Our first meeting in 2016 was in my living room with 5 other lady veterans. We now have two Lady Veterans Project Chapters, Orange County and the Inland Empire and have over 60 members combined. Our main goal is to heal from our traumas so that we can become healthier sisters, mothers, wives, friends and community leaders.
1 in 4 women are sexually assaulted while serving their country. Suicide rates for female veterans are higher than civilian women and they are the fastest growing segment of the homeless veteran population. These are facts that can not be ignored by those of us who fall into the statistics.
In 2017, my family and I were housed by the VA after being homeless for almost a year. I realized that getting a job was not my problem, it was maintaining it. When the VA diagnosed me with PTSD from military sexual trauma it helped me understand myself and why I behaved the way I did. I was tired of being depressed and not in control of my life so I decided to start making changes within myself.
The past two years in therapy have taught me a lot about myself. After I was raped by a fellow soldier in 2009, I began to think of myself as worthless and my hurt turned into hate. I drank alcohol to forget how much I hated my life. In 2010 I tried to commit suicide by overdosing on pain pills. It felt like my life had spiraled down and I was no longer in control of my life. I was on survival mode for eight years, until I decided to not re-enlist anymore.
In 2016 I was honorably discharged and my recovery journey with the VA started. I am active in my mental health and I am open about my choice of alternative therapy and medicine for veterans. Cannabis alone will not cure PTSD and traditional one on one therapy is not for everyone, we have to work together as a community to better serve and support our veterans.