Women in combat: Framing the issues of health and health research for America’s servicewomen

Kate McGraw, Tracey Perez Koehlmoos, Elspeth Cam Ritchie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Background: Although women have served in the U.S. military officially since 1901, the medical needs of women in combat have historically been poorly understood. Recent expansion of the opportunities females may now play in combat roles has created an urgent need for a review of how Department of Defense supports females as they transition into these new roles, as well as current science related to key aspects of the health of female warriors. There is currently no systematic institutional structure in place to regularly and methodically examine gaps in policy, research, and treatment for issues related to women in combat. Method: This article serves as a brief overview and introduction to some of the critical topics related to the health of women in combat roles, to include women’s health issues research and treatment efforts, physiological differences between sexes, and leadership and unit factors. Conclusion: The Department of Defense should continue to explore and address policy, research, and practice related to the complex ongoing needs of military females in combat roles, and ensures sufficient staffing, resources and support from senior military leaders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-10
Number of pages4
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


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