The Unique Mental Health Needs of Military Women: A Social Work Call to Action

  • Victoria A. Osborne University of Missouri
  • L. Ashley Gage University of Missouri
  • Abigail J. Rolbiecki University of Missouri
Keywords: Military women, military sexual assault, female service members, women in the military, National Guard, United States Reserve Component


Women involved in all aspects of the United States Armed Forces face mental health needs that are unique from women in the general population. Because the most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are involving more women in combat situations, social workers encounter female clients who are increasingly experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, substance misuse, and sexual violence. Special attention must be paid particularly to women who serve in the National Guard or Reserves, as they have different concerns than enlisted active duty women. These concerns include less social support and fewer resources upon return from deployment. Thus, it is imperative for social workers in the community to be aware of these military women’s experiences and unique mental health challenges in order to effectively treat their needs.