Iraq Veterans Against the War's first ever Women's Retreat took place over Labor Day weekend at beautiful Raccoon Creek State Park near Pittsburgh.
The Pittsburgh chapter of IVAW hosted the event, providing home-cooked meals as well as child care for participants who brought their children.
For many of the women veterans in attendance, it was the first time they had ever shared their military experiences, including surviving military sexual trauma. One participant noted, "This is the first time I've ever talked about these issues. When I leave here, I will leave behind the shame I have carried all these years."
In addition to the emotional support that the participants shared together, they also accomplished some tangible goals:
1) The group formalized the IVAW Women's Committee, which will continually reach out to women vets and service members offering support and ways to increase their involvement in the GI resistance movement.
2) We inaugurated a Women's veteran zine, "Ain't I a Veteran?" Many of the women in attendance described bad experiences with therapists and other health care providers in the Veterans Administration system. The first issue of the zine will provide guidelines for how to choose a healthcare provider. The second issue will be a survival guide for active duty women service members containing resources on health care, sexual violence support, and other issues related to their rights as military women.
3) We generated ideas for solidarity projects with Iraq and Afghan civilians as part of IVAW's mission to work for reparations, including a water sanitation project and a writing project with Iraqi refugee families in the United States.
A chief reason stated for going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan was to liberate women in these countries, and IVAW women must expose that myth. The idea that a military that oppresses and violates its own women can liberate women in other countries is a farce.
We know that women and children suffer most in war, and we share with them a common humanity. We believe that empowering women is what will end war.
Our work together in IVAW's Women's Committee has just begun. Stay tuned for future updates on our work.
Individual donations from supporters like you is what made this gathering possible.
We thank you!
The Women's Committee of IVAW
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Women veterans organize
This message came yesterday from Iraq Veterans Against the War . It's good to hear about this new Women's Committee: