When Women Veterans Become the Unseen Victims of PTSD
In 2005, Elana Duffy was an Army interrogator deployed to Iraq when her vehicle was hit by an IED. Duffy was knocked out and bled briefly from her ears. She didn’t feel she was badly injured though, and continued on with her mission. “I didn’t want to get pulled off the road,” she tells Playboy. “My job was my job, I wanted to keep on doing it.” When she started experiencing symptoms like bad headaches, Duffy hid them: “I covered up for as long as I possibly could.” Part of the reason she kept quiet, she said, was the fact that she is a woman. Standing at 5’4” and weighing just over 100 pounds, Duffy had worked hard to gain the respect of the infantrymen she served with. “It took initial weeks or months to prove myself to every platoon out there,” she says.
Duffy may be part of a small group of women who have received a Purple Heart, but her experience as a female military service member is quite common. The Service Women's Action Network recently convened a set of focus groups to ask women veterans and service members about their mental health experiences. Nearly all of the groups said they had developed resilience while in the military. But when they dug deeper, the women came to agree it was “fake resilience” that didn’t contribute to their mental well-being.