Invisible Women: The Number Of Homeless Female Veterans Outpaces Help | Fayetteville, North Carolina | Fay Observer
For a week in July, Mariel Marrero and her two children visited the Cumberland County Headquarters Library every day.
Between 7:45 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Marrero, 30, and her children – ages 10 and 12 – sought out the library not for its books, but for its air conditioning. Their only alternative, Marrero said, was to stay in parks in nearly 100-degree heat.
At night, Marrero and her children slept at the Salvation Army shelter on Alexander Street.
“You always hear about the men,” Marrero said of homeless veterans. “But we’re out there, too. People just don’t see us.”
Marrero is one of about 90 female veterans who are homeless in the Fayetteville area, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
She’s also part of a growing trend.
Each year, the percentage of female veterans increases. Rising, too, is the percentage of women in the homeless veteran population.
Years ago, homeless veterans were almost exclusively men. But with new wars and a changing Army, young women in their mid-20s to early 30s are encompassing a larger part of the homeless population, especially in Fayetteville.
While other VA offices say women account for about 6 percent of their homeless veteran populations, that number triples to 18 percent in Fayetteville, said Stephanie Felder, the Fayetteville VA’s homeless program coordinator.
“The problem is extensive,” Felder said. “It’s a national problem.”
Felder said the Fayetteville VA serves about 504 homeless veterans – about 90 of those being women – although she concedes that the VA’s numbers don’t show the whole problem.
Some homeless veterans, for whatever reason, do not seek help, she said, and those veterans go uncounted.
via Fay Observer