As more women join the United States Armed Forces (the Army is now 15 percent female) and more of them see combat, it’s an unfortunate truth that the number of homeless female veterans continues to grow. What’s truly frightening is that female veterans are becoming homeless at a faster rate than male veterans.
What’s worse, homeless women regularly say that they face unique threats living on the streets. Add to this the fact that many homeless women also have children to care for, and the need for quick solutions is obvious.
Female vets in Florida are getting a little help. The Center for Drug-Free Living broke ground yesterday on a transitional housing unit in Cocoa, Florida called “Operation Home Front” specifically for homeless female vets and their kids. The $1.6 million, 8,500-square-foot housing center will have seven two-bedroom apartments with shared living and dining areas. Women and their children can stay for up to two years while receiving substance abuse and mental health assistance. The groundbreaking was attended by Assistant Veterans Affairs Secretary Tammy Duckworth, who lost both her legs in the war in Iraq.
The few dozen women this center helps at a time is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to the nationwide estimate of 6,500 homeless female veterans, but for them and their children, it will make all the difference. Also encouraging for future efforts are the funding sources: more than a million dollars came from the Department of Veterans Affairs, another half million came from local government and a private donor gave $250,000. The center will be completed by summer 2011, and the Center for Drug-Free Living anticipates building a similar men’s unit. http://homelessness.change.org
Published January 23, 2010 @ 12:15PM PT