a combat zone. I also appreciated that you mentioned your assumptions coming into your research. I think that that is an important thing to acknowledge in research, and an important thing for students to understand.
Overall, I really enjoyed this podcast, and it has broadened my idea of both the experience of female service members and has sparked and interest in how women perceive threat in general. It also made me wonder what the experiences of female service members partners are (both opposite and same-sex partners). I imagine that they would be victim to social norms, bias, gaps in the system, and feeling isolated from other partners of service members.

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Average Rating: 5stars  an interesting listen!, Saturday, February 02, 2019

By Erika Jones :

This is a fascinating podcast regarding how women are traumatized without being on the front line in the military. The first thing that I found interesting was when Dr. Strong mentions how women describe combat. When most people think of combat, they think of being in fire fights and being on the front line where they are seeing traumatic things, but the women that were interviewed has an entirely difference perspective on what combat was. It would be interesting for more research regarding gender differences in the military, and I think this offers great insight into many different places where research could begin when discussing those gender differences.
Dr. Strong discussed how research on PTSD was finding that just the fear of being in a traumatic situation could cause someone to develop PTSD. This wasn't something that I had ever thought of before but it is very interesting to hear about. It's very interesting to think about the fact that fear is such a strong emotion that just experiencing it so intensely can cause someone to develop a major mental health issue.
The last thing that Dr. Strong mentioned that I thought was important to mention here is that social work is not new to the VA. I didn't realize that there has been a collaboration between the two for 90 years. If social work is not new to the VA, then why are women's needs still not being met? As mentioned above, I feel as though this could also lead into research into gender differences in veterans. We know women experience things differently than men, so why are their needs not being met in ways that are correct for them?
Overall, this is a great podcast, Dr. Butler asks great questions and Dr. Strong gives great insight into things that more people should know and understand about our women service members.

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Average Rating: 5stars  review, Wednesday, January 30, 2019

By Emily Schaffstall :

I found your podcast to be very interesting. You spoke about some very interesting topics in regards to women in the military that I would have never considered. I agree that the services offered to veterans are aimed towards the male population solely because the majority of the population that enlists in the military are male. I agree that women need to have a safe space where they can connect with other female veterans when returning from war. It is hard to connect with male counterparts especially since you talked about the women’s perspective of the war being completely different than the men’s perspective. This can make it difficult for women to feel understood and validated by male veterans.
I thought it was interesting that the women that you spoke to about their experience while in combat was that they constantly felt threatened with things such as sexual violence. Not only worrying about being in combat, but also always be on guard to avoid that can be draining. My question for you is that was there a correlation between women who felt consistently sexually threatened and group cohesion among their unit mentioned in the beginning of the podcast?
As you mentioned more females are becoming service members. Do you think the VA will aim more services towards women in the future?
When discussing all the different jobs that a social worker can have aiming towards military veterans, one was mentioned as providing services to the children. One question that sparked my interest was if there is a difference in the family dynamic when a father is in the war versus a mother in war. If the paternal figure missing has a different impact than a maternal figure being absent. I would assume for daughters, when their mother is at war, it has an emotional impact on them because their emotional support is missing. I would love to see the research on that.

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