Building Veteran Homes, Building Veteran Lives
Move that bus! The Extreme Makeover bus moves and there is the new house for a worthy family. This week, the military/veteran online community has been buzzing with the news that Extreme Makeover is in Fayetteville, NC, right outside the gates of the mammoth Fort Bragg – the famous home of Airborne troops.
This time, they aren’t only rebuilding the home of a single family; this is the home of Barbara Marshall, who according to American Women Veterans on Facebook , is a Navy Veteran and former chaplain. She began taking in women veterans who were homeless
Her home is called Steps N Stages Jubilee House. Five previously homeless women veterans live there, and Ms. Marshall also assists 30 other homeless women veterans who need help every month. They have bonded together with their fellow veterans, helping each other while they are helped.
As the website at Extreme Makeover: Home Edition says:
Jubilee House needs additional space and resources to continue the work they are doing with the women. Barbara would like to live in the house, so she can help the women in every aspect of their lives as they get back on their feet. She’d also like her son, who is developmentally delayed, to have a place in which he can thrive. Barbara’s life is dedicated to these women – they are her mission, her family, her passion. The EMHE team can help her move closer towards her dream of ending homelessness among women veterans and honor the brave women who’ve sacrificed so much for our country.
The plan is to build a home to house multiple families – that’s right, families. For many of the veterans on the street, there is also a family in crisis; children without a parent; a spouse left waiting and wondering what happened. Healing the veteran includes healing the family.
At Jubilee House, women veterans learn to transition. Recently two women living at Jubilee House were given complete makeovers at the grand opening of a store; learning how to dress as a professional looking for work is difficult, when you have worn the same outfit to work every day for years! One of the women is not only looking for work to be able to get off the streets; she also wants to get her children back.
The Fayetteville Observer noted that Ms. Marshall and the 5 women and two children residents at Jubilee House are spending this week at Disney World, and put out a call for volunteers. The military community has responded, and the veteran community as well; local politicians have rallied around.
While this is a wonderful, marvelous thing to do, we also need to remember that there are hundreds of homeless veterans in our towns and cities.
“I’d say that on a normal night there are at least 200 to 300 women veterans, who either couch surfing, sleeping on the streets or just not certain on where they’re going to lay their heads,” Marshall said.
We need to make sure our veterans are getting help, as I described in Feeding Veterans . Fantastic groups like Homes for Our Troop and Building Homes for Heroes and Operation Coming Home build specially adapted homes for wounded veterans, but the need is so much greater than these groups can handle. Many veterans don’t need a specially adapted home, as their wounds don’t require wide doors for a wheelchair, or a roll in shower. They need a safe place, to bring up their families and start the next chapter in their lives.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development – HUD- and the VA announced
“that HUD will provide $46.2 million to public housing agencies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to supply permanent housing and case management for 6,790 homeless veterans in America.”
With an approximate 106,000 homeless veterans on the street every night, this is a start… but a drop in the bucket. Kudos to Extreme Makeover and the crew for helping Ms. Marshall! But as a country, we cannot continue to allow our veterans to “fall through the cracks”.
P.S. . AWV has been tasked with collecting pictures of women veterans for a project for the house, – if you have any pictures, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org – (don’t copy and paste, you need to type in the address)
Photo by nan palmero