Overcoming Homelessness with Support from VA
Transitioning from the Army to civilian life was difficult for BriGette. She no longer had the support structure of the military, and she and her daughter were both experiencing health problems. Symptoms of PTSD and TBI impacted her marriage and ability to work. After becoming homeless, BriGette turned to VA to help her get back on track.
Women Veterans At-Risk of Being Homeless and Homeless
It is estimated that there are approximately 75,000+ homeless veterans are on our national streets every night. It is projected that women veterans make up 8% of that population expected to grow to 10% in the next 3-5 years. These statistics are gathered through the Challenge Report which are homeless that can be counted and identified. Women veterans don’t identify themselves as veterans and when asking for services they are not asked if they are a veteran. Women tend to move from family member to family member and friend to friend when homeless so they are not counted in the homeless population because we cannot find them. In summary the statistics we feel are low and that is why it is so very important to outreach to women veteran so they can be identified and we can start to meet their needs.
Women Veterans are subject to the same stressors that male counterparts experience with very little is known as to how women process and handle them. i.e. Combat Stress.
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Military Sexual Trauma, Traumatic Brain Injuries (signature injury of current war) and Domestic Violence.
- The role of women in the military has changed from nursing and admin to combat and front line supportive roles. Thus, current Military Occupation Specialty (MOS jobs done in the military) do not always translate into the civilian market place which significantly affecting our women veterans.
- Homeless female veterans may require significant retraining depending on their military occupational specialty in order to qualify for and improve their ability to maintain employment in the civilian marketplace.
- Identifying Women Veterans ▪Traditional outreach efforts are less productive in identifying and locating female veterans than their male counterparts.
- Female homeless veterans are less likely to reside in the camping areas and shelters that have been the target of traditional outreach efforts.
- Homeless female veterans are often moving from residence to residence or if they have children they have usually been referred to family housing providers.
- Female veterans are less likely to identify themselves as a veteran and often are never even asked if they are a veteran during intake sessions with homeless service providers.
The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans’ reports that of the 260 programs providing services, shelter and counseling to homeless veterans, only 8 have special programs for women veterans.
How to help be a part of the solution
Collaborate with a non-profit organization such as Veterans First Ltd. that is dedicated to the mission of changing and enhancing the lives of our women veterans, their families, our homeless and those at risk of being homeless thru building a team of collaborating partnerships. We have establish and continue to build this team which consists of Arizona Department of Veterans Services, non-profits, corporations, veteran, community and faith based organizations, groups and individuals and our volunteer network that are dedicated to assisting Veterans First with its mission. Because of this team and collaborations we have renovated and opened the first affordable housing for women veterans in Arizona called Mary Ellen’s Place and will start renovating Sallie’s Place an eight- two bedroom apartment complex that will be affordable housing for women veterans with children in 2012. We are dedicated to continuing with affordable housing and working to create women veteran shelters which does not currently exist in Arizona and much of the nation. These shelters will provide a hand up with immediate housing and care for our homeless women veterans and their children. Together and only together we can make a difference in the lives of our women veterans and their families who have and continue to protect our families, our friends and our Nations Freedom. Please contact Joan Sisco or Mary Ann Derryberry with any questions or comments.