Women veterans are the fastest-growing demographic of homeless veterans in America today. Far from being a well-understood phenomenon, most people would be hard-pressed to even include women veterans in the overall picture of veteran homelessness — or recognize their unique risk factors and survival strategies. There’s no solid sense of even how many women veterans are homeless, because the choices they make when they are experiencing unstable housing, such as sleeping on couches at friends’ and family’s homes until their welcome runs out, leaves them generally out of the federal count of and excluded from public notice or the resources that they and often their dependent children with them need. The recent series in the Huffington Post aims to change that, by addressing their invisibility directly.
Huffington Post’s series is an effort to “change the narrative” about who becomes homeless, and moving it away from a subject of pity and concern to one of empathy with the survivors, who are remarkable women with important stories to tell.
Homeless women veterans are nothing like their male veteran counterparts in how and why they experience homelessness — so in intervening effectively and providing much-needed services, the “old model” of who homeless veterans are needs to be tossed out and replaced with a much more inclusive model that addresses women veterans as unique. There are more than 2 million women veterans alive today in the U.S., and a portion of them will need our greater awareness of the very normality of their struggle with unstable housing, and the creation and delivery of resources that actually meet their needs, starting with trauma-informed outreach and housing options.
Population of Focus: Women Veterans, homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless
Links to Huffington Post Series:
- Read more of this article about the series- No Longer Invisible: Women Veterans and Homelessness after Military Service
- GI Jane Needs a Place to Sleep: How women veterans are habitually missed in the federal count of how many homeless veterans there are
- Into the Gap: Women Veterans Describe Homelessness: How the federal definition for homelessness has recently been changed, in a way that disproportionately excludes women veterans
- Camaraderie Offsets Trauma in Woman Veterans: How military sexual trauma [MST] is a prevalent an experience for women veterans, and how it has been directly linked to experience of homelessness after military service. To offset that, a bright light: The camaraderie that women veterans feel when they come together and work as a team, like they did in the service. It seems to mitigate the hardship somehow, and it’s encouraging
- The Path Home for Women Veterans: What the path forward looks like, including a look at some original, IRB-approved research done by the author, which appears to show that the stereotypical male model for veteran homelessness does not and will not accommodate the experiences of women veterans who become homeless today
- Homeless Women Veterans Struggle to be Seen: How women veterans who are homeless describe themselves and their situations as ‘invisible,’ but then mention how that feeling started much earlier, when they were still serving
- Down for the Count: Women Veterans Likely Underestimated in Federal Homelessness Figures: How the federal estimate of how many women veterans are homeless is so low as to be useless for capturing the real scope of this problem, and better ways to calculate a working estimate, including looks at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) published research, and original research by the author
- Homeless Women Veterans Are Veterans with an Important Difference: A recap of recent research on veteran homelessness that has come out since the series was published
- Don’t Leave Fido Behind: Homelessness Impacts Women Veterans and Their Pets. Women veterans can value their companion animals enough for it to be an actual barrier to seeking housing when they’re at risk for homelessness.
Additional resources from the Huffington Post project:
- WomensVeteransHousing.com – A brand-new website of state-specific housing resources to help women veterans avert homelessness. The website also allows for crowd-sourcing of resources.
- A data visualization showing the comments of 400 women veterans from every service branch, era, geographical area of the U.S., etc. about what their experiences of unstable housing and homelessness were like.
- An interactive timeline, using Knight Foundation tools, to convey “how we got to this point.”
- How many women veterans are likely to be homeless in the United States, based on VA calculations and mapped against the population of women veterans in the U.S. and women veterans in poverty
- The extent of VA “Grant and Per Diem” programs available for women and/or women with children, mapped against the population of women veterans, state by state in the U.S., showing how very few resources are actually available, as the population of women veterans continues to climb.