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Female Wounded Warriors

I am a proud University of Arkansas alumni. The current issue of the alumni magazine has a short segment on Janet Cater and her work with female wounded warriors. Her research on military women amputees earned her a doctoral degree in rehabilitation counseling.

I did a Google search and was happy to find she has a blog: Female Wounded Warriors Posterous. There were only four entries but they allow an understanding of her research project.

The first one, Institutional Review Board Information (November 10, 2009), lays out the goal:

I am seeking to understand the psychosocial adjustment issues experienced by women veterans who have had a traumatic amputation. I am interested in your life experience.

The second one, Volunteer To Help Future Wounded Women Warriors, presented the goal and method again:

My study seeks to understand the adjustment issues faced by American women warriors who experience a traumatic amputation. At the present time there is no published research. As the number of women warriors returning with physical disabilities increases, it is vital that medical and mental health support staff understand the unique challenges these women face. Over 220,000 female soldiers have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan for one or more tours of duty. As of August 2009, a total of 121 women warriors have died, and it is estimated over 620 have received serious injuries. This study will use internet interviews using Skype to understand this life experience. Each woman will be invited to tell her story of how she adjusted to life as an amputee with the assurance of confidentiality.

The third entry, Executive Summary, presented the data. It’s all laid out there for anyone to read:

Six Army/Army National Guard women were interviewed in this study: three enlisted and three officers. At the time of the study, their ages ranged from 24 to 42; three were married and three were single; the lowest rank was Specialist and the highest was Major; five were injured in combat and one completed a tour of duty in Iraq on a prosthetic leg. Their injuries ranged from the loss of a lower limb, to the loss of one to two arms, or the loss of both legs.

Each participant was asked three questions; (1) Please describe your experience in combat as a woman. (2) In what ways, if any, has being injured changed your life? (3) If you were to visit a woman in the hospital with your same injuries who was just beginning her journey to recover, what would you tell her?  All of the women in this study had a positive experience in the Army and felt that in their unit they were treated the same as the male soldiers. After losing one or more limbs they had to cope with both physical and psychosocial adjustments.

The fourth entry, Learning More, indicates just that — she is learning more:

I have been interviewing one of the occupational therapists who worked with some of my women while they were adjusting to their new life as an amputee.

Very interesting reading. Very interesting work.

Her dissertation reference:

A phenomenological study of female military servicemembers’ adjustment to traumatic amputation; Cater, Janet K., Ph.D., University of Arkansas, 2010, 238 pages; AAT 3421074.

*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*

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