Australian female veterans are an emerging but largely invisible group with unique health needs
Australian women have served in overseas military operations since the Boer War. Over the past two decades, an increasing number of women have deployed, often repeatedly, in Australian Defence Force (ADF) operations. Among this group are peacekeepers, reservists and veterans of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2011, there were 1033 women (10.2% of the total personnel) deployed across these three major operations. In addition, the roles and tasks undertaken by women have become more diverse, including service as helicopter pilots, surgeons, logisticians and explosive ordinance experts. Women have participated in combat-related activities including accompanying combat patrols in close support and communications roles. Significantly, the cohort of servicewomen who have deployed now also includes mothers with dependent children. Further, ADF gender restrictions have recently been lifted, allowing Australian women to be involved in every aspect of military service, including frontline combat.1
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