LEEIA ISABELLE - U.S. NAVY
Navy veteran Leeia Isabelle survived a sexual trauma during her time in the military, but like many other men and women, did not report the assault.
“I wanted to bury it, make it go away,” said Isabelle. “It was over so I wanted to leave it in the past, but it didn’t go away. And it affected my relationships with the people around me.”
Her road to recovery has been long, with periods of isolation before finally finding healing through group therapy with fellow women veterans, cognitive behavioral therapy and ultimately by getting involved with other veterans in her local area.
“When I joined DAV I was pretty much checked out mentally, I was just going through the motions and I wasn’t really fully engaged in my life,” said Isabelle. “They helped pull me out of that shell of isolation.”
Veterans, she explained, share an unspoken understanding.
“I haven’t shared too many of my experiences with other members but I feel like they understand, and that made me comfortable and feel like I was in a safe place.”
Isabelle said her local DAV chapter commander fostered a culture of welcoming and belonging within the organization, encouraging her to reach out to other women veterans, acknowledging the importance of building a diverse network of perspectives and experiences.
“DAV is very focused on the underrepresented demographics within the veteran community,” said Isabelle. “That’s what sets this organization apart from other groups for me.”