Gender and the Transition from Military to Civilian Life: Examining the Experiences of Canadian Female Veterans

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 16:15
Oral Presentation
Maya EICHLER, Mount Saint Vincent University, Canada
Gender remains an underexplored area of inquiry into veterans’ transition from military to civilian life – both in Canada and elsewhere – but one that is growing in importance in view of the changing gender make-up of militaries across the globe. That gender is a key variable affecting the success of veterans’ reintegration into civilian society is increasingly evident in the literature. In part, female and male Veterans face similar challenges upon their return from a war zone and/or their release from the military. However, some aspects of the transition are gender-specific and related to societal gender norms and gendered military culture. A qualitative methodology was used to conduct interviews and a focus group with female Canadian Armed Forces Veterans regarding their experiences transitioning from military to civilian life. The themes of balancing work and family, gendered injuries, and insufficient supports emerged as salient. Across these themes the analysis revealed the core issue of a conflicted and unacknowledged female veteran identity shaped by military and civilian gender norms. It is important to recognize female veterans’ unique experiences and needs, and how military and civilian gender norms as well as other factors may impact their military-to-civilian transition. Insights from this research will help inform guidelines for more gender-sensitive veterans policies and programs in Canada that go beyond the male veteran norm or alleged gender neutrality.