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Please begin with an informative title:

Exactly that is what Jaspen Boothe told us a couple of days ago in an interview. She was talking about homelessness among her sisters, the women Veterans of the United States. I listened up and wondered what she meant by a "woman's fault" when it comes to homelessness?

Jaspen Boothe is founder of the organization "Final Salute, Inc." and knows something about woman Veterans and homelessness. She has been there. As a true soldier she didn't leave her comrades behind. She did something about her own homelessness and that of her sister Veteran homeless moms. Let me introduce her to you.

Have look at the mission statement from her website.  

The mission of "Final Salute, Inc." is to provide homeless women Veterans with safe and suitable housing.

It is estimated that there are currently 55,000 homeless women Veterans in the United States on any given day. For the sacrifices they and their families have made, this is an unacceptable state for any of them to be in. Final Salute Inc. believes in paying women Veterans with the proper respects due to them for the service they have provided to our country.

We were established to identify and meet the unique needs of homeless women Veterans.

Jaspen was nominated by CNN as a CNN hero and this media salute video I can agree with wholeheartedly. Watch:

Now I bombard you with some hard, dry numbers.

I wasn't able to somehow embed charts from various reports, as I had them all only inside pdf files and I couldn't get 'em out of there and figure out, how to use and upload them. Now you have to just put up with this kind of presentation.

I. Number of Female Veterans:

According to the VA  this report "Women Veterans: Past, Present and Future
Revised and Updated - September 2007"
says on page 8 that there were approximately:

1.2 million female veterans in 1990 (4% of the veteran population),
1.6 million in 2000 (6%).
1.8 million veterans were women in 2010.
1.9 million female veterans (10% of the veteran population) are predicted by the VA for 2020.

At the same time, the number of male veterans is expected to decline. (27.6 million in 1980; 27.3 million in 1990; 24.8 million in 2000; 20.3 million in 2010 and 16.2 million in 2020)

II.  Number of Homeless Veterans:

This report Veteran Homelessness: A Supplemental Report to the 2010 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress says on page 1:

1. On a single night in January 2010, 76,329 veterans were living in emergency shelter, in transitional housing, or in an unsheltered place (e.g., on the streets, in cars, or in abandoned buildings). Approximately 57 percent of those homeless on a single night were sheltered—in emergency shelter or transitional housing—and 43 percent were unsheltered.

2. During a 12-month period (October 2009 through September 2010), an estimated 144,842 veterans spent at least 1 night in emergency shelter or transitional housing programs, accounting for 11.5 percent of all homeless adults.

3. In 2010, homeless veterans accounted for 1 in 150 veterans and about 1 in 9 veterans living in poverty.

4. Most homeless veterans over the course of the year were individuals, living alone without a dependent child (98 percent)

III. Comparison between Poor Male and Poor Female Individual and In-Family Homeless Veterans:

The same report says on page 13:

1. Few homeless veterans are women. However, as shown in Exhibit 4-1, female veterans are more than twice as likely to be homeless when compared to female non-veterans in the U.S. and female veterans living in poverty are more than three times as likely to be homeless than female non-veterans in the poverty population

2. By contrast, individual male veterans appear to be at lower risk of homelessness than their non-veteran male counterparts; however, male veterans living in poverty are at greater risk of homelessness than non- veteran males living in poverty. For all veterans and veterans in poverty, being in a family seems to be protective against becoming homeless.

3. The risk of homelessness for veterans is much lower for persons in families than it is for individuals.

4. This protective aspect of being in a family is most noticeable among females. While female veterans in families have the same risk of homelessness as non-veteran female adults in U.S. families, individual female veterans are 2.5 times as likely to be homeless as individual female non-veterans.

5. Poor female veterans in families are at 1.7 times greater risk of homelessness compared to adult non-veteran women living in poverty.

6. Poor individual female veterans experience more than 3 times the risk of homelessnessas individual non-veteran females in poverty. Male veterans in families are at lower risk of homelessness relative to any of the comparison populations.

