Female Veterans Report More Sexual, Mental Trauma

03/28/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Randi Kaye and Ismael Estrada CNN

On a good day, Keri Christensen spends the day watching her children. She prepares their meals, gets them ready for school and helps them with their homework.

But this housewife and mother of two is far different than most of the women living in her Denver, Colorado, suburb.

She's an Iraqi war veteran, among the first women in the United States to be classified as combat veterans.

Even though she's been home from the war for more than 2½ years, she's now fighting another battle -- this one with depression, nightmares, sleeplessness and anger. She says all of it is caused by her time in Iraq.

"I start feeling those feelings of 'I'm not worthy. I can't raise my family,' " Christensen said.

Women have made up about 11 percent of the military force in Iraq and Afghanistan in the past six years, according to the Department of Defense; that's an estimated 180,000 women in the war zone. The figure dwarfs the 41,000 women deployed during the Persian Gulf War and the 7,500 who served during the Vietnam War, mostly as nurses.

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