Those aren't statistics you're likely to read on the front page of your local newspaper, but they nonetheless speak to the challenging experiences of thousands of women soldiers returning home from our multiple wars. A weak economy has left them jobless; health issues and emotional traumas have left them vulnerable to drug abuse and feelings of alienation from society at large. As a result, the numbers of women vets who find themselves homeless, living in cars and on the streets, is decidedly on the rise.
As NPR reported this week, the US Department of Veterans Affairs has begun to address this demographic shift by targeting women, particularly those with children, for "priority funding." They're also strengthening their outreach efforts by deploying staffers to tour communities and encourage homeless women vets to take advantage of transitional housing programs the VA has set up to meet their specific needs.
But the government isn't doing this work alone. Community organizations are also playing a vital role in helping women find security after their service has ended.
Take Ms. Foundation grantee SWAN for example. SWAN (Service Women's Action Network) was established in 2007 to provide women vets with the resources and community support needed to heal their wounds and readjust to civilian life. Today, SWAN runs two peer-staffed helplines to address service women's diverse needs; offers free trainings, workshops and activities designed specifically for women veterans; and advocates for all military women, to increase their visibility and access to equal protection, opportunities and benefits.
Led by Anuradha Bhagwati -- who is a veteran herself -- SWAN is dealing firsthand with the challenges service women face, and helping to ensure that women vets are not forgotten once they're no longer in uniform. We're proud to count ourselves among the many supporters of their work.