Understanding the Reintegration of Female Reservists Activated After September 11, 2001: A Phenomenological Approach

Understanding the Reintegration of Female Reservists Activated After September 11, 2001: A Phenomenological Approach

Author: 
Reynolds Bernard Peele
Program of study: 
D.M.
Abstract: 
Few studies exist that explore the reintegration experience of female reservists who served in a combat environment. Consequently, reintegration programs are gender neutral and applied as a one size fit all approach. Female veterans are the fastest growing section of the veteran population reporting mental health problems during post deployments. Moreover, the new norm is a heavy reliance on Guard and reservists in national defense. In addition, women comprise a larger percentage of the Guard and reserve population than the active duty force. A qualitative, phenomenological study using the Moustakas modification of the van Kamm method of analysis was conducted to explore the lived experiences of a representative group of female reservists who participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) or Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and their return back to families and communities. The data from these female veterans was analyzed to highlight the experience from activation to deployment and participation in OIF/OEF and returning home, reintegrating in families and communities. Five themes emerged from the findings--i.e., propensity for military service, range of emotions, support, unique gender experiences, and social status. These themes may be of value to local, state, and federal leaders, as all public levels are associated with reservists at each stage of their active and inactive military experience.
Dedication: 
This dissertation is dedicated to the incredible women, who I have grown to revere and respect for your courage, advisement, and perseverance as an example to make me a better person and to make this a better country. I have learned from you during my many years in the Marine Corps and as I continue to serve as a senior manager in the Department of Defense. I believe a better future for our country resides in your expanded roles in leading our nation at the highest levels. I only hope, in some small way, this research may contribute. To all my family (sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, children, grandchildren, cousins, etc.) and friends, I dedicate this to you, as you continued to love and support me even when I could not make many of the family gatherings, parties, and other social events, during this journey. On a more personal note, I dedicate this to my personal life-long friend (Valerie Clark) who has remained by my side during some very difficult experiences and provided unconditional love and support during this project. Our focus continues to be on God's words to strengthen our spirit and develop meaningful perspectives about life that is truly Devine. The incredible sacrifices you made for this project are not forgotten. Finally, but first, I dedicate this to my late mother (Musa T. Peele), who continues to be an important source of my inner strength. Many years before her passing, she gave me a card that reads, "Take pride in who you are and never stop reaching for all you can be." This project and anything that may be perceived as an achievement in my professional life have foundation in my mother's guidance, this card, which I keep handy and visible in my bedroom.
Acknowledgements: 
Thank you, my committee chair and mentor, Dr. Shana Nicholson, and the committee professors, Dr. Manuel Ferreira and Dr. Michael F. Minaudo. Each of you were important influencers, who served as imperatives during this doctoral journal. I realize and will forever value the mentoring experience Dr. Nicholson was providing, encouraging me every step of this journey. Without her this would not have been possible. This was enhanced by Dr. Ferreira's and Dr. Minaudo's sage assistance and feedback. Thank you for your patience and professional guidance. In addition, I am very grateful to the 10 participants of this project and their willingness to share their experiences. I hope through me and this project their lives and those of all female military members, both reserves and active duty, will be improved in some way.