Why women veterans are 250% more likely than civilian women to commit suicide
By: Kate Henricks Thomas and Kyleanne Hunter
August 14, 2019
"We missed the sense of unit cohesion and good-natured support we’d so often enjoyed on active duty, and struggled to find that same sense of community in our civilian lives." Kyleanne Hunter
The Women in Military Service to America Memorial, the only national museum honoring military women, celebrated its 15th anniversary on Oct. 20, 2012. (Veterans Affairs)After four years on active duty, Amy left the Army and moved back to her hometown.
However, she struggled to find her tribe. At work, she was told her handshake was a bit too firm and lectured about how her direct communication style made her coworkers uncomfortable. At her local VFW bar, the men stopped talking to stare at her, and her attempts to connect were met with awkward silences. A few other attempts to connect with the veteran communities she saw advertised at the VA and Facebook left her feeling similarly displaced.
“In both civilian settings and veteran settings, I was ‘weird,’” she recalls.
She explored some of the newer veteran service organizations (VSOs), but most failed to include child care or weren’t kid-friendly. Amy was a single parent, so she mentally crossed those options off her list too. She stayed lonely, and slowly sank into a deep depression.
The very word “veteran” calls to mind the image of a man — particularly a male combat veteran. However, there are more than 2 million women veterans in the United States today, and women veterans are the nation’s fastest-growing veteran population. Unfortunately, this unique population, many of whom have deployed during the past 18 years, rarely benefit from the traditional trappings of the hero returned home.
Kyleanne Hunter was a Cobra pilot and is a decorated combat veteran. I served as military police. We spent our 20s in the Corps, and it quickly became both our family and identity. We each deployed overseas and generally loved our time in service. However, transitioning to civilian life was another matter entirely. We were high performing, but — despite appearing “successful” and “normal” on the outside — we each felt a nagging sense of displacement and not belonging. read it here