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Factors Associated with U.S. Military Women Keeping Guns or Weapons Nearby for Personal Security Following Deployment.

Sadler AG, Mengeling MA, Cook BL, Torner JC. Factors Associated with U.S. Military Women Keeping Guns or Weapons Nearby for Personal Security Following Deployment. Journal of women's health (2002). 2021 Jan 1; 30(1):103-112.

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The relationship between postdeployment health characteristics and U.S. military women and women Veteran's gun/weapons use for personal safety outside of military is not well understood. The purpose of this exploratory study was to determine if Operation Enduring and Iraqi Freedom era military women and women Veterans keep guns/weapons nearby for personal security outside of military duties postdeployment and factors associated with this. A Midwestern community sample of US Army and Air Force currently serving Military women and women Veterans (? = 978) who had deployed to Iraq/Afghanistan (I/A) or outside of the United States completed telephone interviews (March 2010 to December 2011) querying sociodemographic and military characteristics, combat and gender-based trauma, and guns/weapons use postdeployment. Data were analyzed in June 2019 with chi-square, Fisher's Exact test, and odds ratios. A classification tree analysis identified subgroups with the greatest proportion of keeping guns/weapons nearby for security. One-fifth of participants reported having guns/weapons nearby to feel secure. Women more likely to report this were younger, patrolled their homes for security (age adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 7.0); experienced combat (aOR 3.0-4.9) or gender-based traumas (aOR 1.9-2.0); self-reported mental health conditions (aOR 1.5-4.3), including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD; aOR 4.3); or relied on friends/family for housing (aOR 4.8). Most had seen a provider in the preceding year. The classification tree found women patrolling their homes, PTSD positive, and injured/wounded in I/A had the largest proportion of women keeping guns/weapons nearby for security. Keeping gun/weapons nearby for personal self-defense is a potential marker for complex postdeployment readjustment conditions and an overlooked public health concern. Provider recognition and assessment of women's postdeployment fears and safety-related activities are essential to address military women and women Veterans and their families' safety in this high-risk population.

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