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Today is 09.27.2016

Homeless Female Vets A Challenge For Shelters | Fairfax , Virginia | Bend Bulletin

Four years ago, Veronica Witherspoon was stationed in Baghdad, enduring roiling sandstorms and near-daily rocket fire as she worked as a Navy petty officer at Camp Victory.

By January, she’d left the military, lost her job as a civilian contractor, split with her husband and ended up virtually homeless, bunking with family. Deeply ashamed and desperate for a way out, she ran across a story on a military website for a new program for female veterans called Final Salute.

The women-only shelter for veterans opened its doors in November in a quiet cul-de-sac in suburban Fairfax County, Va. The group home, the brainchild of an Army captain who was once homeless herself, is one of a small but growing number of women-only shelters that have opened up across the country in recent years to cater to a rising number of female veterans who have wound up on the streets after their military service.

In recent years, the Department of Veterans Affairs has made strides in its five-year campaign to end veteran homelessness.

Though the overall number of homeless veterans declined 12 percent between 2010 and 2011, the number of homeless female veterans is increasing, the VA said in a draft report this month, and these women are now the fastest-growing segment of the homeless veterans population.

“The increase of homeless women veterans is significant, and it does suggest that we have to address this as an emerging issue,” said John Driscoll, president and CEO of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.