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 servicemembers are quickly growing as the largest minority within the military, yet female veterans are not often represented widely in the literature (Hawkins & Crowe, 2018a, 2018b; Lundberg et al., 2016). Numerous studies have indicated that female-specific needs are not being met by healthcare agencies and services need to change to fill that void (Hawkins & Crowe, 2018a, 2018b). As such, researchers should conduct studies in order to help develop best-practices regarding the provision of services for this population. This research project was developed to help fill the gap in in the literature regarding the various lived experiences of female veterans with recreational therapy programming post-deployment. Additionally, there is a lack of readily available research indicating how practitioners can facilitate social support for female veterans, another purpose for this study. This study is part of a larger multi methods study with a combination of semi-structured interviews and a survey provided to female veterans who are past participants of Higher Ground’s military program (HGMP) in order to investigate how participating in HGMP impacted their perceived social support. This paper will report only the quantitative portion regarding how participating in Higher Ground’s military program impacts the perception of social support that female veterans experience post-deployment. The results indicate that participants experienced an increase in post-deployment support and improvement in family experiences. While it was outside the scope of this project to investigate exactly which aspects of programming potentially impacted the perception of social support, it will explore programmatic aspects so practitioners may consider adding them. Further research should look further into these programmatic aspects so practitioners have a guide for facilitating social support.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.