Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Social Work

Major Professor

Matthew T. Theriot

Committee Members

John G. Orme, Joel F. Diambra, David R. Dupper


This dissertation is a multi-manuscript collection consisting of three papers written about female service members. The first manuscript is a literature review that explores research regarding this population and distinguishes gaps in the literature is well. This manuscript identifies theoretical frameworks as well as commonly used research methods when working with female service members. The second and third manuscripts were constructed using secondary data from a documentary film project that produced valuable data regarding the lived experiences of women experiencing deployment. These data were transcribed from filmed interviews and those transcripts were subsequently used for the purpose of this dissertation. The second manuscript is a qualitative study using inductive content analysis to explore the lived experiences of mothers experiencing their first deployment in Afghanistan in the winter of 2011. Two main categories emerged including womanhood and deployment-based affect. Several sub-categories also emerged through data analysis. These included camaraderie, motherhood, leaving family behind, and experiencing trauma. These subcategories are exemplified by using direct quotes from participants. The third manuscript is a qualitative study using content analysis to explore the lived experiences of married mothers who have been deployed previously and were experiencing another deployment in Afghanistan in the winter of 2011. Three main categories emerged from these data including womanhood, deployment-based affect, and family. The data also yielded many sub-categories including concern about lack of support returning home, affect of military service on children, and deployment struggles. Findings form the two studies shared sub-categories such as camaraderie, femininity, and motherhood. The two studies produced contrasting categories as well. For example, the second set of data had such a high concentration of family that I coded a third main category to encompass the emphasis participants put on the subject. These two studies pose implications for future inquires such as the differences in experiences of women who have been deployed multiple times to those experiencing their first deployment. Other issues warranting investigation include motherhood and deployment, the experiences of non-married mothers while deployed, and the possible effects of concern about family while deployed on female service members’ combat readiness.

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