Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Social Work

First Advisor

Joseph Walsh

Second Advisor

Sarah Price

Third Advisor

Jennifer Manuel

Fourth Advisor

Steve Danish


Women are expanding their numbers and roles in the United States military. This new generation of military women is exposed to unique factors related to their gender that contribute to challenges for psychosocial well-being and optimal performance. In support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), researchers have identified unique factors for military women, including increased combat exposure, continued military sexual trauma and harassment, and conflicting dual roles. These factors may create obstacles that inhibit help-seeking behaviors and support for military women, and remain an under-researched topic of study. Gender-specific research on military women is limited; current research has primarily focused on discharged veterans and has been remiss in addressing women-specific issues for those currently serving in an active duty status. This study sought to address this under-researched phenomenon by exploring the military experiences of women on active duty in the United States Marine Corps. The purpose was to learn more about military women’s experiences and perceptions of stressors, coping behaviors, and sources of social support within this context. This study used a feminist phenomenological methodology to better understand military women’s experiences and specific stressors that influence their coping behaviors. A phenomenological data analysis procedure revealed five core themes and sub-themes that were synthesized into the essence. Implications for practice, policy, and future research are included to enhance women Marines’ psychosocial well-being and optimal performance while they serve on active duty.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

March 2014

Included in

Social Work Commons