U.S. Navy vet Javonni Harper and her two children spent the past summer living out of their car. She’s recently found an apartment with the help of a non-profit, Community Hope. (Courtesy Javonni Harper/WNYC)
On Tuesday May 21, 2013, WNYC reported on the rising number of homeless female veterans in NJ.
The report states:
Homelessness among female veterans is on the rise in the United States, even as the overall rate of homelessness among veterans is going down.
Substance abuse and mental illness are often among the factors typically associated with homelessness. But neither of those applied to U.S. Navy veteran Javonni Harper. She and her two young children lived out of their car this past summer. Her struggles after leaving the Navy in 2008 included difficulty finding employment.
“It’s harder for us to get a job, it’s harder for us to get an apartment, because we have less money coming in, and our money has to stretch a lot farther than the average single vet, with no children, and no responsibilities,” she said.
By 2010, more than 30,000 single mothers had deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Department of Defense. And for many of these moms, finding a safe place for their children is the overriding objective.
Erica, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who asked that her last name not be used, knows these difficulties all too well. The high cost of living and the difficulty of finding steady work in New York led her to move, with her two children, back home with her mother in Bedford Stuyvesant.
Erica served for four years and deployed to Iraq in 2003. She’s been struggling with post-traumatic stress related to her service, as well as military sexual trauma. With more women on the battlefield, PTSD and MST have become big challenges for the military.
The Department of Veterans Affairs says it recognizes the unique problems female veterans face, and that it’s working to provide more housing and healthcare support. Erica is still trying to find a place of her own, with help from the Jericho Project.
“Being a female is just tough, period. Being a veteran female, it’s tough,” said Erica, who’s been trying to find a place of her own with the help of the non-profit, The Jericho Project. “I would say you have your guard up and you know, you just…don’t want to live just anywhere. Especially if you have kids.”