The perceived invalidation of a woman’s service can also feel as if her experiences during or related to her service, to include combat, service-connected disabilities, and sexual harassment/assault, are also invalidated. In the past, many women either didn’t take advantage of resources available to veterans or found that available resources didn’t take into account the unique needs of women veterans. Today, women veterans are still facing a number of challenges, including being three to four times as likely as their civilian women counterparts to become homeless and 2.5 times more likely to commit suicide.

The number of women veterans continues to grow—currently less than 10 percent of the veteran population, they are projected to make up 16 percent by 2043. The successes of women like Robinson, Ennis, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, Senators Tammy Duckworth and Joni Ernst, Representatives Tulsi Gabbard and Martha McSally, and others are helping to change the impressions people have of women who serve. And efforts by the Department of Veterans Affairs, veteran service organizations, and other groups focusing on addressing the needs of women veterans are slowly improving their transition experience. Efforts for gender equality within the civilian community are also making the lack of conformity to traditionally feminine roles more acceptable.

Still, there are likely more obstacles to overcome in the near future. The lifting of the combat exclusion policy in 2013, for example, has opened the door for female service members to make their way into the final male-only spaces remaining in the military. Recent developments have included the first female Army Ranger school graduates and the first successful Marine infantry officer candidate. With the debates for keeping women out of these areas largely focused on a perceived lowering of standards, it is likely that these women will be required to adopt even more thoroughly traditionally male characteristics in order to succeed in these news roles. Additionally, the inevitable future conflict in which women will be committed to ground combat in large scale numbers will result in an even larger divide in the experiences of military and civilian women.

This means that women, both during and after service, are likely to find being a woman inconvenient for some time to come.