Date of Award

May 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

Committee Member

Brent Hawkins

Committee Member

Jasmine Townsend

Committee Member

Brandi Crowe


Female veteran experiences have been underrepresented in the literature, especially in regards to veteran programming and recreational therapy (Hawkins & Crowe, 2018a, 2018b; Lundberg et al., 2016). This study seeks to explore the female veteran experience, specifically as it pertains to the adjustment and maintenance of military identity after returning home. Military identity is a newer topic in the field, as literature surrounding this idea does not explore the direct impacts of recreational therapy on this particular type of social identity. Due to military identity being a multidimensional concept, conflict in identity can cause significant psychosocial distress (Hall, 2011; Lancaster, Kintzle, & Castro, 2018; Smith & True, 2014). This study measured military identity, using the Warrior Identity Scale with female veterans who participated in Higher Ground’s outdoor recreation military programs from 2017-2019. Results demonstrated significant changes in public perception of being in the military and military identity pride in participant’s pre to post participation in Higher Ground. Further research is needed to understand the impacts of outdoor recreation and recreational therapy on the different components of military identity, and how identity can change.

Hall, L. K. (2011). The importance of understanding military culture. Social work in health care, 50(1), 4-18.

Hawkins, B. L., & Crowe, B. M. (2018a). Contextual facilitators and barriers of community reintegration among injured female military Veterans: A qualitative study. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation,99(2). doi:10.1016/j.apmr.2017.07.018\.

Hawkins, B. L., & Crowe, B. M. (2018b). Injured female Veterans’ experiences with community reintegration: A qualitative study. Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health,4(2),18-27. doi:10.3138/jmvfh.2017-0020

Lancaster, S. L., Kintzle, S., & Castro, C. A. (2018). Validation of the Warrior Identity Scale in the Chicagoland Veterans study. Identity, 18(1), 34-43.

Lundberg, N., Taniguchi, S., McGovern, R., & Smith, S. (2016). Female Veterans’ involvement in outdoor sports and recreation: A theoretical sample of recreation opportunity structures. Journal of Leisure Research, 48(5).

Smith, R. T., & True, G. (2014). Warring identities: Identity conflict and the mental distress of American Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Society and Mental Health, 4(2),147–161.



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