Appeal for a refuge for women veterans

Shawna Foster, Iraq Veterans Against the War, 18 September 2012

My name is Shawna Foster and I served as a Nuclear Biological Chemical Specialist in the U.S. Army. Today Iím a member of the Board of Directors for Iraq Veterans Against the War. Iím writing you today because we need your support to fund a retreat for women veterans.

Servicewomen face serious challenges during their tours of duty. Individuals in my own platoon threatened to kill me because I was "worthless" as a fighter, in their opinion. These threats and my antiwar stance on Iraq caused me to go absent without leave (AWOL) from the military. Rape and abuse have reached epidemic levels in the military while women service members are disproportionately denied benefits.

Two years ago, IVAW had its first ever women veteransí retreat. Members came together to share their stories, publish a Ďzine about the links between gender oppression and military service, and help each other heal. Before the women's retreat, I never spoke to anyone about what happened to me. It started me on a personal journey toward wholeness I could not find anywhere else. 

Thatís why Iím reaching out to you now to ask for your support for this yearís womenís retreat. Your contribution can help IVAWís female members gather again for a leadership retreat focused on the needs of women veterans.

Women veterans in IVAW are a primary source of support in my development as a grassroots leader.  They emboldened me to do things like throw my medals back at the NATO Summit in Chicago and declare before thousands of protestors that I was one of the 40,000 military people who deserted because of the lies of the Iraq War. I could not have done what I did at NATO without my female "battle buddies" there believing that I could.

Since IVAW's founding, women veterans have been organizing in the trenches and playing critical leadership roles. Despite our small numbers within the military and in IVAW, women are leading this organization Ė as founders, board members, chapter leaders, field organizers and national office staff.  This retreat is the largest gathering of our women to date, and it comes at a critical time as we prepare to welcome thousands of veterans home as the drawdown of occupations begins.

Your support now is what will make this gathering happen.

We need to raise $7,500 to provide full sponsorship our women members to attend, some of whom are still on active duty in the military.  Your generous gift today will help us strengthen our leadership to carry on IVAW's long-term struggle to build our GI resistance movement. 

Visit and be sure to write "Womenís Retreat" in the Designation Code area.  We are relying on you to help us come together, so please give today.

I am grateful for your continued support.


Shawna Foster

Board of Directors

Iraq Veterans Against the War