“I wasn’t a loser,” Misha McLamb told the Associated Press earlier this year. Far from being a loser, the Navy aircraft specialist and mother of one served her country overseas before returning to the US and finding herself homeless.
“Everybody who’s homeless doesn’t necessarily have to have something very mentally wrong with them,” she said. “Some people just have bad circumstances with no resources.”
McLamb is one of 1.8 million women veterans who are experiencing homelessness, a number that has been on the rise, despite an Obama administration goal of ending veterans’ homelessness by 2015. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) says that there are specific risk factors for homelessness among women veterans, including:
- combat and sexual trauma,
- lack of affordable housing, and
- limited child care support.
Those factors are compounded by the fact that, according to The Washington Post, one-in-five female veterans is unemployed.
An estimated 33,000 women veterans live in our community. For me, it’s horrifying to think that any of these women who served our country are now sleeping on its streets. This Veterans Day, so many people will pay lip service to these heroes and their sacrifices. While “thank you” is nice, it’s just not enough. It’s time to honor veterans by providing them with everything they fought for: security, access to resources for all, and community.
The VA is reaching out to women service members with the Prevent and Eliminate Veteran Homelessness campaign. Through a variety of services including housing, job training, and medical and health, the VA is working to eliminate homelessness among all veterans. If you are or know of a woman veteran who is experiencing homelessness, please reach out to the VA at (877)4AID-VET or go to va.gov/homeless.