Impact of Deployment Length and Experience on the Well-Being of Male and Female Soldiers


Adler, Amy B., Ann H. Huffman, Paul D. Bliese, and Carl A. Castro. 2005. "The Impact of Deployment Length and Experience on the Well-Being of Male and Female Soldiers." Journal of Occupational Health Psychology 10 (2): 121-137.

Authors: Amy B. Adler, Ann H. Huffman, Paul D. Bliese, Carl A. Castro


This study examined the effects of stressor duration (deployment length) and stressor novelty (no prior deployment experience) on the psychological health of male and female military personnel returning from a peacekeeping deployment. The sample consisted of men (n = 2,114) and women (n= 1,225) surveyed for symptoms of depression and posttraumatic stress. The results confirmed the hypotheses. Longer deployments and 1st-time deployments were associated with an increase in distress scores. However, the relationship between deployment length and increased distress was found only for male soldiers. The findings demonstrate the importance of considering the impact of exposure to long-term occupational stressors and confirm, in part, previous research that has demonstrated a different stress response pattern for men and women.

Keywords: male soldiers, female soldiers, mental health, peacekeeping

Topics: Combatants, Female Combatants, Male Combatants, Gender, Women, Men, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma, Livelihoods, Militarized Livelihoods, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Peacekeeping Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2005

Battles on Women's Bodies: War, Rape, and Traumatisation in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo


Trenholm, Jill E., P. Olsson and B. M. Ahlberg. 2011. "Battles on Women's Bodies: War, Rape and Traumatisation in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo." Global Public Health 6 (2): 139-52.

Authors: Jill E. Trenholm, P. Olsson, B.M. Ahlberg


Rape has been used as a weapon in the conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in unprecedented ways. Research into the phenomenon of war-rape is limited, particularly in this context. The aim of this study was to explore perceptions of local leaders in eastern DRC concerning rape and raped women in the war context. Local leaders were chosen for their ability to both reflect and influence their constituencies. Interviews were conducted with 10 local leaders and transcripts subjected to qualitative content analysis.The study suggests that mass raping and the methods of perpetration created a chaos effectively destroying communities and the entire society and that humanitarian aid was often inappropriate. Furthermore, an exclusive focus on raped women missed the extent of traumatisation entire communities suffered. More significantly, the lack of political will, corruption, greed and inappropriate aid creates a tangled web serving to intensify the war. This complexity has implications for humanitarian interventions including public health.

Keywords: sexual violence, war rape, humanitarian aid


"Most rape survivors are assumed to be infected by HIV so rather than receiving an empathetic healing reception, according to the leaders, they are promptly ostracised from their communities." (143)

"Concern was expressed about the appropriateness of humanitarian aid. The impression was that the focus on aid and its agents, without assessment of the needs as expressed by the local people, serves to divert attention from critical precipitating factors….'someone arrives here with 5 million dollars, with his action plan, he has never asked the people what is the situation?'" (146)

"The leaders also pointed out the futility of international aid agencies providing simple things while, at the same time, the weapons used to terrorise originate from the very same countries." (146)

"The attention from the international community to raped women only was seen by leaders as a misreading of the local realities.  While the mostly male leaders' reaction could be interpreted as part of the continuing saga of 'the invisible woman', and may indeed be a gender-blind perspective of violence, the main message is how the entire society suffers from war-rape, yet little regard has been paid to this aspect. The emerging knowledge from this study is that an exclusive focus, however, limited, on raped women could miss the suffering and traumatisation of their partners and children." (148)

"An underlying theme of this study is the absence of criticism by the leaders regarding their state government's own responsibilities. Citizens in postcolonial countries that have historically lacked legitimacy/good governance often look to outsiders (the international community) for solutions (Brinkerhoff 2007). This lack of confidence in their own government's capabilities is not surprising in light of their history." (150)

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Health, Trauma, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against Women Regions: Africa, Central Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Year: 2011

Military-Related Sexual Trauma among Veterans' Health Administration Patients Returning from Afghanistan and Iraq


Kimerling, Rachel, Amy E. Street, Joanne Pavao, Mark W. Smith, Ruth C. Cronkite, Tyson H. Holmes, and Susan M. Frayne. 2010. "Military-Related Sexual Trauma Among Veterans’ Health Administration Patients Returning from Afghanistan and Iraq." American Journal of Public Health 100 (8): 1409-1412.

