While the war in Afghanistan continues, its draw down, the next phase of the military’s mission, involves rehabilitating the veterans returning home. Operation Rehabilitation is only just beginning.
According to the New York Times’ Patricia Leigh Brown, female vets are the demographic most affected by the transition into civilian life.
Of 141,000 veterans nationwide who spent at least one night in a shelter in 2011, nearly 10 percent were women, according to the latest figures available from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, up from 7.5 percent in 2009. In part, it is a reflection of the changing nature of the American military, where women now constitute 14 percent of active-duty forces and 18 percent of the Army National Guard and the Reserves.
In December 2011 the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report that found black female veterans are disproportionately affected by homelessness.
According to the report 45% of homeless veterans they identified were black women, 41% white, 7.6% Latinas, and 1.3% were API. The majority of those homeless are veterans who fought in the Persian Gulf Period or after (8/90-present)—including conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. — NYTimes.com
Brown's piece proceeds to detail the reasons for the accelerating rate of homelessness among female veterans.
Female veterans are far more likely to be single parents than men. Yet more than 60 percent of transitional housing programs receiving grants from the Department of Veterans Affairs did not accept children, or restricted their age and number, according to a 2011 report by the Government Accountability Office. — NYTimes.com
As late as 2007, veterans of our extensive conflicting during the Vietnam War represented 25% of the U.S.’ homeless rate. To put the growing number of women in active-duty into perspective, keep in mind that during 'Nam there were only 7,500 women in active-duty. Today, there are currently 200,000.
While the debate over admitting women into elite military units such as the Navy SEALs swirls, this is an issue that must be addressed. The military’s overseas conflict may be over, but it is now our nation's job to begin serving our servicemen and women at home.