My apologies if this is in the wrong section. I don’t know what section my issue belongs because it’s so unordinary. I have research hours online and can’t seem to find anything remotely close to what happened to me.
I will try to keep this simple. I am a female combat veteran with multiple tours to Iraq, I left the military in 2013 and similar to other Veterans, had my fair share of issues as a result of PTSD. I’m also service connected 70% by the VA for PTSD after multiple rehabs, suicidal attempts and so on...
Fast forward up until Jan2019. After therapy, medication and the other coping mechanisms they teach you, my life was fantastic with a great career and as long as I continued my treatment, life skills, knowing triggers and medication uptil then I was doing pretty well the last four years. I saw a therapist, shrink and was on a few different medications directly for mental health.
Then it all ended after I attended this co-Ed Veteran wilderness trip with a nationally recognized organization Jan 2019.
The medical portion and phone interview is when I indicated I was on medication and I had PTSD. I didn’t divulge specific details because at the time I didn’t see an issue or reason for them to know specifics. I did however specifically ask during the interview, because the online photos didn’t show a lot of women in the co-ed courses. I was assured there would be both male and female.
Before my arrival, I spoke with several of the course staff and/or instructors, so I was shocked to find out upon arrival that I was the only female with ten other males on this course. Why didn’t it raise red flags I was very uncomfortable with this, but I tried to make the best of the situation since this course costs a few thousands of dollars for five days. I was even more uncomfortable having to share a tent with two males I’ve never met before, but I didn’t want to be separated as an outcast in a tent by myself, in the middle of a forest with no cell service or means of transportation.
During the course with ten males who were prob former navy seals, my marathon running legs couldn’t keep up. The 50lb backpack was a lot for me since I weigh less than 105 pounds, but I did my best to keep up. As a side note: I’m in excellent shape, but I’m not a man.
For three days I put up with snide remarks and comments. Since I was the slowest the entire group had to take a different route instead of rock climbing a mountain.
I am not going to continue to go on about the utter misery I was in, alone, 2000 miles from home, no cell phone and being surrounded by a bunch of grunts who hate women or think they belong barefoot in the kitchen. Ironic when everyone had to choose jobs, I always ended up having to cook for everyone. The jobs were “supposed” to rotate but I somehow always seemed to get skipped.
Part of my PTSD is a result of sexual trauma and other female issues of things I dealt with while in the military. Being thrown back into the exact situations that I am in therapy about was not therapeutic. It got bad enough that I ended up quitting and leaving two days early, making me feel like a failure but happy to be out of that Situation. When I told the instructor how I felt, they said it was in my head. But why would I stay when the reason of going On the trip was to be sociable and work as a team but instead I did everything except sleep, completely alone. I was adamant on leaving so to seclude me even more, and they made me sit about 1000 feet away all by myself for 2 hours until someone came to get me, instead of just allowing me to leave quietly. Walking past them as I was going felt like I was walking a plank to the ocean.
I want to emphasize I have had no real issues in 3-4 years. Like, everyone, I have good days and bad days but as time passes everything gets a little easier.
That trip felt like a deployment all over again. Males being males but since I’ve returned my nightmares came back, I’m calling off at my job or late every day. I avoid people unless I have too and everything else that I have worked so hard to overcome.
I don't want another woman to be put in the situation I was. I feel at some point in the process; mainly since this organization deals with female veterans who most have faced some sexual trauma while serving, they should at the minimum told me there would be more males than females instead of expecting a woman to be okay with sleeping alone with two strange men in a tent.
It's taken me two months even to reach out and talk about this in the open because I’m still reeling everything that happened, but I feel I should at the very least have gotten an apology.
If I had known before arriving, I would have never taken the trip and knowingly put myself into a situation that has previously caused me so many issues to end up going through everything again.
My question is if there is anything I can do legally to ensure this organization has a better system in place to avoid putting another female veteran in a situation like I was and so nobody else has to take three steps back after finally getting ahead? Or at the very least offer a female-only version of this particular course?
Sorry for extended version and if this is in the wrong topic. Thanks