There are days when I wished I could get through the day without being so suspect of “findings,” even the ones supported and corroborated by studies. We all know that tons of studies are sponsored and financed and therefore frequently bent from the outset. The need to keep women in the ranks of the Armed Forces is critical to the mission. The need to pretend they are not in combat is critical to the mission, especially since so few women are awarded combat action ribbons and therefore do not qualify for the same benefits as their male counterparts who are diagnosed with PTSD. Ergo, the spin. They just declare them “resilient.”
Men have a Flight of Fight DNA that dates to pre-historic times and the distinctions between hunters and gatherers. In a rather simplistic way one could say that women do not have the same triggers as men. However with training those neurological differences can be overcome easily and a young lady can go to berserk state as fast and furious as any special forces hombre. Remember the most sniper kills in history are not “Carlos,” the award goes to a woman named Lydia who was with the Russian Womans Sniper Squad in WWll at St Petersberg, Russia. They are credited with 700 kills! They were resilient women. As women have always been, from the Trojan Wars to the settling of the wild west. So, I find nothing revealing about this report other than its intent to program us for more women entering combat.
My overall take is one of concern for the effects of war on women long after their terms of service, as they do not have the same outlets for bonding as do men of war. It could be quite lonely for them. I can somehow accept men being compromised by the ravages of war, I cannot accept having a nation of screwed up Moms.
I attempted to interview a few fathers of women in the Army and they all declined as they indicated it was to painful. So maybe the study of resilience is looking at the wrong population. I am not sure the American public is all that resilient, evidenced by the near total absence of war coverage in the media at large. Lots of stories, but none of day to day combat. So who is the least resilient, the soldier or the common citizen?
Women Exposed to Combat Trauma as Resilient as Men: Study
Female military personnel experience PTSD, depression at similar rate as men
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TUESDAY, June 7 (HealthDay News) — Male and female military personnel exposed to combat zone trauma tend to experience similar mental health problems and recover at the same rate, a new study reveals.
The finding — the first to examine the role of gender on combat-linked stress after deployment — was based on a survey completed by American men and women deployed between October 2007 and July 2008 in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The study had two major findings, according to lead author Dawne S. Vogt, an associate professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine. “One is that more women than ever before are experiencing combat. So although men continue to experience it at slightly higher rates, the difference in exposure is relatively small.”
“The other one is that this suggests that women may be just as resilient as men in the year following return from deployment,” Vogt said. “Which is a novel finding, because the broader trauma literature has historically found that women are more vulnerable to trauma exposure. But in this study you’re not seeing that.”
Vogt and her colleagues present their findings in a recent online issue of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.
The authors noted that the Pentagon’s current official policy bars women from direct participation in ground combat, although they are nonetheless deployed in numerous risky combat situations.
That official ban has been the subject of much recent debate, despite the fact that according to the Department of Defense, more than 750 women have been killed or wounded in action in either the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as of 2009.
Against that backdrop, the study authors polled a random sample of 595 veterans of those wars through the Defense Manpower Data Center. The group was comprised of 340 women and 252 men, all of whom had returned from their respective war zone within the year leading up to the survey.
The male soldiers were more likely to be married and have children, while the women were three years younger on average, and more likely to be from a minority group. Half of the survey participants were “active duty,” a quarter were part of the National Guard, and another quarter were part of the Reserve Forces.
Each soldier was asked whether or not he or she had fired a weapon, been shot at, and/or been witness to combat death or injuries. Post-battle experiences were also tallied, in terms of the handling or observing of human remains and contact with prisoners.
In addition, the survey explored the degree to which each soldier feared for his or her safety and well-being, along with the pressures and difficulties of day-to-day living in a combat zone. Participants were also asked to discuss their pre-deployment exposure to trauma and their exposure to sexual harassment on duty.
All the responses were then compared to each soldier’s post-deployment history of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, substance abuse, and overall mental health functioning.
Vogt and her team first noted that while the male soldiers were exposed to slightly more combat and post-battle trauma, the traumatic nature of the group’s combat experience was fairly similar across gender lines. Women were found to have experienced a greater degree of pre-deployment stress, as well as a greater incidence of sexual harassment while deployed.
In terms of post-deployment experience, male and female soldiers appeared to experience about the same degree of PTSD and depression in the year post-deployment. Mental health functioning was also comparable among male and female veterans, although substance abuse was more common among the men.
The authors concluded that male and female soldiers appear to be equally resilient to the stress and trauma of combat, in least in the immediate months following battle.
“One implication is I think people need to realize that women are experiencing combat too, even though at slightly lower levels,” noted Vogt, who is also a researcher at the National Center for PTSD at the VA Boston Healthcare System. “And therefore that needs to be taken into consideration when they come home, in the context of caring for them in the health care setting.”
“And the other implication,” she said, “is that these findings are particularly relevant given the recent call for the military to reverse its long-standing policy barring women from ground combat.”
For his part, Keith A. Young, vice chair for research in the department of psychiatry at Texas A&M Health Science Center in College Station, Texas, said the current insights are what he would expect.
“I’m not so surprised that military women experience similar mental health problems as men,” said Young, who is also the Neuroimaging and Genetics core leader for the VA Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans in Waco, Texas.
“There is certainly the idea that has been out there that women are more susceptible to PTSD,” Young said. “But I think a lot of the research wasn’t very well controlled, and, in fact, in most of the animal work that has been done, it’s the male animal that has been most susceptible to stress and PTSD. The female animals have actually proven to be more resilient.”
Young cautioned, however, that the principle factor driving the current female combat ban may have less to do with concerns over vulnerability to combat trauma and more to do with the risk of abuse that women prisoners of war might face. In that light, he suggested that the current findings would not necessarily alter the current ban debate.
“Nevertheless, I think this finding will generally help women who are interested in a military career,” he added. “It will help justify their ability to pursue that type of career and life.”
Vogt’s study was partially funded by a Department of Veterans Affairs Health Sciences Research and Development Service grant and the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
SOURCES: Dawne S. Vogt, PhD, associate professor, Boston University School of Medicine, and Veterans Administration National Center for PTSD; Keith A. Young, Ph.D. vice chair for research, department of psychiatry, Texas A&M Health Science Center, and Neuroimaging and Genetics Core Leader for the VA Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans, Waco, Texas; May 30, 2011, Journal of Abnormal Psychology online.