VA Connecticut Healthcare System
Study targets female combat veterans
West Haven, Conn. - A Department of Veterans Affairs $2.2 million grant will fund a new nationwide study to determine whether there are gender differences in how female and male military combat veterans readjust to civilian life. The investigation is a collaborative effort that includes researchers from the VA, Women's Health Research at Yale, and the University of Connecticut.
Of the 2 million Americans who served since 2001 in Afghanistan and Iraq, approximately 230,000 have been women, and an unprecedented number of these women have been in combat situations. Current Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans include the largest cadre of U.S. military women exposed to combat to date.
There has been concern that women veterans may be more susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder than men, given similar experiences. There has also been some concern that the trauma women experience in combat may be compounded because women on average enter the military having had more civilian trauma than men and may suffer trauma at the hands of their comrades more than male veterans. However, very little of this speculation has been investigated with empirical studies until now.
Rani Desai, Ph.D., an investigator with the Mental Illness Research, Education & Clinical Center (MIRECC) located at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System West Haven campus, is the study principal investigator. Desai is also an associate professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine and director of the Women and Trauma research core of Women’s Health Research of Yale.
"This represents a fabulous synergy with a Connecticut foundation that saw the importance of this work and gave us the opportunity to initiate this study. Thanks to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, we are now collaborating to investigate a major health concern for female military combat veterans," said Carolyn M. Mazure, Ph.D., Director of Women's Health Research at Yale and a Yale professor of psychiatry and psychology.
Other study investigators include Sherry McKee, Ph.D., Yale associate professor of psychiatry, and Crystal Park, Ph.D., University of Connecticut professor of psychology.