Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Sciences


Andrew S. London


Female veterans, Female veterans with disabilities, Life course perspective, Military to civilian transition

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


Over 280,000 female servicemembers have served in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, and a significant number of them are experiencing hidden and/or visible wounds of war. Recent reports indicate that female servicemembers have service-connected disability ratings higher than that of their male counterparts. Female servicemembers often find themselves negotiating roles that are at once ‘inside’ as well as ‘outside’ of a hierarchical, proscribed military institution whose rituals, norms, and hierarchies privilege males in positions of power. Their transition to adulthood as young veterans with service-related disabilities, within a present-day civilian society that can be more ambiguous and discontinuous than in the past decades can often be difficult; particularly during the early years after separation. Fifteen young, female veterans with service-related disabilities, who have left active duty within three years were interviewed for this study, of which 12 met the study criteria. The narratives of their pre-during-and post-military lives contribute to a grounded theory of female veteran transition to adulthood that validates the integration of the Life Course Perspective, Disability Theory, Role/Exit Theory, and theories of Identity and Belonging in ways heretofore unexplored. This study also validates the premise that the female veteran experience is sufficiently different from the male veteran experience in substantive ways. Finally, this research suggests that transition planning and post-military service supports should be customized specifically to address the needs of female servicemembers with disabilities, oriented towards preparing them to resume their civilian lives after exiting the military institution.


Open Access