Female Veterans

The Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN) has taken the American Nurses Association pledge to support the White House’s Joining Forces initiative.

Medical-surgical nurses should know the distinct health care needs of the female military service member.

Dr. Ursula Kelly of Emory University reported in her presentation at the Joining Forces to Restore Lives conference, “The greatest danger to a female soldier is not getting killed or injured but [military sexual assault] MST.” Current statistics published by Sadler et al. suggest that approximately one in six women will experience a sexual assault as a civilian but about one in four women will experience a MST, and these statistics are likely under-reported.

These resources will review what medical-surgical nurses need to know about care for the female veteran.

AMSN Recommended Resources

Scholarly Papers

Army Medicine. (2012, November). [Interview with Ursula Kelly, presenter of Military Sexual Trauma Complicates PTSD for Female Veterans]. Army Medicine Peer-Reviewed Publications, 78-82.

Medscape Medical News interviewed Dr. Kelly about her presentation on female veterans who experienced MST.

Kelly, U., Skelton, K., Patel, M., Bradley, B. (2011). More than military sexual trauma: Interpersonal violence, PTSD, and mental health in women veterans. Research in Nursing & Health, 34(6), 457-67.

Examines the relationships between lifetime trauma and PTSD, depression, physical health, and quality of life in female veterans referred for MST treatment.

Lee, E. A. D. (2011). Military sexual trauma exposure and heart rate variability outcomes in female veterans. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database (AAT 3482438).

Pathophysiological relationship between military sexual trauma (MST) and physiological outcomes in female veterans.

Lee, E. A. D., & Theus, S. A. (2012). Lower heart rate variability associated with military sexual trauma rape and posttraumatic stress disorder. Biological Research for Nursing, 14(4), 412-418.

Pathophysiological relationship between low heart variability, military sexual trauma (MST) and PTSD.

Pallavi Nishith, P., Duntley, S. P., Domitrovich, P. P., Uhles, M. L., Cook, B. J., & Stein, P. K. (2003). Effect of cognitive behavior therapy on heart rate variability during REM sleep in female rape victims with PTSD. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 16(3), 247-250.

Article explores the effectiveness of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) in female rape victims not in a war situation.

Sadler, A., Booth, B., Cook, B., & Doebbeling, B. (2003). Factors associated with women’s risk of rape in the military environment. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 43, 262–273.

This study assessed military environmental factors associated with rape occurring during military service, while controlling for pre-military trauma experiences.


Lee, E., Theus, S. (2012, November 13). What is the Difference Between Time-Domain Heart Rate Variability Measures in Younger “Heart-Healthy” Female Veterans with and without Military Sexual Trauma? [PowerPoint slides] 2012 Joining Forces to Restore Lives: Nursing Education and Research in Veterans Health, November 13, 2012.

Webb, Mary, A. Rossiter, F. Sahebzamani, M. Groer, The Effect of Sexual Trauma and Assault on the Health of Women Veterans, PowerPoint presentation at the 2012 Joining Forces to Restore Lives: Nursing Education and Research in Veterans Health, November 13, 2012.


Veterans Health Admin, Women Veterans’ Stories of Service: Katrina Goldby - Impact and effect of military sexual trauma.

Companion videos about a 7-year female veteran and the effects of MST in her life:

Companion videos on the extent of MST, the influence of military culture, and resources to address MST.