Date of Award

December 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership - Higher Education

Committee Member

Rachel L Wagner

Committee Member

Tony W Cawthon

Committee Member

David S Fleming

Committee Member

Cynthia M Deaton


As of February 2020, women made up approximately ten percent of the overall veteran population in the United States (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2020, February). The National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics anticipated an increase in the number of women veterans to the tune of 18 percent each year, through 2027 (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2017, February). Interestingly, while the overall veteran population has decreased in recent years, the number of women veterans has simultaneously increased (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2017, February).

Nonetheless, institutions of higher education have seen an influx in student veteran enrollments (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d.-b), prompting faculty and administrators to take inventory of the services provided for the special population. Meanwhile, research has shown women student veterans tend to adopt the masculine norms they were taught while enlisted in the military, bringing those ideals to campus as they matriculate; namely, not asking for help (Herbert, 1998; Baechtold & De Sawal, 2009; DiRamio & Jarvis, 2011; DiRamio, Jarvis, Iverson, Seher & Anderson, 2015; Armstrong, 2017). This information, in conjunction with years of research showing positive outcomes associated with faculty-student out-of-class interactions (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1977, 1978, 1979; Pascarella, 1980; Astin, 1993), justified the need for additional research.

This descriptive phenomenological study qualitatively explored the help-seeking behaviors of women student veterans (WSV), with faculty, outside the classroom. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten WSV during the fall 2019 semester at a public land-grant institution in the Southeastern United States. A faculty focus group and online survey were used to establish trustworthiness, alongside multiple other measures such as the use of rich, thick descriptions to report findings and inclusion of a thorough subjectivity statement.

Phenomenological data analysis techniques were used to siphon numerous meaning units from interview transcripts, which were then transformed into themes and essential essences. Using the coping resources outlined in Schlossberg’s Transition Theory (Schlossberg, 1987, 1990, 2011; Sargent & Schlossberg, 1988; Schlossberg, Lynch & Chickering, 1989; Anderson et al., 2011) as a foundation, the essences of WSV help-seeking were aligned with the four S’s: support, self, situation and strategy.



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