Postpartum Depression in the Military

Rachal “Featherstone” Featherston is a non-binary Army veteran who served under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell from 2008 to 2010. They talk about their experience in the Army as a Military Police Officer and their transition out of the military to what she is doing today. They suffered postpartum depression after the birth of their first child and it ultimately led them to leave the military.

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Postpartum Depression in the Military

Featherstone decided to join the military after leaving college to work as an EMT and waitress. They decided she was done with her job as an EMT and waitress, that is when a recruiter cold-called. They were ready to join the Army. Featherstone had already completed the ASVAB and knew she wanted to serve as a Military Police officer. And they headed off to boot camp two weeks after that conversation. They loved the military and felt comfortable in the military environment. Always feeling as if she was an outsider, the military community gave her a sense of belonging.

Life Transition

They quickly married their boyfriend from her hometown and began their career in the Army at Fort Lenoradwood. They were trying to get pregnant and then stopped trying and were surprised to find they were pregnant. When they told her unit they were pregnant they took her off of the regular duties of patrols and put her to work as an admin. They also felt resentment from others in her unit for being pregnant. It was the beginning of the end. They gave birth and after the birth began to struggle with postpartum depression. Featherston and their husband were getting divorced and she was a new mom. It was a hard transition.

The military sent them into the field for two weeks of training requiring them to find childcare for their six-month-old son. They ended up taking him back to her hometown to live with their parents for six weeks so they could attend the training. They continued to pump so they could breastfeed. But even though Obama-care had passed and they had the right to pump there were no spaces available to them. Their depression from their son’s birth and the way they were treated by the Army led to them being discharged from the Army.

Military transition

They found themselves back at school when they left the military. They struggled to relate to their classmates. As a single mom who had experienced so much in the military, they found another veteran as a friend. They graduated and began their path toward becoming a midwife but ended up becoming a psychologist. They are a queer and nonbinary nurse practitioner who now focuses on the mental health of parents, after their own experience with postpartum depression while serving as an active duty soldier. Also, they are passionate about serving the LGBTQ+ community and the intersection of mental health and sexuality.

Connect with Featherstone:

Mentioned in this episode:

Breastfeeding in Combat boots

Student Veterans of America

Hair updates (Army and Air Force)

Sexism Towards Men is Preventing Women From Rising to the Top in Business

Related episodes:

Diving Deep into Military Culture – E135

How Depression Led to Healthy Changes – E96

Finding Mental Health Services for Veterans – E137

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