This article aims to expand our understanding of military culture as it relates to gender and veterans’ mental health, drawing from rich qualitative data. Fifty in-depth interviews (25 men, 25 women) were conducted with veterans who had a recent suicide attempt (within 6 months). Interviews revealed major themes of unequal standards and a hostile environment in the military. Women strived to fit in and experienced differential treatment in their physical training, professional expectations, and family life; men recollected masculine bonds and camaraderie through drinking. Women described the hostile environment of the military through their experiences of sexual violence and both genders described a culture of silence where signs of weakness were shamed. Findings support a cultural shift toward equitable gender norms for military members. Policy should focus on increased transparency institutionally—and between members—as well as improving protection and response to reported abuse.
- gender issues
- mental health
- military culture
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Safety Research