Publication Date

Spring 2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education

First Advisor

Ileana Ungureanu

Second Advisor

Leonis Wright

Third Advisor

Patricia Robey


Female Marine veterans are a group that intersects two at-risk populations, Marines and female veterans, and the potential struggles associated with them. Marine veterans have among the highest rates of suicide after transition, as well as one of the highest military sexual trauma (MST) rates. Studies indicate that women veterans are at risk for intimate partner violence (IPV), housing instability, and PTSD. Additionally, various social factors impact female veterans, such as a lack of familial support. There are many studies on the overall transitional experiences of the military and even some that evaluate experiences of female service members, but information that represents the population of female Marines is lacking. To assist with this gap in the literature, a phenomenological qualitative study was conducted to explore the lived experiences of female Marines as they transition from military to civilian life. Findings of this study uncovered all participants experienced mental and emotional distress at some point during their transitional process. Those who had a robust support system, were able to discover a sense of fulfillment, and the ability to use various resources voiced having an overall good transitional experience. Participants often voiced concerns related to needing guidance to navigate being an adult in the civilian sector, differences in culture, mental health concerns, difficulty navigating the VA system, and experiencing extended wait times. The findings of this study highlighted five themes impacting participants’ lived experiences: (a) fulfillment and purpose, (b) sense of belonging, (c) cultural differences, (d) support, and (e) health concerns. This study also uncovered resources and barriers that impacted participants’ transition.