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Wounded Warrior Poll Finds Majority of Female Veterans Feel Isolated

Earlier this month, a poll conducted by the Wounded Warrior Project revealed that many female veterans feel isolated and believe their time in military service is not respected. Approximately 80% of female respondents indicated that they had feelings of loneliness and struggled to connect with their peers. This compares to 63% of male wounded veterans that indicated the same thing.

The discrepancy in these percentages of each group was “voluminous and staggering,” according to Tracy Farrell, the organization’s VP of engagement and physical health and wellness. The survey also provided anecdotal on the matter with real stories from wounded female veterans, many of which indicated that they had a more difficult time transitioning from military to civilian life, when compared with men. 

Many of the women that the study interviewed, cited the need for mentorship and networking opportunities with other women who have served. “Specifically, with people who knew their backgrounds, knew what they found in the service, and who knew how the aspects and training that they received … could be translated into the civilian environment,” Farrell said. “Having some sisters-in-arms to share those resources, to point you in the right direction and to just acknowledge the stories from your past and understand where you’re coming from is really important.

”It should be noted that this study is not meant to represent all female veterans. The new data used surveys from just 5,000 respondents and was administered before the coronavirus pandemic. Furthermore, the survey was only sent to those veterans that are members of the Wounded Warrior Project. 

Despite being on average, more educated than men, the study found, female veterans struggled more to hold a full-time job. Only 34% of the respondents indicated that they had a full time job. Additionally, the study found that female veterans earned, on average, $8,000 less than their male counterparts.  

What is perhaps the most concerning piece of information uncovered from the study, is that 53% of the female veterans that responded feel that their service is not generally respected. Specifically in VA clinics, some described their experiences as being second-class citizens when compared to the male veterans. 

One female respondent said that when she had visited a VA clinic with her husband, they ask her husband for his address, thinking that he must be the veteran. While this is just one example from one veteran, it sheds light on a broader problem. Jennifer Silvia, the WWP’s Chief Program Officer, believes that this is one area that can really be improved on. The military could also help improve the image of female veterans by including more women in their public-facing products, Farrell said. “I think the images that are put forward to the media are often male-centric, so by including more women in some of those images … there will be an acknowledgement that women serve as well and have a vital part in defending the United States,” she said.

The results of the survey come at a time when the issue has been getting more attention. The Pentagon and military officials have recently voiced their strong support for female veterans after Tucker Carlson disparaged the military’s new steps to support females in the military on Fox News. Silvia voiced her support for the Pentagon’s stance on the matter. “Senior officials … highlighting stories of women in their roles is really empowering and they feel a part of it,” she said. “And for the general population, that maybe can’t always see that in the service, that’s something very empowering, as well.”

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