This story is part of DAV’s 2024 report, Women Veterans: The Journey to Mental Wellness. The report is a comprehensive assessment of the unique factors contributing to the staggering rates of suicide among women veterans and how the system charged with their mental health care can and must do better. Learn more at  

It was during her 15 years in the Ohio Air National Guard when Amber Miskovich’s eating disorder really took off.

“Some of my worst times were in the military, because I was isolated,” Miskovich said.

As a medic who deployed around the country to places and people in need, she was also exposed to a lot of suffering.

“And you realize that there’s only so much that you could do because you’re here helping and then you’re going to leave,” she said. “And I think that that is difficult.”

Miskovich said she was introduced to a 12-step program by other nurses and medics who were also experiencing eating disorders. But what was most life-changing for Miskovich was Save A Warrior, a nonprofit organization that provides retreats and leverages the best interdisciplinary approaches to prevent suicide among veterans and first responders. With a grant from the DAV Charitable Service Trust, Save A Warrior opened a National Center of Excellence for Complex Post-Traumatic Stress in Hillsboro, Ohio, and DAV continues to support the program.

Miskovich attended a retreat after reaching what she described as a breaking point. She was experiencing issues in her marriage and grieving the death of her brother. Along with food, she turned to alcohol and shopping to numb her pain.

“I just kept feeling like … I’m not helping anyone in my family, like I’m hurting them, and it was just probably better if I wasn’t here,” she said.

The Veterans Health Administration estimates that as many as 14% of female and 4% of male patients have eating disorders, numbers Miskovich believes are vastly underreported due to the shame around it. Eating disorders are also linked to an increased risk for suicide.

Miskovich said Save A Warrior retreats get to the root cause of suffering, which she noted starts well before military service for many veterans. As for the eating disorder, she said Save A Warrior allowed her to let go of the shame and guilt surrounding it.

“Shame dies in safe places,” she said.