LEFT BEHIND: The Truth About Homeless Female Veterans

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Women are among the homeless Vietnam Veterans in America.



Patty Weston with her two beloved pets.

Countless female veterans are suffering from homelessness, yet we hear very little about this. Unlike their male counterparts, this silent struggle makes it even more difficult to get the help they need. 

FEMALES ARE AMONG THE FASTEST GROWING SEGMENT OF THE HOMELESS VETERAN POPULATION

In an effort to combat the problem of veteran suicide,  President Trump signed an Executive Order on March 5, to empower them with better mental health care.  Homelessness is one of the reasons vets feel so hopeless about life; whether they’re just exiting the military, or years, even decades later—when homelessness happens, there’s a loss of hope, and this is the final emotion before one takes their life.  

ONE WOMAN’S PLIGHT TO RAISE AWARENESS 

Vietnam Era Veteran Patty Weston of Louisiana has recently admitted to her friends that she’s about to reach a tipping point: 

“It’s disheartening and scary that I may have to soon sleep in my car. I’m already living out of my suitcase, from pillar to post.  I’m a female who proudly served my country, living at poverty level in a wealthy parish with high rent, and a high tax rate. This has been my home for over 20 years.  Now is when life should be enjoyable.

I have no dependent children, and no disability.  I was never an alcoholic nor a drug abuser, and that actually makes it harder for me to get help; even the fact that I’m a veteran. I feel I’m being discriminated against.”

She has tried to get help, but Weston blames Washington’s ‘red tape’ bureaucracy for throwing a never-ending series of road blocks in her way. 

“I suffer from PTSD, due to a traumatic experience while in uniform,” she explains, admitting that the times she feels “totally helpless and with little hope” are increasingly frequent. 

This is a common occurrence for female veterans who have no home, she says. 

It infuriates Weston that the phrase “Leave No Veteran Behind” doesn’t seem to apply to women. 

“Are we considered less important than our male counterparts? How long must women wait before we, too, are recognized on a national and local level? It seems we’re invisible,” she observes. 

HOMELESSNESS IS A TRAGEDY OF STAGGERING PROPORTIONS

In 2008, the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program (VASH) was developed in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Known as HUD-VASH, the bureaucrats call it “an essential tool towards ending veteran homelessness.”

HUD provides housing choice vouchers, and the VA provides case management and outreach.

Weston points out that through the shifting of funds and cutbacks, the program is failing to meet the current crisis facing veterans.

In the meantime, the plight of illegal aliens garners all the press…and a shocking amount of taxpayer funding.

“Our government is pushing its own citizens aside!” Weston states, adding, “Foreign groups are welcomed into our country, and they’re met with free housing, food, education, transportation, entertainment, and health care. These are the same necessities of every American citizen who spends their lives working to provide for themselves and their families.

“Now we’re expected to support the illegal aliens as well?”

Weston has researched the price Americans pay to care for indigent illegal immigrants. “I understand the cost this year alone is $727,473,408, while the total number of illegal aliens is 187,720 and counting.

“That’s shocking! While we support them, there are male and female veterans sleeping in their cars or even on cement slabs. Is our well-being not as crucial?”

THE NATIONAL FEMALE VETERAN SUICIDE RATE SPIKED UP TO 85% IN RECENT YEARS

Weston points out that in her hometown, “Transitional living is reachable for the men who are waiting for permanent housing, they are also receiving education and job skills, but it’s difficult for women to even find temporary housing. Consequently, the women suffer even more. What about us? Are we considered less important?”

Homeless veterans—men and women—are wandering throughout the city streets of America. Their prevalence is proof that Congress is neglecting to care for our own citizens who fought for this great nation.

“How many brave men and women warriors cut their life short due to budget cuts, lack of hope and feelings of abandonment?” Weston points out.

CALL ON CONGRESS TO FUND PROGRAMS TO HELP HOMELESS VETERANS NOW

An urgent focus on this crisis includes:

  • Improved outreach methods with less red tape on national and local levels.
  • More community and faith-based involvement.
  • An immediate increase in funding to help ALL veterans, whether they were on the battlefield or behind a desk.
  • In order to meet the demand for housing, increase the number of vouchers and accelerate their distribution.

ALL AMERICANS NEED A PLACE TO CALL HOME

According to Weston, “Not only is temporary housing difficult to find, but permanent housing is as well; leaving the hands of our VASH coordinators tied, as we all wait for a voucher to ‘recycle’. Are there no ‘new’ vouchers?

“I’m prepared to sleep on the state capital steps or grounds if necessary to get our leaders focused on this issue!” she states, noting that the “crisis on the border” is a stark example of how Democrats favor illegal aliens over American citizens.

“I’m sharing my story to raise awareness of the crisis that exists at a time that our government has chosen to ignore its own citizens in favor of those who climb over, under and through our borders illegally,” says Weston. She adds, “To experience homelessness first-hand is extremely worrisome, frustrating, infuriating, and gives the sense of abandonment.“

©️Jill Cueni-Cohen