Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Political Science

Content Description

1 online resource (vi, 166 pages) : illustrations.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Patricia Strach

Committee Members

Bruce Miroff, Sally Friedman


Department of Veterans Affairs, policy, soldier, veteran, veterans, women, Women veterans, Women and the military

Subject Categories

Political Science | Public Policy


Despite having honorably served in the U.S. military, many women do not see themselves as veterans. In so doing, they may miss out on much-needed benefits to which they have rightfully earned and deserve. But, the question goes beyond benefit claiming. If women who served in the military do not see themselves as veterans they are also relinquishing power that comes with membership in a politically and socially esteemed group. If women who served in the armed forces do not see themselves as veteran, then what is a veteran? Therefore, this research centers on the question: who, or what entity, defines veteran? As the evidence will show, "veteran" is a construct co-created and defined by the state and society. Thus, although "veteran" is a legitimate political classification granting certain individuals public benefits--a policy constituency--it is also an identity that has been largely predicated on deeply held social beliefs about gender, militarization and most importantly, power. With a well-documented history of American women holding considerably less social and political power than men, a disparity even more pronounced in the hypermasculine atmosphere of the military, we are challenged to reconsider how policy constituencies are established and how individuals understand their identities as members of such groups.