Women veterans often feel like isolated outsiders during and after military service.
During service, they repeatedly feel too visible as a minority and endure sexism, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. After service, they are seldom recognized by their peers in male-dominated veteran organizations and in society at large. These courageous women, who once earned equal pay with equal responsibility in service, become outsiders in civilian life due to training and habits typically associated with the masculine military culture.
Post-service they often come to feel cut off from their peers and from the more traditional gender roles of the greater civilian community. This isolation leads to poor physical and mental health outcomes, as well as housing and employment instability. Women have distinctly different experiences and needs from men, and women veterans have a patently different experience from civilian women, giving rise to the need for women-veteran-specific services.
Military servicewomen are twice as likely to suicide than civilian women and three to four times more likely to be homeless. They need a safe place to process their experiences, and they need to know that they are not alone in their experiences during and after service. Women need supportive relationships, acknowledgment, and validation, and they deserve the same honor and recognition as their male counterparts.
This project will fund a 4-day, 3-night retreat for up to 20 women veterans in Philomath, OR. Participants will engage in talking circles, expressive arts and somatic therapies, indigenous ceremony, and medicinal plant education and harvesting as a sampler of Red Feather Ranch’s core practices in transcending trauma through relationships with land, livelihood, and community. Multiple social workers, farmers, artists, and indigenous elders will facilitate group activities. This pilot retreat is the first of a series.
Planting Gratitude an Inspiration
Synergizing Resilient Relationships
Our larger, longer-term project and mission is to provide transitional housing for women veterans and their children. By hosting this retreat we are building a foundation of support and trust within the women veterans community, the local community, and beyond. After the event, we anticipate participants self-reporting improved skills for dealing with emotional difficulties (trauma, intrusive thoughts, suicidality, anger, etc.) as well as experiencing greater hope about the future.
Projected costs for this pilot project are $15,000, supported by grant funding, in-kind, and an online peer-to-peer fundraising campaign produced and managed by Red Feather Ranch. This event is free for veterans. Proceeds will be used for participant lodging and meals, transportation costs and honoraria for facilitators coming from outside the local area, and transportation and child-care costs for participants should those costs prevent them from otherwise attending.