In 2009, The U.S. Department of Labor held a series of 28 so called “listening sessions”. The goal was to find out why not only are women veterans twice as likely as civilian women to become homeless, but why there are there were increasing numbers of homeless women veterans.
And here are the predominant reasons that given in 2009. These are still the predominant reasons, but little has been done to actually grant benefits, and to implement programs that would ease homelessness for any veterans, let alone the 8 percent of the nation’s 23 million strong military force who happen to be women.
Returning veterans enter into unemployment from lack of job skills, or they have military skills that will not translate to civilian employment. Add these issues to the common and basic job loss that many civilians have suffered. Add insult to injury by having an active duty military and Veteran’s Administration that completely failed to coordinate with civilian agencies and employers to develop post military programs for gaining broader and more marketable job skills.
Lack of earned Veterans benefits happens either because the women could not navigate the benefits claims system, have less than honorable discharges, or because they are not not eligible. This leads to instant and long term poverty when the veteran is unable to work because of service connected disability, a rotted job market, and other transition issues.
Post military legal troubles including criminal prosecutions and probation. No one has bothered to find out how many returning veterans, let alone women veterans, are in the criminal justice system.
Mental health issues either related to their military service (PTSD and Sexual trauma) or from other sources. Women veterans are twice as likely to commit suicide than their civilian counterparts, according to NPR.
Disabilities obviously cause an inability to do substantial and gainful work on a temporary or permanent basis, leading to long term and chronic poverty.
Divorce, separation and/or domestic violence is higher in all veterans, given the higher rates of PTSD and the rigors of military life.
Substance abuse is, one way or another, a problem for all these days, but the consequences are far worse for the active duty soldier or returning veteran, especially with a less than honorable discharge.
Lack of family presence or family support is a major problem for homeless women veterans, especially when PTSD, inability to adjust to family or civilian life, and other interpersonal issues arise.