When one thinks about homeless veterans, female veterans do not immediately come to mind.
However, the Department of Veterans Affairs says that women veterans are the fastest-growing segment of the homeless veteran population.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimated in their 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress that over 40,000 veterans were homeless in a single night in January that year, and 9% of those were women. The number of homeless veterans, however, increased from 2% to 9%, compared to only 1% of the increase in their male counterparts.
The VA-funded National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans said in 2016 that the number of women identified by the program as homeless tripled from 2015 to 2016, and the figure is projected to rise by about 40,000 by 2025.
The problem is, however, that many homeless female veterans don’t seek assistance.
Many homeless female veterans have been burdened with military trauma and feel resentment toward the military and the VA, so that’s why many of them do not identify themselves as being veterans.
They tend to stay away from organizations that want to help them, because they feel they were betrayed by that organization in the past.
Data from the VA military intimate trauma screening program shows that one in four women have experienced intimate trauma while in the military.
So, just as homeless male veterans often don’t seek help because they were instilled with a sense of self-reliance and pride while in the military, female homeless veterans are used to be the caregivers for their children and have a tough time seeking help.
The campus of the VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System and the department is taking a holistic approach to help the female veterans get back on their feet.
They treat the entire person: body, mind, and spirit, and it helps the female veterans regain their sense of self-worth and allows them to transition back into the community.