Authors: Rachel Kimerling, Amy E. Street, Joanne Pavao, Mark W. Smith, Ruth C. Cronkite, Tyson H. Holmes, Susan M. Frayne


We examined military-related sexual trauma among deployed Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans. Of 125729 veterans who received Veterans Health Administration primary care or mental health services, 15.1% of the women and 0.7% of the men reported military sexual trauma when screened. Military sexual trauma was associated with increased odds of a mental disorder diagnosis, including posttraumatic stress disorder, other anxiety disorders, depression, and substance use disorders. Sexual trauma is an important postdeployment mental health issue in this population.

Keywords: sexual violence, military, veterans, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom


"For our study, we completed, to our knowledge, the first national, population-based assessment of the mental health profile associated with a history of military sexual trauma among deployed Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans who used Veterans Health Administration services." (1410) 
"Women and men who reported a history of military sexual trauma were significantly more likely than those who did not to receive a mental health diagnosis, including  posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), other anxiety disorders, depression, and substance use disorders." (1411)
"Effect sizes for the relation of military sexual trauma to PTSD were substantially stronger among women compared with men, suggesting that military sexual trauma may be a particularly relevant gender-specific clinical issue in PTSD treatment settings." (1411)
"However, survivors of sexual trauma often delay disclosure and treatment of their experiences, and Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom Veterans report stigma associated with help-seeking." (1411)

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Gender, Women, Men, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma, Security, Sexual Violence Regions: MENA, Americas, North America, Asia, Middle East, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, United States of America

Year: 2010

Gender, Social Support and Posttraumatic Stress in Postwar Kosovo


Ahern, Jennifer, Sandro Galea, William G. Fernandez, Bajram Koci, Ronald Waldman, and David Vlahov. 2004. "Gender, Social Support and Posttraumatic Stress in Postwar Kosovo." The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 192 (11): 762-770.

Authors: Jennifer Ahern, Sandro Galea, William G. Fernandez, Bajram Koci, Ronald Waldman, David Vlahov


The effects of social support and traumatic experiences on mental health in conflict situations may be different by gender. The Kosovo Emergency Department Study was conducted in July and August 2001 to assess mental health 2 years after the end of the war in Kosovo. Of 306 emergency department patients (87.7% response rate), all were ethnic Albanian, 97.4% had experienced traumatic events, and 89.5% had posttraumatic stress symptoms. Women and persons who experienced more traumatic events had higher posttraumatic stress scores. Persons with social support had lower posttraumatic stress scores. In a final model, social support had a greater protective effect for women, whereas traumatic events had a greater detrimental effect on men. Two years after the war in Kosovo, there remained a high prevalence of posttraumatic stress symptoms, particularly among women with low social support. Interventions targeting social support may be important public health efforts in the postwar context.

Keywords: social support, trauma, posttraumatic stress, public health, mental health

Topics: Gender, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma, Humanitarian Assistance, Context-Appropriate Response to Trauma, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Kosovo

Year: 2004

Women, Children and Returnees


Arnvig, Eva. 1994. "Women, Children and Returnees." In Between Hope and Insecurity: The Social Consequences of the Cambodian Peace Process, edited by Peter Utting, 83-103. Geneva: United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.

Author: Eva Arnvig


This chapter examines the situation of women, children and returnees in Cambodia and the social impact of the large-scale United Nations presence. Following a brief description of certain general aspects related to family traditions, the position of women in the economy, education and health, the chapter examines a number of social and socio-psychological problems that have risen to the fore in recent years. These include post-war trauma, the reintegration of refugees, prostitution, drugs and street children. Particular attention is focused on the extent to which the behaviour of United Nations peace-keeping and security personnel may have contributed to certain social problems as well as the souring of relations between UNTAC and the host population.


  • Families who have issues assimilating after times of conflict face having to sell their children or allow their children to enter urban areas as street children or prostitutes. Other children are forced to work in plantations to earn money offering a stark change from growing up in refugee camps.

  • Many indigenous peoples blame UNTAC for increases in sexually transmitted infections, street crimes, poverty, and starvation for being unable to efficiently and successfully offer aid in the reintegration process.


“The Total Institution Syndrome has a serious affect on mental attitude and behaviour. It manifests itself in apathy, aggression, violent behaviour, abrupt changes of mood, depression and tiredness along with physical disorders such as headaches and stomach problems.” (92)

Topics: Age, Youth, Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, Trauma, Humanitarian Assistance, Indigenous, International Organizations, Livelihoods, Sexual Livelihoods, Peacekeeping, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Cambodia

Year: 1994


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