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I've been kicking around an idea this week and wanted to run it by this esteemed community before continuing. I want to know if there is a need for my idea to help our growing population of women veterans. Do you think there is sufficient need to justify the expense and effort?

In my hometown of Roanoke, Virginia, population of 305,000, there is a charming 1927 structure that until very recently served as the local YWCA. It has 28 residential apartments, 11 offices, three kitchens, a lap pool, gym and a grand old hotel style lobby. Here are a couple newspaper clippings with additional background and photos.

"This is not just a homeless shelter or transitional center," she said. "This place builds self-esteem. The ladies love it here. We've built relationships with each other. A lot of ladies don't have anybody else, but they've built lasting relationships with other women".

The YWCA Roanoke Valley operates on a $261,668 annual budget, much of which is spent on heating, cooling and maintaining the huge building. Virtually no improvements have been made since the building opened, Woodson said.

The YWCA of Roanoke Valley's budget is cobbled together mostly from grants, government funding, donations and money from the United Way. Included in its funding are a $39,000 State Shelter Grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and nearly $21,000 from a federal Emergency Shelter Grant.

Most pools have a temperature of about 82 degrees, McGuire said, but the YW pool is heated to 86 degrees.

"It's considered a therapy pool," she said.

The water is warm and soothing for elderly and disabled who use the pool for therapeutic purposes.

The temperature also prevents elementary students from shivering when they climb in.

"This is fabulous," American Red Cross instructor Karol Lurch said Monday after teaching second-graders from Fairview and Fallon Park. "It's a great teaching pool. They can get their feet on the bottom." Kitts and Kesler participated in water exercise classes before the pool shut down in 2006. Kesler said she has swum there for 15 years. The women, who looked much younger than their ages, were proof that staying active yields benefits in the later years.

My idea is to provide a safe and secure place for women vets to live with recreation, social worker and therapists (the 11 offices), ect under the same roof.

I spoke with the folks at my local Vet Center this morning about my idea. They thought that it was a great idea and confirmed that there would be federal grant funds available, however the women veterans numbers in our immediate area would not support that large of a venture. I later visited the nearby Salem VA hospital, one of the largest VA hospital complexes in the country, but was not able to speak with any of the staff due to their workload.

More below the fold.

Way back in 1968 my mom worked part time at the YWCA for a little extra pay. She served as a front desk clerk and switchboard operator. It was handy for her because it was only a block from her regular job as switchboard operator for Ma Bell. When I came home on leave from my first tour in Vietnam I walked into the lobby to surprise her and was struck by the grandeur of the lobby and reception area. Marble and brass highlighted by highly polished floors and afternoon light from a stained glass window. That's all of the building I was able to see but it was absolutely stunning. It'd be a very fitting tribute to honor and acknowledge the service of the brave young women who've stepped forward to serve our beautiful country.

So that's where I am for the moment. There is a marvelous facility in a beautiful location with nearby community colleges, medical training facilities and other higher education as well as a tremendous VA hospital close at hand. Is there a large enough women veterans population to justify this endeavor? Being that federal funds would be utilized for the most part would there be a limitation on the geographical area served?

That's why I'm writing you this afternoon. For your expertise, advice and suggestions. I've no experience in grant writing nor do I have personal funds to kick start the endeavor. I'm down to the bottom of my barrel right now and next month isn't looking very sunny but that's beside the point.

I think this would be a wonderful opportunity and could well serve as a model of treatment and sanctuary for women veterans needing a place of their own away from some of the triggers to their problems to begin with. Many of the women who serve in the military report incidents of sexual abuse and assault. It's understandable that those young women would be reluctant to seek help in an environment that is predominately male as the entire VA system is.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I look forward to your comments.

Originally posted to Gordon20024 on Fri May 18, 2012 at 02:05 PM PDT.

Also republished by Virginia Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  May the Force be with you (9+ / 0-)

    This is a lovely idea. I hope you can find funding for it.

    LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

    by BlackSheep1 on Fri May 18, 2012 at 02:41:59 PM PDT

  •  The LAST thing I want to do is (8+ / 0-)

    discourage you.

    But, if you pursue this, I'd caution you to be sure to do so with eyes wide open. The one thing that was a red flag for me was the part about the building not having been renovated since the 1920s. While that assures you of a lot character and originality, it will also assure you of running into some real challenges like: lead paint? asbestos? lead pipes even? windows with the old fashioned weighted sashes that don't open anymore that need to be replaced? an old fashioned boiler based heating system that may need to be replaced? the roof? leaky plumbing? the list can go on and on.

    You would need to have a professional building inspector check it out thoroughly and give you estimates for what needs to be done.

  •  This sounds like a godsend, Gordon. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gordon20024, Lonely Texan, LinSea

    Vetwife is currently undergoing a family situation, but if some others here who work more closely with women vets see this you might have a whirlwind of support.

