Women and War

What Physicians Should Know


  • There are no conflicts of interest to declare.

Address correspondence and requests for reprints to Dr. Murdoch: Section General Internal Medicine/CCDOR (111-0), Minneapolis VA Medical Center, One Veterans Drive, Minneapolis, MN 55417 (e-mail: Maureen.Murdoch@med.va.gov).


Most of today's 1.7 million women veterans obtain all or most of their medical care outside the VA health care system, where their veteran status is rarely recognized or acknowledged. Several aspects of women's military service have been associated with adverse psychologic and physical outcomes, and failure to assess women's veteran status, their deployment status, and military trauma history could delay identifying or treating such conditions. Yet few clinicians know of women's military history—or of military service's impact on women's subsequent health and well being. Because an individual's military service may be best understood within the historical context in which it occurred, we provide a focused historical overview of women's military contributions and their steady integration into the Armed Forces since the War for Independence. We then describe some of the medical and psychiatric conditions associated with military service.