Homelessness: Now a Female Veterans Problem Too
Homelessness is no longer just a problem for male veterans.
It’s now an escalating crisis for female veterans too.
The population of female veterans without permanent homes has more than doubled in the past six years and may continue climbing higher now that the Iraq war has ended and the Afghanistan wars nears completion.
There’s a deeper level of concern, however, for homeless female veterans whose numbers rose from 1,380 to 3,328 between fiscal year 2006 and fiscal year 2010, the Associated Press recently reported, citing data from U.S. Government Accountability Office.
Many women are returning from foreign war zones with the same stresses as their male counterparts, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) --- but they are also returning with gender-specific problems that make them more susceptible to homelessness.
Some have suffered sexual assault and remain too traumatized to share common space with men in shelters. Many are single mothers who struggle to find adequate housing for themselves and their children. Female veterans are also more likely to be jobless: Unemployment for female veterans who've served since September 2001 was 12 percent last year, slightly higher than for their male counterparts, Associated Press reports.
It’s good to know the VA is addressing this unfortunate trend.
The VA has established special programs available to female veterans, including supportive services for Veteran families, HUD-VASH housing vouchers, Grant and Pier Diem program, and specialized health care and mental health services for women— all designed to better meet the needs of women Veterans.
Our agency, Veterans Support Organization, is doing its part too.
We are helping needy female veterans get their lives back by offering them jobs and safe housing. We give them extra support because we know how hard it is to get back on track once the bottom falls out.
I know how hard it is to pull oneself out of homelessness. Hundreds of veterans that VSO has helped over the years have told me that it’s a deep struggle to overcome feelings of low self-esteem and being helpless.
But they found the strength to contact an agency to help them --- like VSO --- and they steadily lifted themselves out of their situations. They realized that homelessness is a temporary setback and that life has lots of opportunities to offer them.
Veterans currently homeless or at risk of being homeless are encouraged to contact VA services by calling the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838), or by going online at www.veteranscrisisline.net.