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Nikki Wooten, PhD, LCSW-C

Making Change Happen

Dr. Nikki R. Wooten has been a member of the U.S. military since 1989, when she enlisted in the Army Reserves. Since that time, she’s served in enlisted and officer roles in the armed forces. Currently, a lieutenant colonel in the District of Columbia Army National Guard, Dr. Wooten has been in the military during two major conflicts, the Persian Gulf War and Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

Now, Dr. Wooten combines her almost two decades of clinical social work experience with her military background to conduct research that can influence military health policy. She would like her research to create meaningful conversations among senior military leadership and military health policymakers about gender, racial, and ethnic differences in behavioral health problem presentation and service utilization. Such discussions would ideally center on disparities in military and veteran health care and stigma and vulnerability among military personnel and veterans. These conversations could result in changes that range from gender-sensitive assessments for post-deployment problems to better mental health services for all military personnel.

Dr. Wooten is inspired to continue this work by her fellow soldiers and family members, several of whom are serving or have served in the military. “I can put a face and a name to some of the outcomes from my research,” she said. Bringing together this personal knowledge with her in-depth understanding of military policies, Dr. Wooten is able to develop research with the potential to have the greatest impact on eliminating disparities in military and veteran healthcare.

Research Background

Dr. Wooten’s research interests include military service and deployment stressors, post-deployment substance use, psychological problems, and behavioral health service utilization in military and veteran populations. Her current research investigates the early identification of substance use and psychological problems among Army women to identify gender differences in post-deployment behavioral health, gender-specific treatment targets, and factors associated with substance use, psychological problems, and behavioral health service utilization.

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