The harsh reality of homeless veterans sometimes hits the news. That people should serve our country, give their all, be honorably discharged and then face living on the streets is a horror. Yet, the situation often grows even more dire for female veterans.
Jas Boothe learned this firsthand while she served in the United States Army. In 2005, home from having deployed during the Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom campaigns, Boothe was preparing for another tour when she lost everything in Hurricane Katrina. A month later she was diagnosed with aggressive head, neck and throat cancer and began fighting for her life. A single parent of a son, Boothe found herself homeless due to Katrina, unable to deploy due to cancer and facing discharge from her military job.
As she searched for help, Boothe found that the military had no programs for single female veterans with children. She was told she should look into welfare and social services like other single mothers. That the military bureaucracy would be so dismissive of the plight of female veterans who fought valiantly next to their brothers-in-arms dismayed her.
Fortunately for Boothe, she did beat cancer, found a place to live with her aunt in Missouri and received a job from the Army National Guard. Once recovered, in 2006, she returned to full-time duty in Washington, D.C., bringing with her a determination that female veterans facing similar circumstances never again would be turned away.
“Those women deserve better,” Boothe told Marie Claire in 2012. “They have fulfilled their commitments and honored their country by serving. And I am a soldier who made a commitment to never leaving a fallen comrade behind.”
In 2010, Boothe started Final Salute Inc., a nonprofit organization devoted to providing temporary housing for homeless female veterans. According to the organization, there are some 55,000 homeless female veterans on any given day.
These women face challenges their male counterparts don’t share.
In 2011, the Government Accountability Office reported that 60 percent of programs that serve homeless female veterans did not allow children. When females find housing, they’re sometimes placed in male-only approved buildings with inadequate safety measures, including lock-lacking bedrooms and bathrooms. One female veteran and her child reportedly were housed in the same facility as a male veteran who was a registered sex offender.
Final Salute provides temporary housing to female veterans who are honorably discharged and are willing to adhere to a two-year plan to gain independence. The Housing Outreach Mentorship Encouragement (H.O.M.E.) program provides housing, case management, transportation, employment support and other necessary aid for homeless female veterans, especially with children. They also provide financial education and help prevent homelessness by providing emergency financial support through their Savings Assessment and Financial Education (S.A.F.E.) program.
Additionally, they provide employment transition support.
So far Final Salute has provided over 10,000 days of transitional housing for female veterans and their children; they’ve helped over 1,700 women receive financial assistance, aided 500 veterans with employment transition support and housed 26 women and their 23 children.
According to Final Salute Inc., it takes only $25 a day to support female veterans. Would you consider donating to this wonderful cause?