The New York Times reports (yes, actually reports, which means talking to actual people involved) on the rising number of homeless female veterans. With women making up 14 percent of active duty military and 18 percent of the National Guard and Reserves, their numbers on the street are on the rise, as well. In an unwelcome statistic, women – and often their children – last year made up to ten percent of the 141,000 homeless veterans, a rise from 7.5 percent in 2009. The jump in homelessness among female veterans is a result of the usual suspects – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, un- and under-employment, and disabilities – coupled with two additional burdens. According to the Times reporting, of the more than two dozen homeless female veterans interviewed, 16 admitted to sexual assault while in the service, often never reported. Homeless women vets were also more likely to be carting their children with them, even as barracks-style homeless veterans quarters turn away children.
Not to let facts (or reporting) stand in the way of a good opinion, hours after the NYT story on female veteran homelessness hit the net, The National Review’s Heather MacDonald wanted to ensure that the blame for sexual assault and homelessness fell where it belonged – squarely on the shoulders of the women. Mac Donald opens her story with the snarky, “So now there’s a name and, inevitably, an acronym for military-sexual-trauma syndrome or MST [sic].” She eventually weaves in “a tough-as-nails, pro-police building superintendent in the Bronx who was raped three times, including by her mother’s boyfriend as a child” who nevertheless wasn’t wimpy enough to end up on the streets, in need counseling or asking for disability benefits. Which proves, of course, that women don’t belong in the military in the first place because being brutalized and betrayed by your team is way less traumatizing than “stranger rape.”
Finally, NYT reporter Patricia Leigh Brown follows Vet Hunters Project founder Joe Leal as he and fellow veterans hit dark allies, homeless camps and other of “America’s forgotten places” tracking down homeless veterans. “You know the expression ‘never leave the fallen behind’?” Leal tells Brown, “Homelessness is the equivalent of leaving a buddy on the battlefield. They’re heroes in the shadows.”
What do you think about this issue? Please share your comments below.
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