IV. How many Grant Per Diem Programs for Children of Female Homeless Veterans

On December 23, 2011, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported:

More than 60 percent of surveyed Grant Per Diem (GPD) programs that serve homeless women veterans did not house children, and most programs, that did house children, had restrictions on the ages or numbers of children.

In our survey, GPD providers cited lack of housing for women with children as a significant barrier to accessing veteran housing. In addition, several noted there were financial disincentives for providers, as VA does not have the statutory authority to reimburse them for costs of housing veterans’ children.

Limited housing for women and their children puts these families at risk of remaining homeless".

V. Statistically Significant Factors that Cause Homelessness:

Another finding in this report June 26, 2009 report of the Congressional Research Service by Libby Perl, also triggered my interest. They concluded on page 11 out of a study from 1994 (called the Rosenheck/Fontana study) that:

1. The two military factors—combat exposure and participation in atrocities—did not have a direct relationship to homelessness.

2. Each of these four post-military variables, in turn, contributed directly to homelessness>.

(1) low levels of social support upon returning home,
(2) psychiatric disorders (not including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)),
(3) substance use disorders, and
(4) being unmarried (including separation and divorce).

In fact, social isolation, measured by low levels of support in the first year after discharge from military service, together with the status of being unmarried, had the strongest association with homelessness of the 18 factors examined in the study.

VI. Risks of Homelessness for Female Veterans:

As recently as Feb. 2013 this report "Veterans and Homelessnessby the Congressional Research Service (Feb.2013) summarizes these findings again like this:

Veterans and Homelessness:
The needs of female veterans, whose numbers are increasing, are not met. Women veterans face challenges that could contribute to their risks of homelessness. They are more likely to have experienced sexual trauma than women in the general population and are more likely than male veterans to be single parents. Historically, few homeless programs for veterans have had the facilities to provide separate accommodations for women and women with children.
So, had enough of this dry stuff?

Then follow me beyond the uppity orange pickle and listen to what Jaspen had to say in her own words, unedited and from the heart:


You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

Interview with Jaspen Boothe (courtesy of our intern at my workplace):

Q.: How big of a problem is homelessness to military women and veterans?
Right now its the fastest growing homeless population in the US to the tune of about 55000 and that number is just counting the women, however over half of them ar single mothers. That doesn’t take into account their children, who are also affected by this epidemic of homeless women veterans.  
Q.: And what do you think is the reason for that?
Well, America as a country has created this … When they set up the supportive system for veterans they forgot about the women who have also served and sacrified. Most of the support programs now are set up for male veterans, And if they have (set up), they may be able to support women, but not to take children. It’s just an American issue. Overall it’s not an administration issue, it’s “hey we forgot to think about the women”, who have also been fighting, bleeding and dying alongside with their brothers.
Q.: What was the reason of why you came up with “Final Salute”?
It stemmed from my own personal situation. Back in 2005, I was a single mother hitted to Iraq, I was a Reservist, currently stationed in New Orleans. When Hurrican Katrina hit in August, I lost everything that me and my son owned. And the very next month I got diagnosed with an aggressive head, neck and throat cancer. And so, you know, after six months, two surgeries and 30 radiation treatments, I was at my medical center, my cancer was in remission, but however what most people don’t realize is unlike active duty, reservists and guardsmen, when they come off a tour or when they are released at least from active duty, they don’t necessarily have a job or home to go back to. And that is the situation I found myself in.

So, I then went to look for resources for women Veterans and none existed, absolutely none, so they sent me where they send all the other women, you know, who don’t receive child support or receive resources, they sent me to the Welfare Office and basically offered me food stamps.

Q.: And then you said you have to do something about it?
Well, you hadn’t heard about homeless women veterans at that point, I always thought about my situation as isolated, living off of food stamps was not an option for me and my son – I needed a job, I needed a place to live, but it was a huge slap in the face, because again  - on the flip side – had I be a man, there were hundreds of transitional housing facilities, thousands of programs that I could have gone to, had I had the right anatomy. But since I was a woman, I was basically offered poverty in return for the service I had rendered to my nation.

In so luckily I had an aunt who lived in Missouri where my son was currently at, I got a job there with the Missouri National Guard and I was able to get back on my feet., get a place and get me and my son back into in our own space.

It wasn’t until I relocated to the DC Metro area that I again started to hear about homeless women Veterans. You hear so much when you are close to the flag pole , And so I certainly thought that things had gotten better, you know since 2005 and 2006, but to learn they had gotten worse – I was just disgusted by it.

And so, as a soldier, we have a set of principles within the so discrete hard wired ethos, my favorite principle was to never leave a fallen comrade. so, just because America wasn’t doing anything, didn’t mean  that I couldn’t do anything. I didn’t know where the money is going to come from, where the first house was gonna come from these were my sisters and I needed to do something and that’s when I decided to found “Final Salute”.

Q.:When you said that the situation had gone worse, how did you notice, what was happening?
Well, I went to research .. hmm, ok “what exits now?”.. that was about three four, years ago.so let’s see if it has gotten better, and I still didn’t find anything. And when I started researching the numbers, at first there were 10000, there were 13000, the numbers just kept growing and the numbers were so skewed, because the government and public organizations were not tracking women veterans as part of the homeless population, they were just tracking women, and they were tracking male veterans. And so while they say that there may be  55000, it could be higher than that. But with looking at those numbers and trying to see what was available, there was still nothing and I was just complete shock and awe. By this time, you know,  we had been doing ten years of war, you know, women are still dying or coming back with disabilities, whether  they are physical or mental … and come back not being able to transition, but however 99% of the service is still pointed to male Veterans.
Q.: And what do you think are things missing right now, what is the situation for female Veterans?
What is missing as a whole, as America does not equate the services and sacrifices the same, if they did, there would also be hundreds of transitional housing facilities, there would be thousands of programs to assist a women.

You know, when I used to start out and going to talk to people and the  … how they thought about why men and women, who were homeless, were different.

So the typical male veteran, he is homeless, because he has been to war, he has seen horrible things, he has done terrible things on behalf of his country, so, America we failed him. It’s our fault that he is homeless.

When it comes to a woman, it is like …well, what did she do to get herself into that situation? Why did she get all these kids that she cant take care of? So, it’s, it’s what I call the rape-victim-mentality, you know, well if she hadn’t been over there at three o’clock in the morning, then, you know, nothing would have happened.

So, if it’s a male veteran it’s America’s fault, if its a women veteran its her fault. So, it’s that type of mentality that has kept us in a current state, you know, that were in - basically.

Q.:What kind of environment do you want create with “Final Solute”?
Well, the top environment I wanted to create and the first question I asked myself was: What kind of environment would I like for me and my children to live in. So, I looked at the neighborhoods, I looked at typical women shelters, they were in crime-infested neighborhoods, there was a liquor store on the corner, there were a bunch of people were hanging out, you walk out in front of the home or the shelter and you are right on the busy street, that’s not a safe or suitable location for a child or a woman and so that’s was my main reason for structuring these homes, where would I want my brain and imaginary junior to be, to grow up. I want them to have a yard to be able to play in, I want them to be safe in their environment, not worried, you know, about to getting shot or getting harmed, they just able to be happy children, grow up where a woman can feel comfortable, go to work and know that her children gonna be ok when they got home.
Q.:Who is supporting you?
Our biggest sponsors: we get the most -- from individual givings, we do have some sponsors like the house of.. right now, Wells Fargo gave us 35000 dollars to remodel the home to put it in living condition. we also received 50000 dollars from Clark Constructions to help the home, HBO has been a sponsor, but our biggest sponsor are Veterans and the American people, who have answered the call. We just passed our three year milestone as an organization, it is very hard to get large corporate donations, when you are in your infancy, but I think that we have shown what we can do in three years without federal and state local fundings and that’s gonna open the doors for us in 2014 to be able to bring on full time staff and more sustainment kind of funding to help us grow as an organization.
Q.: So it is all private sponsors, right? And how many women have been in this house?
I am not sure about this house directly. We have two programs, we are assisting 150 women and children since opening.
Q.:Don’t get me wrong, it’s a wonderful work you are doing here, but wouldn’t that be a responsibility of the VA or the Government?
No.  And I say that the VA gets a lot of the responsibility , because the are Veterans Affairs,  but the uniform that I wore said US Army, it didn’t say VA Army, so it is the responsibility of the US as a country to help and support its veterans. You know, you look at every major national disaster that strikes every place else, you know now it’s the  Philippines, you know we are texting and donating like crazy, we are, you know,  sending checks over there, because we cant bare to see the images of the displaced women and children.

