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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Donna Zucker

Second Advisor

Cynthia Jacelon

Third Advisor

Gloria DiFulvio

Subject Categories



Extant research suggests that lesbians, as a group, are a vulnerable population who engage in risky health behaviors and often do not receive regular care from healthcare providers, due to fears of discrimination and mistreatment. Recent research conducted with military Veterans suggests that some lesbian Veterans may engage in similar health behaviors, but may not choose to receive care from the VA. It is not well understood why lesbian Veterans choose to receive care elsewhere, but extant research suggests a trusting relationship between a lesbian and a healthcare provider may increase healthcare utilization. A person’s sense of self, their identity, is key to informing expectations regarding the type of healthcare sought. The purpose of this instrumental collective case study secondary analysis was to analyze qualitative interview data from a mixed-methods study to explore lesbian Veteran identity, and the significance of that identity for use of the VA Healthcare System, and relationships with VA healthcare providers. Twenty-four interviews were open coded and analyzed. Lesbian Veteran identity was discovered to include the identities of hidden, hunted, and betrayed. These identities included themes such as secret societies, and witch-hunts; as well as being policed, preyed upon, and betrayed by the military and colleagues. During the interviews, 10 of the 24 women spontaneously spoke about their experiences with military sexual trauma. These lesbian Veterans shared identities of women who were hidden, were hunted, and were betrayed in the contexts of military sexual trauma and institutional betrayal. The identities transcended sexual orientation.


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Nursing Commons