This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

An Exploration of Mental Health Help-Seeking Experiences Among Women Combat Veterans




Roberts, Kaycee Colón

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Special Education, Rehabilitation, Counseling


This phenomenological study explores the lived experiences of women combat veterans and their mental health help-seeking experiences. Semi-structured interviews were completed with ten women combat veterans. Using a hermeneutic phenomenological approach, the research sought to understand the phenomena of mental health help-seeking in women who served in combat. Seven themes and one subtheme captured the essence of the phenomena, which were explored through the following questions: “What are the lived experiences of women combat veterans? Also, how have these experiences influenced mental health utilization?” These themes are: 1) Sense of Purpose, 2) Gender Stereotypes and Harassment, 3) Proving Oneself and Earning Respect, 4) Isolation, Subtheme 4a) Sacrifice: Work/Life Balance, 5) The Price of War: Enduring, Unfinished Business, Nostalgia, and Closure, 6) Mental Health Help-Seeking in the Military: Stigma and Risks, and 7) Competent Care, Access to Care, and Continuity of Care. Implications for counselors, counselor educators/supervisors, as well as the relevance of research findings are discussed.