But we don’t have the same sense of urgency when it comes to our women Veterans.

So, whenever you say, hey,  there are tens of thousands of women homeless on American soil and their response is: “Well the VA should do something about that”  - that is 100% unacceptable.

We have the means, the wealth and the influence as a country to take every veteran off the street regardless of its gender, but I don’t know, maybe if we would declare Veteran homelessness an epidemic or a natural disaster then may be Americans would give in droves  they do give for other countries in despair.

Q.: So, you think it’s written not the responsibility of the Military, the Department of Defense or any …?
The issue is, once you leave the military, you are no longer a soldier, airman, marine, sailor, coasty. So they have no further responsibility. There is a lot of talk about,you know, the tax training and things like that to teach you how to transition into civilian life. It wasn’t the Army’s responsibility to teach me how to be a civilian, it was the Army’s responsibility to teach me how to be a soldier and that they did well.

So, what’s lacking is that carrying on the torch on America’s behalf. They (the military) are not, America as a country is getting it wrong, it’s not the Military.

Q.:What are the specific challenges that experienced women that come home from war and deployment and how suitable are the services offered to them for their needs?
I would say that the issues for women are no different from the issues that men face, however our main challenge is that we have children and most of the supportive services that now are trying to help women do not take into account that they need to be able to help children as well.

You know, with 60 % o the grant per diem programs that were surveyed for the 2011 GAO  report, reported that they didn’t take in children because there was no financial incentive to do so. You know, that’s why women are now...they will sleep in their cars, they will see domestic violent situations. But i would say that the biggest issue is just life happening.

There is nothing set up for life happening. You don’t plan to come back from Iraq and Afghanistan and get divorced. You don’t plan to come back from Iraq and Afghanistan and get beaten by your spouse, or lose a job, or any of those things that happened that are not out of your control. You don’t plan to get raped in the military and come back from the military with sexual trauma. so there are things that are out of our control, but however when we are asking for help on the flipside, programs do not exist.

Q.:So, basically in all of your answers you have said that for women it is a huge burden for women in the military to have children?
I am not going to say … it’s not a burden to have children,  but the issue is that the programs that are saying  that they support women are not taking into account the children. As a mother I had to not only to make sure that my needs are met, I had to make sure that the needs of my children are met. So that's the biggest issue, you can come and talk programs, but can't take your children, or we can only accommodate a number of children, or we can only accommodate certain amount of ages of children.

So any program that doesn't take in children of women should never receive one dollar of federal government funding,  because its no secret or its no surprise that women have children. That's what God has led our bodies to do. So if you are having a program that is structured for women, you have automatically be able to accommodate children for the women that have them.

Q.:What made you decide to take your friends daughter with you. It's a huge offer, to take in. Not everybody would do that.
She asked me and I don't think if she wouldn't need the support that she wouldn't have asked me. And also I have been deployed and have had to be separated from my oldest child. So I have the experience that she is going into and I pretty much know the environment that I would have liked to have and did have for my child.

You know I also have a small child, I have a 3 year old, and so I guess from what she is looking at, she is keeping her daughter in a family environment, she is keeping her daughter in a family I already have experience with and I think because of everything that I have done for her and all of the other women, she just trusts me as a mother.

Well, I think she deserves all the support she can get. And it would be an appropriate way to thank her for sacrifices. Here is the Donation Link, located at the Final Salute's Website.  
Happy Thanksgiving to All of You and All of the Women Military Veterans !
Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to mimi on Thu Nov 28, 2013 at 06:55 PM PST.

Also republished by Kossacks for the Homeless Person, Virginia Kos, Maryland Kos, This Week in the War on Women, Sex, Body, and Gender, Sluts, and Kitchen Table Kibitzing.


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