    There is a definite need, and thank you for seeing the opportunity.

    •  Thank you, glorificus. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lonely Texan, LinSea, glorificus

      I suspected Amanda had her hands full this weekend and might not see this diary. I emailed her seeking a comment.

      The moment I hit the 'publish' button eight other people posted right after me and shoved me half way down the page.

      I've just returned from rereading Scott Wooledge's excellent diary on Survivors of military sexual trauma. I need to read the articles he referenced regarding the Service Women's Action Network (SWAN) and what their needs are in this area.

      "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session." Mark Twain

      by Gordon20024 on Fri May 18, 2012 at 07:00:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Definitely a need. n/t (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gordon20024, glorificus, Vetwife
        •  Thank you, young lady. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          glorificus, Lonely Texan

          How are you?

          "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session." Mark Twain

          by Gordon20024 on Fri May 18, 2012 at 08:57:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm fine thank you, how are you? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            glorificus, Gordon20024

            I have had some friends who are female vets, ptsd mostly, kept them from being stable and really needing help.

            Your idea sounds wonderful.  I would think that you could fill it up easily, especially if you reached out beyond just the immediate area.

            •  I'm getting by for the moment. Didn't want this (0+ / 0-)

              opportunity to slip through my fingers. The realtor's photos don't do justice to the grandeur that the lobby offers and the first impression at entry. There's a sweeping staircase from the lobby up to the second floor 20' above that is a work of art.

              My hope is that the Service Women's Action Network (SWAN) will look favorably on this as I think this would be tailor made for what they are doing. I don't know how restrictive federal funding might be given geographic coverage, etc.

              My background is telecom project management with an emphasis in construction and conformance to FCC regs. I know a little how fed funding operates but have no experience with grants, etc. That's why I posted this diary.

              The DKos family is a wealth of knowledge and experience in matters that can be brought to assist in making this happen.

              I'm not looking to make anything of this for myself. I just don't want to see this facility turned into a yuppie condo for a few bankers and lawyers (not that there's anything wrong with that). It's prime commercial real estate. But it's 'best use' lies in the original intent dating back to 1927 coupled with the current need of our gallant women veterans. They deserve a place of refuge and healing such as this. They deserve much better than what they are getting at present, which is little to nothing.

              No victim of sexual harassment or abuse should have to sit in a waiting room filled with the very people (in their perception) that were the cause of their trauma in the first place. Their treatment and rehabilitation should be external of the normal VA facilities. A Safe Place.

              "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session." Mark Twain

              by Gordon20024 on Sun May 20, 2012 at 03:38:04 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  You are absolutely right (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                No victim of sexual harassment or abuse should have to sit in a waiting room filled with the very people (in their perception) that were the cause of their trauma in the first place. Their treatment and rehabilitation should be external of the normal VA facilities. A Safe Place.
                I wish you all the very very best.  May it happen.
      •  Scott's coverage of that ugly story was great. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Vetwife, Gordon20024

        His pieces were short, but since I think there is a concerted effort to pretend these horrible actions are not happening it is a great achievement to even have that conference.

        Again, kudos!!!

  •  You know what a specialty could be in (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    glorificus, Gordon20024

    counseling? Rape and sexual assault victims. There are a whole lot of women whose sexual assaults have gone either unreported or unprosectuted. The women feel lonely and betrayed by their country.

    A place like that, with possible spas or massage therapies, etc, would go a long way to help return them to not hating themselves. Helping them re-connect with their "pretty side". I'm not saying that all women are "girly", but women who have been sexually assaulted feel very ugly, and very unwanted.

    Just a thought.

    North Carolina: Where you can marry your cousin. Just not your gay cousin.

    by second gen on Fri May 18, 2012 at 09:56:07 PM PDT

    •  Good point, second gen. There are 11 offices. (0+ / 0-)

      separate from the residential portion with it's pool, large lobby and gym, that could be used for consultation and therapy.

      I have a friend who operates a stylist salon that has offered to provide her services for the residents, in house and as needed.

      There are many other possibilities to provide comfort and cleansing of the body and spirit.

      I was in the 'old Army' where there were no front line women. The first female soldier I remember was a nurse at an aide station applying pressure to stop my bleeding as I was being ushered into pre-op. That was 1968 and don't recall a female clerk, cook, driver or whatever before that. But, I thank dog to this day that she was there and I'll never forget the comfort and reassurance she (whoever she was) provided me that evening.

      Makes no difference if a person is in combat or support. Everyone is involved in the mission. Everyone needs to look after the other if the mission is to succeed.

      The young women returning home today need special and extraordinary care and treatment. They've earned it. They deserve it.

