As noted in DAV’s landmark report “Women Veterans: The Long Journey Home,” women veterans are more likely to be divorced, more likely to be single parents and more likely to be unemployed than their male counterparts after they have left military service.
Couple these factors with the estimated 200,000 women veterans who are expected to leave the service by 2020, compound them with the serious gaps that exist in VA health care and support programs for women, and you have a high number of American servicewomen facing potential family crises during and after their transition from the military.
Fortunately, The Comitis Crisis Center in Aurora, Colo., provides free housing and funding to women veterans and their families through the VA’s Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program. The program funds community agencies like Comitis in order to help homeless veterans achieve residential stability, increase their skills and income, and obtain greater self-determination.
But per diem from the VA only goes so far in covering the cost of a veteran’s stay, which can be up to two years. Comitis must provide additional funding to ensure that veterans and their families are kept together and stably housed in the facility’s 139 beds.
Enter DAV’s Charitable Service Trust (Trust), which awarded Comitis a $30,000 grant earlier this year to supplement the crisis center’s efforts to provide women veterans and their families refuge from the streets. Funds from the Trust also helped provide personal hygiene items such as toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, diapers, toilet paper and undergarments.
“A part of the grant that DAV provided is really helping us look at the treatment side,” said James Gillespie, director of development at Comitis.“When you look at a veteran who needs treatment instantaneously, we can say, ‘Hey, we have the funds— thanks to DAV—to be able to address this need with the urgency and attention it requires.’”
Beyond housing, Comitis provides substance-abuse treatment and mental health services that address posttraumatic stress disorder, anger management and family reunification.
“This funding is critical,” said Gillespie. “We cannot maintain this program without funders such as DAV.”
“The Trust is honored to assist organizations like The Comitis Crisis Center that provide support to our nation’s heroes and ensure their families stick together,” said Trust President Richard E. Marbes.
“Supporting women veterans and eradicating veteran homelessness are major issues for our organization,” said DAV National Adjutant Marc Burgess. “DAV is proud to stand by organizations like Comitis that unite the two causes and empower veterans and their families to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity.”