Upstate New York retreat offers new hope for female veterans

Female veterans participate in group talk therapy at Camp Wiawaka in upstate New York.
CBS News

(CBS News) For the last century, working women have traveled to Wiawaka, a restorative lakeside retreat in New York state for to relax and recharge. The retreat center is reaching out to female veterans in an effort to help them work through the psychological scars that so often accompany military service. Every summer, the non-profit hosts retreats for female veterans.

On "CBS This Morning" Thursday, contributor Lee Woodruff got an inside look at some of the incredible transformations the female veterans experience during their respite at Wiawaka.

(Click on the web extra video below to hear a letter from one of the many women who have sought refuge at Wiawaka through the years)

Woodruff explored the 60-acre lakefront property, which was deeded to social activist Mary Fuller in 1905 as a retreat for women working in New York's garment factories. Wiawaka, aptly translates to mean "the great spirit of women and Woodruff spoke with some of the veterans about their experience there.

Brigette McCoy was stationed in Germany from 1988 to 1991 and claims she was raped by a non-commanding officer during her service. McCoy is at Wiawaka this summer, and, like many at Wiawaka, she suffers from M.S.T. or military sexual trauma.

"Wiawaka adds another dimension because of its history and because it is a place for women," said Naj Wykoff, founder of Creative Healing Connections, a non-profit that uses Wiawaka for women seeking recovery from trauma. During their time there, the veterans gather for talk therapy, healing massage, and arts programming.

"It just feels like the atmosphere was set for us like someone said, 'There's going to be these women veterans and we have to have everything right for them' just feels right as rain," McCoy said. McCoy has visited Wiawaka twice.