      "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session." Mark Twain

      by Gordon20024 on Sun May 20, 2012 at 04:35:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My take dear Gordon (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    glorificus, Gordon20024, DaNang65

    The suggestion up above are terrific.   What you need is community support for our women veterans.  There is a definiate lack in support for women vets.
    My suugestion is to appeal to Washington regardin a grant which I am dumb about regarding writing one ..But there is money not only for Veteran Services but women are considered a minority status.  The grant funding could come from Dept of Veterans Affairs.  or from HHS.
    This could also come from many supports for the disabled.

    This is complex and I shall tell you Why. IMO you may have to partner with 501 c 's to obtain the grant or start one youself which I can tell you from experience sound easy but gets expensive.  28 residents to begin with but don't limit it to just vets.  That can be signature but there are combat vets and spouses of veterans in country that can utilize that facility for stress reliever.  Military families and women veterans should be the foucs including aquatic therapy, but you have to think of this as more than just a place to go.  

    There has to be guidlines met such as safety and building code.  Whereever there is water there has to be some sort of lifeguard on duty if disabled are infvolved because of the possible brain trauma or physical disability as well.  Cramps, flashbacks, panic, etc.
    I see the possibility of a major undertaking that can be completely funded but would require a great deal of work.
    Qualifed safety equipment meeting life guard or coast guard standards are in order,  The complete upkeep of the pool...Chemicals, testing, weekly or bi weekly pool service not to mention handicap assessibility under the Americans with Disabilities in including a Handicap rail inside the pool with a ramp.  
    When we lost our home we leased option a home here in Florida that has a pool but I took the house sight unseen and was surprised to find an enclosed back pool.
    In Florida it is quite common for just about every home or every other home to have a pool of some sort,  It turns out that the pool is handicap equipped whic h has proven a great access when Jack decides to do more than hobble to the railing and stick his feet in.  He has been in so much pain, even this is an effort BUT the VA has  ordered his to get into the pool period,  There or here,  If they want him in the pool in the winter then they are gonna have to hook up the heater because I sure can't afford the bill on that baby.  I have known people to have heated pools and it goes as high as 800 or 1000 a month.  
    The maintenance on that pool is not inexpensive.  I pay from his check a monthly pool person to keep the water right chemically.  I pressure wash the area to keep the algae and mold gone.  I have to keep an eye on the handicap rail and safety lines and life lines are available.
    Choking is a concern for some disabled vets who have had heart problems and or lung disease.    The pool maintenance is 90,00 a month but my oldest son does a TON of work with the upkeep.  We test everyday.  If this house had not had a pool I would have had to try and get the VA to build under Title 38 accessibility for therapy or get an intex .  It is that needed for his circulation and stress on the mobility issue.  

    My husband was an active swimmer and diver.. (like a duck)  before his legs and back went but now there is somewhat of a fear factor.
    I see it.  I have him sit on the steps at least three times a week and let the water carress him.  I am working on him going in as long as I have the safety life hoop handy.
    I buy as I can little thing for his safety and still trying to get the light hooked up for night therapy when he cannot rest.  The light has never worked but I am so careful on that pool area that I only want a licensed pool electrician to do that,  I am saving for this .  

    A pool of the magnitude you are speaking of would require at least a budget of 2000.00 maintenance for safety value.  I am talking equipment and therapy instruction along with  life preserves and life guard on duty.  The liability insurance included.
    The building and pool is really the least of the costs and I do not want to discourage you.. Far from it.. it is doable with a grant and maybe joint effort from The Veterans Administration and HHS and the community.
    I know what one 15,000 gallon pool in my home costs and the safety issues.  AND the liability so therefore this all has to be given careful consideration upon a budget to present to the VA because funding will require these issues to be addressed .

    Jack and I used to be property manager years and years ago after I left 911 and maintained 7 pools for residents.
    There was not a lifequard on 3 of these properties and it was a constant worry but these were college kids.  ADA
    compliance on a Womens Veterans situation would have to be met.  The funding is there.. Be ready for a lot of work and oversight.  

    I suggest you visit a Theraputic Aqua Pool in your area and see what all it entails ..I am enclosing these links.
    Keep in mind these are elderly, disabled and handicapped people you are trying to provide a service for.

    Very important

    I am blessed that this was part of our home and I possibly may can get some help from the VA for the upkeep but I cam managing right now because it is just for our use .  I will try and upload a pic of my pool.  Now that has become a therapy program for my husband.  I guess the angels in heaven knew when we moved to Florida that my husband would soon not be able to walk.
    God as my witness I signed papers on this house without knowledge there was a handicap pool attached.  It was less than my house in Ga.

