Raising Awareness About Homeless Women Veterans

A homeless Veteran looks at business attire at a Stand Down in Washington, D.C. in 2011. The number of homeless women Veterans continues to rise, but many have trouble finding assistance. VA photo by Michele Hammonds.

The plight of homeless Veterans remains a serious concern among Veterans advocates. Many new programs, shelters and various other resources are available to reduce significantly the numbers of Veterans without a place to call home.

The Obama administration continues receiving praise for successful efforts toward ending Veteran homelessness by 2015. According to NPR, last year, the number of Veterans homeless on any given night dropped by 12 percent, evidence the President’s plans are working.

However, the number of homeless women Veterans has more than doubled, according to VA. Women Veterans are now  four times more likely than their male counterparts to become homeless.  Resources are needed to meet the increase in demand, especially with the overall increasing population of women Veterans, and women Veterans with children.

VA’s Office of the Inspector General found some women Veterans face serious safety risks.  Some VA-funded facilities place women and children on the same floors as male Veterans and without adequate locks on bedrooms and bathrooms and without barriers between the male and female rooms. The survey also found inadequate lighting in stairwells and hallways.

More women than ever are entering our military and deploying into combat zones, returning home with both the physical and mental health scars of war.

One major change in demographics is the 10,000 new Iraq and Afghanistan war Veteran patients flooding into VA each month.  Of those, more than ten percent are women.

If VA is going to provide effective treatment for all Veterans, then VA must institute a culture change and become more friendly to women Veterans.  Too many Veterans, particularly those who experienced a sexual assault during service, find obtaining prompt and high-quality healthcare at VA to be an intimidating prospect.

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