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)
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)
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.
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".
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,
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.
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.
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:
Interview with Jaspen Boothe (courtesy of our intern at my workplace):
|Q.: How big of a problem is homelessness to military women and veterans?