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An Exploration into the Experiences of Female Veterans Who Attended Higher Ground Military Programming

Lauren Fleming, Anna Johnson, Hannah Wells, Brent L. Hawkins, Jasmine Townsend, Brandi M. Crowe


Female veterans are the fastest growing military group, yet they are largely underrepresented in research (Hawkins & Crowe, 2018a, 2018b; Lundberg et al., 2016). There is a gap in the literature regarding the lived experiences of female veterans. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to understand female veterans’ experiences while participating in Higher Ground’s military program (HGMP), utilizing semi-structured interviews. Qualitative analysis yielded four themes: 1) transformative experiences, 2) empathetic staff, 3) staff connection to the military, and 4) resources after HGMP. The study’s findings highlight the need for trauma-informed care, cultural competency training for practitioners working in programs that serve female veterans, and offering continued resources after the conclusion of a program. Findings also indicate that participants had transformative experiences during the program. Further research is needed to examine programming elements in other outdoor recreational therapy programs to determine their effectiveness as therapeutic tools.

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Cultural competence; Female veteran; Higher Ground; military program; outdoor recreation; recreational therapy; transformative experience; trauma informed

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