Operation Tohidu® served two groups of women veterans in early 2017, noting that more than half of each group cited military sexual trauma as the source of their traumatic experience during military service.
Some women survived multiple assaults during a career of service, others had their service cut short as a result of their experience.
According to the Veteran’s Administration‘s national screening program, in which every veteran seen for health care is asked whether he or she experienced MST about 1 in 4 women and 1 in 100 men respond “yes,” that they experienced MST when screened by their VA provider. Although rates of MST are higher among women, because there are many more men than women in the military, there are actually significant numbers of both women and men seen by the VA who have experienced MST. In spite of this, Operation Tohidu® participants often reflect that they feel under-served with reference to their MST experience and cite struggles in effectively moving forward from the trauma.
How We Help
MVS now runs MST-specific retreats to connect veterans and survivors with shared experience to one another and to promote a framework for moving on.
It is common for sexual trauma survivors to have also suffered from a moral injury, sometimes arising from how their case was handled or their experience of military justice and other times from the sheer fact that members of their team, unit, or military family committed the ultimate betrayal of trust instead of protecting their comrades. The dynamics on these retreats are powerful indeed with warriors often strengthening and healing one another as a function of their own individual journeys through trauma and beyond to renewed confidence, positive relationships and growth.
Melwood Veterans Services’ Operation Tohidu® retreats for MST survivors are held at Melwood’s Retreat & Recreation Center located in Nanjemoy, Southern Maryland. In this safe and secluded environment, veterans, service members, MVS staff and MST survivors work together to address the stigma of MST and to collectively find a release from its grip. It is a program run by veterans for veterans, led by a survivor who exemplifies and inspires post-traumatic growth.
“Tohidu” is a Cherokee word meaning peace of mind, body, and spirit. Operation Tohidu’s® experiential program focuses on confidence-building, outdoor activities, and group discussion in a relaxed, positive environment using proven techniques for the self-management of symptoms, stressors, and responses. Our highly trained staff of veteran facilitators, certified recreational support professionals, and peer mentors facilitate activities that highlight individual abilities and the value of group support to drive post-traumatic growth.
Cost: The 5-day retreat is free of charge to veterans and active duty service members, including accommodations and travel.
Operation: Tohidu is a 5-day retreat designed with the goal of enabling participants to heal from service-related trauma through experience-based learning and other alternative therapies and interventions.
If you are interested in applying please use the link below and mention the Virtual Retreat. Once your application is completed and submitted, Melwood Veterans Services will reach out to you, typically within 48 hours of registration.