The percentage of women serving our country – and joining our Veteran population – never has been higher. And it’s no coincidence our military never has been stronger. Today, women comprise roughly 10% of the total Veteran population. Unfortunately, women Veterans also account for 10% of the Veterans in America experiencing homelessness.
We can honor the achievements and sacrifices of our nation’s female heroes by ensuring no woman Veteran is without a home in the country she served.
This Women’s History Month, take time to learn about the risk factors and circumstances that contribute to more than 3,000 women Veterans experiencing homelessness in America on any given night, and learn what you can do to help reduce this number.
10 risk factors of homelessness unique to women Veterans
- Women Veterans are more likely to experience homelessness alongside dependents such as their children, while male Veterans usually experience homelessness as individuals.
- As caretakers, women Veterans may have a hard time asking for help.
- A lack of childcare is cited frequently by women Veterans as a barrier to maintaining employment, and consequently, housing.
- Women Veterans are more than twice as likely to experience homelessness than women who have not served in the military.
- Women Veterans often stay in vehicles, on a friend’s couch, or remain in a violent relationship to avoid homelessness. As such, it can be difficult to identify women who may be in need of services.
- More than 50% of women Veterans experiencing homelessness have a history of military sexual trauma (MST).
- Poverty rates are highest for Black (12.5%), Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander (11.8%), Hispanic (11.5%), and American Indian/Alaska Native (11.4%) women Veterans.
- Unemployed, unmarried and disabled women Veterans face greater risks of homelessness.
- Among women Veterans, those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, substance use disorders and recent suicide attempts are more likely to experience homelessness.
- 1-2% of all women Veterans and 15% of women Veterans living in poverty will experience homelessness in a one-year period.
By becoming aware of the challenges women Veterans face, we are better equipped to recognize when additional support may be needed. If you are – or know – a woman Veteran at risk for experiencing homelessness, please use the VA resources listed below.
Additionally, you can find a Women Veterans program manager at each VA Medical Center across the country who is ready and able to help coordinate any service that women Veterans may need.
Over two million women Veterans living in our nation today took an oath to defend and protect our country. It’s our turn to do the same.
VA resources for women Veterans
- Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program (SSVF) – SSVF awards grants to private nonprofit organizations and consumer cooperatives who provide supportive services to very low-income Veterans and their families residing in or transitioning to permanent housing.
- Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) – HUD-VASH is a collaborative program which pairs HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) rental assistance with VA case management and supportive services for homeless Veterans. These services help homeless Veterans and their families find and sustain permanent housing and access the health care, mental health treatment, substance use counseling, and other supports necessary to help them in their recovery process and with their ability to maintain housing in the community.
- Women Veterans Health Care Program – By focusing on primary care, reproductive health, and other health issues unique to women, VA seeks to provide the care that helps keep our women Veterans healthy and in a position to live fruitful lives.
- VA Mental Health for Women Veterans – VA recognizes that women Veterans experience their military service in different ways than men and also deal with unique mental health conditions. Because of this, VA provides specialized services to help women work through conditions such as PTSD or Military Sexual Trauma.
- Center for Women Veterans – Since 1994, the Center for Women Veterans has monitored and coordinated VA benefits, programs and services for women Veterans.
- Women Veterans Call Center – Call 1-885-VA-WOMEN (855-829-6636) for answers to questions about VA services and resources.
- White Ribbon VA is a national call to action to eliminate sexual harassment, sexual assault and domestic violence across VA by promoting a positive change in culture so that the actions outlined in the pledge become the organizational norm.
For more stories like these, visit the HPO website and subscribe to the Homeless Programs Office newsletter to receive monthly updates about programs and supportive services for Veterans experiencing or at risk of homelessness.