We Who Have Borne the Battle: Women Combat Veterans Post 9/11

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Larissa Mansfield
This thesis set out to explore the experiences of American women veterans of the recent Iraq and Afghanistan wars. In this way the aim was to further an understanding of how war impacts women’s lives, not just during a conflict but how gendered reverberations shape women’s lives once they return home. This project adopts a critical feminist approach to international relations, one that rejects the primacy of the state as the unit of analysis by insisting that to theorize global politics requires a gender lens. A feminist standpoint epistemology was used as a framework for the research design and guided by a feminist research ethic. This resulted in collecting detailed and in-depth qualitative data from in person interviews with three women combat veterans. The experiences and stories provide a view into a relatively unexplored aspect of the post-war, the lives of women combat veterans. This is a particularly acute absence in light of the recent and long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that have produced a new generation of women combat veterans for the first time ever. It also brings to light the contradiction between the US military’s policy banning women from combat, and the practice in the war zones where women soldiers have routinely been exposed to combat. The stories reveal the complexity and durability of gender in their everyday lives. They also reveal their own actions, voices, and empowered determination that challenge the gender order at times and maintain it at other times. All of the women demonstrate an awareness of the gender paradox of women soldiers, claim their identity as combat veterans, and work to expand that awareness by extending recognition other women veterans. It is recommended that additional research be conducted into the gendered dimensions and impact of military policies regarding family issues.
Publication date30 Sept 2013
Number of pages138
External collaboratorSwords to Plowshares
Women Veterans Coordinator Starlyn Lara slara@stp-sf.org
ID: 77992412