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Abstract

Women have long served in the military during war whether recognized or unrecognized, whether praised or unpraised, whether there by choice or not there by choice. Men and women both feel the wounds of war. So many times those wounds are very hard to ignore, and often those wounds are not so visible yet take their toll. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is commonly associated with combat, with war, and with being a veteran (Fischer, 2014). Our understanding of women formally deployed as soldiers into combat and the consequences for these women is less well defined. Through a meta-synthesis of published studies we find that both war trauma and sexual trauma contribute to PTSD among female service members. We find the experience of war is different for women but this has changed from the experience of previous wars to the present. We have made gains in understanding PTSD in women, and in how epigenetics modulates the genetic expression of in-born tendencies and traits. We have seen evidence that epigenetic changes may even be passed on to future generations, either for good or for bad (Yehuda, Bell, Bierer, & Schmeidler, 2008). These pieces of information, and information gleaned in additional research that is needed must be synthesized into a new understanding that can be brought to defining intervention and health policy for our female soldiers who will need care based on the best of what we know for today, and tomorrow’s generations

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