Many female veterans return from their military service with physical and psychological difficulties that make it difficult for them to cope in civilian society– and often lead to homelessness. The General Accounting Office released a report on Monday that shows that the number of homeless female veterans “more than doubled” from 2006 to 2010, according to MSNBC.com. These numbers do not include veterans living in shelters.
These women, who give so much for our country, are clearly not being served when they return from combat. Part of the problem is that many female veterans are not aware of the services available to them, including shelters. Another problem for single mothers is that many shelters open to female veterans do not accept children.
Life on the streets obviously exposes these women to additional risks of psychological and physical abuse, creating a vicious cycle that worsens the victim’s psychological state.
This is not an acceptable situation for our nation’s female war heroes.
One support group called Grace After Fire is dedicated to helping women adjust to life outside the military. CBS.com reports that female veterans “are twice as likely as civilian women to be unemployed, and almost three times as likely to commit suicide. As many as one in five have suffered sexual assault.”
The first step in improving quality of life for our female veterans is to raise awareness. I believe that there is still a slight stigma against women in the military, and many recovery efforts are focused on men. Women have their own issues, which must be addressed separately. In addition, two government agencies, the Veteran’s Administration and Housing and Urban Development, which are supposed to coordinate housing and services for veterans, need to step up their game and support the women who fight for us all.
Photo from expertinfantry via flickr