On 9/11, I found myself thinking not just about the families who lost loved ones, but also about soldiers… specifically female soldiers. The 9/11 attacks inspired many young women to enlist. The number of women in the military has doubled in the past decade. According to the Pentagon, about 10% of the 2.2 million troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have been women. As a result, many more women have been exposed to combat situations.
The war in Iraq is the longest war in U.S. history, and the rates of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) are through the roof. A recent study from the National Institute of Health of 7,251 veterans exposed to various forms of combat shows that PTSD rates are the same among male and female vets… almost one out of every five soldiers has it.
While the rates are similar, the ways women and men tend to deal with PTSD are different. “Women have been shown to ruminate over non-traumatic negative events more than men, who tend to use more distraction-based coping techniques,” according to the study. And women have been shown to be more open about admitting they have PTSD and seeking help. Finally, women feel more comfortable talking to and receiving support from their network of female friends.
Moving on in our own lives, with our own stressful challenges, let’s remember our incredible adaptability, versatility, and camaraderie as women. Perhaps it’s true that, from an evolutionary standpoint, women share a tendency to sweat the small stuff too much. Being mindful of that habit, let’s keep looking forward and support each other as much as possible.
How do you feel about women serving in combat? Read this article from Captain Katie Petronio of the U.S. Marines. While many women have proven to be more than fit for combat mentally and physically, exposure to combat over an extended period of time is very difficult, for men and women. It indeed requires a tremendous human being to participate and survive on any decent, relative level in combat. For further insight, check out the trailer for this documentary about women in the military.
Tags: 9-11, female vets, PTSD, stress