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Sat May 19, 2012 at 04:02:41 AM PDT

  •  We were blessed that (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gordon20024, glorificus, DaNang65

    when we moved in here.. this was already here..Maintenance is still expensive.  Notice the ramp and handrailings.  The safety equipment is to the left.
    Some you can see.
    This pool is equipped with a heater (I think) but we do not dare connect as it would be waayyyy too expensive to have running.  We found the heater in the garage.
    We just do not dare connect.

    shoot the VA is still on backlog with my aid and attendance.  He has had heart problems since the loss of his mobility...We are talking arms and legs all affected to wheelchair bound just since 6 months after we moved in here.  Guess the angels knew we needed this kind of theraputic thing for some quality of life and pain relief.

    The video was shot two weeks ago when our little girl had that 15 hour wait at the hospital and was sitting outside with the turtle...(an alligator wandered in the yard)....

    I have the uttmost encouragment for ya but you need to know the liability and expense involved.  A lot.
    This is just a family pool and I am very cautious.

    The buzzing you hear is a 10 dollar mini cam but it

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Sat May 19, 2012 at 05:47:24 AM PDT

    •  You really did luck out with that pool. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      glorificus, Vetwife

      Looks like it was made to order for the Vet.

      That's a sweet little girl you have there also.

      "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session." Mark Twain

      by Gordon20024 on Sat May 19, 2012 at 07:05:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh yes we did Gordon... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I mean exactly what his cardiologist and his physical therapist has ordered and that little girl holds his hand in the water as he exercises his feet the edge of the pool.

        You should have seen my face when I opened the sliding door and saw what was on the patio when we moved here.  I kept saying, I wonder why we have handrails ADA accessible.  Well we could always take them little did I know what was in store.  In less than 3 months he had lost his mobility.  By summer he was confined 95 percent to a wheelchair.

        We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

        by Vetwife on Sat May 19, 2012 at 08:31:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  New Law (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gordon20024, glorificus, DaNang65
      New ADA requirements for swimming pools. Compliance by March 15, 2012.
      On Friday, July 23, 2010, Attorney General Eric Holder signed a new ADA regulation into law - ADA Standards for Accessible Design. The law will take effect March 15, 2011. Compliance with the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design will not be required until March 15, 2012. The technical requirements for these new ADA Standards for Accessible Design will affect all new swimming pools and all existing swimming pools.

    This new federal regulation will affect the lives of more than 16% of the US population, which is made up of citizens that have some kind of disability, thus creating the largest minority group in United States.

    The purpose of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is to guarantee the rights of Americans with disabilities. It ensures that all Americans with disabilities can compete for jobs and can enjoy the same benefits as every other US citizen. The first American with Disabilities Act was signed into law by president H.W. Bush in July of 1990. The first ADA regulation in 1991 included items that we have come to recognize as part of our daily lives, such as handicap parking, curb cuts, and accessible restrooms. Recreational facilities in general were not affected by this regulation. However, pool facilities were required to have accessible locker rooms, parking, and hallways with no barriers.

    In 2004, the Department of Justice issued new ADA guidelines, which became the foundation for the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design that will affect all facilities, including swimming pools.

    The 2010 ADA law is divided into sections and chapters. The law is broken into 2 main sections: Title II - this covers government owned facilities, such as the Department of Parks and Recreation, state-run schools and universities, and military bases. Title III – this covers privately owned public facilities, such as hotels, health clubs, private schools, community centers, and private residences that offer public accommodations, such as apartment complexes, private condominiums, and HOA’s.

    The regulation will affect swimming pools, spas, wading pools, and aquatic recreational facilities. The regulation defines 5 permitted means of entry to the pool: Primary - lifts and sloped entries and secondary - transfer walls, transfer systems, and accessible pool stairs. The only mean of entry that can be used on its own without any other means of entry, is a sloped ramp.  

    Swimming pools with less than 300 linear feet of pool wall must have at least one primary mean of entry - handicap lift or sloped entry.

    Swimming pools with more than 300 linear feet of pool wall must have two means of entry - at least one of them must be primary. The primary means of entry must be either a sloped entry or a pool lift capable of being independently operated by a person with a disability. The secondary means of entry can include a  pool lift, sloped entry, transfer wall, transfer system, or pool stairs.

    The regulation provides detailed specifications for the pool lifts and slopes. The main requirements of pool lifts are that the user must be able to operate it independently and it must provide foot rests. Sloped entries can be built in entryways or can be a removable ramp and they must have handrails. Sloped entries must be in compliance with all ADA specifications. The regulation specifies detailed requirements for secondary means of entry as well.


    link listed above

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Sat May 19, 2012 at 06:13:02 AM PDT

  •  Please contact me via kosmail (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    regarding this idea. I have a boatload and a half of recent, personal experience with VA group housing programs. In fact I'm living in VA funded transitional housing at the moment (thus my reluctance to air my opinions publicly - I've got one more very valuable benefit to complete).

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