MEA2: Offerings for Women Veterans


Women’s Retreat Room

Each day during normal workshop hours a designated “Women’s Retreat Room” will be available only to women veterans in Ross Hall. Regardless of the trigger, be it MST or combat, this space will be both a sanctuary and, hopefully, a place of congregation where women veterans can draw on each other for strength.

Location: Ross 100 Hours: 8 AM – 6 PM

Your Women & MST Survivor Representative

If you are a woman veteran and/or survivor of MST your representative is Miette Wells. She will be available via email leading up to the event should you want to voice a concern or make a suggestion about how to better accommodate the needs of women veterans. She will also manage the Women’s Retreat Room during the event. Miette’s email address is

1Bio: Dr. Miette Wells enlisted into the Air Force in 1987 and became a Law Enforcement K-9 Handler. At her first, and only permanent duty station, Dyess AFB, Tx, she was deployed three times with her Military Working Dog, Killer – B478. Her first deployment was to Panama in 1988, then again to Panama the next year in 1989, during Operation Just Cause. The final deployment was in 1990 during Operation Desert Shield/Storm to Saudi Arabia.

During her enlistment she endured continual sexual discrimination, sexual harassment and multiple sexual assaults. Her enlistment ended with her squadron threatening her if she spoke about the incidents, she would be discharged.  She talked and consequently was discharged with a 39-10 Discharge, Under Honorable Conditions, and a mental diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder. Immediately upon discharge she petitioned to have her discharge upgraded and it was, to Honorable. Her diagnosis has been changed to service-connected PTSD caused by experiences of combat and military sexual trauma. During her enlistment she also experienced intentional and accidental head injuries (TBIs) causing post-concussion syndrome.

Dr. Wells is the author of several articles on Military Sexual Trauma and Traumatic Brain Injury, as well as an award-winning author for her books on Military Sexual Trauma. Her advocacy for MST survivors began in 1989, while she was still enlisted and continues today.

Special Events Just for Women Veterans

“Women Veterans Meet & Greet”

DateThursday, May 14, 2015

Time: 4:30 PM

Location: “Women’s Retreat Room” (Ross 100)

Leader: Dr. Miette Wells

Description: An informal gathering of women veteran attendees, this session is about making friends, sharing stories, and learning about the offerings/resources available at the Military Experience & the Arts Symposium.

“Women Veterans Writing Workshop”

women-in-uniform-696x348Date: Friday, May 15, 2015

Time: 9:45 AM

Location: “Women’s Retreat Room” (Ross 100)

Capacity: 1-10 participants

Instructor: Jerri Bell, Managing Editor, O-Dark-Thirty

Instructor Bio: Jerri Bell is the Managing Editor for O-Dark-Thirty, the literary journal of the Veterans Writing Project. Her Navy assignments included sea duty on USS Mount Whitney and HMS Sheffield and attaché duty at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia. She also served in collateral assignments as a Navy Family Advocacy Program Officer, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Program Officer, and sexual assault victim advocate. She has published both fiction and nonfiction, and her work has won prizes in the West Virginia Writers annual competition and from Words After War. She lives in Southern Maryland with her husband and two teenage sons.

Workshop Description: In 2012, Veterans Writing Project director Ron Capps asked Jerri Bell to think about why women veterans attending Veterans Writing Project seminars spoke up less frequently about their experiences, and challenged her to design a seminar that would give women veterans a safe space to speak and write. She realized that in order to create a credible seminar, she would first have to write about her own experience with violent sexual assault and see the piece through to publication. That experience enabled her to design and facilitate the first Veterans Writing Project seminar exclusively for women veterans, held in the fall of 2014 at the VA Medical Center in Washington, DC. This workshop, the “Writing About Trauma” module of that seminar, covers cultural factors that inhibit women from telling their stories; writing trauma narratives for personal use and for publication; and the risks and benefits of writing about personal trauma. Some writing prompts will be provided, and participants will have an opportunity to write from a chosen prompt if desired.


“Engage the Light: Photography as a Tool for Communication, Camaraderie, and Healing” (Women Only)

ETLlogoDate: May 16

Time: 1 PM

Location“Women’s Retreat Room” (Ross 100)

Capacity: 1-20 participants

Instructor: Tif Holmes

Instructor Bio: Formally trained in music, with a terminal degree and over twenty years of experience as an educator and classical performer, Tif Holmes is currently most active as a photographic artist and writer. Her visual repertoire ranges from landscapes and portraiture to abstract and conceptual works, revealing life’s wild beauty as well as the undiluted truth of human suffering. Her writing explores the interconnectedness of the natural world and reveals the importance of the wild in her own life and work. In 2011-2012 she created and maintained The Collaborative Photo-Haiku Project which aimed “to encourage exploration and expression through digital photography and modern haiku.” Currently, she leads free expressive photography workshops for “at-risk” populations, and is the founder of “Engage the Light,” a veterans-centric photography group which hosts weekly photo-walks in the Lubbock, Texas, area to promote communication and camaraderie within the local community through the art of photography. Tif completed an eight-year enlistment in the United States Army, achieving the rank of Staff-Sergeant. She is a member of the International Guild of Visual Peacemakers and is purposefully committed to their Ethical Code, their values, and their vision.

Workshop Description: Camera and removable memory card encouraged but not required.] This workshop will explore the use of photography as a means to communicate personal ideas, strengthen camaraderie, and promote healing from traumatic experiences. From contemplative photography and photo-haiku to the “found words” concept to organizing your own veterans community photowalks, we will discuss ways in which the camera can help us break up patterns of negativity, fear, and reclusiveness. From the Engage the Light website: Photography is a powerful way to communicate our unique experiences and explore our connections to each other and to the world around us. To create photographs, we must engage a physical source of light. The camera can’t operate in complete darkness any better than humans can. Additionally, we must engage the world around us. Our interactions with one another can be an emotional source of light—a way to take positive action even in the darkest of times. As Martin Luther King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that.” The Engage the Light curriculum seeks to engage both literal and figurative light: the light required to make photographs and the light that exposes the darkness and allows interconnection and empathy to develop. Through this process, we not only create compelling images that communicate what words often cannot, but we also create a strong network of individuals who engage one another and the world with compassion and creativity.