13 Feb 2014

How 55.000 Female Veterans Ended Up On The Streets of the US

Homeless Heroes (2014): The returning heroes abandoned on the streets and left to adjust to civilian life without support.

They're heroes to many in the US, but after the jubilant homecoming parades for those returning from war, what happens next? Well, an estimated 55,000 veterans are now homeless; and that's just the women.

"In Iraq I was on suicide watch", explains Tracy Orona, a veteran of the Iraq war. Coming home she went from suicide watch to fending for herself. Without treatment her disturbing dreams, insomnia and inability to handle normal life drove her to drink two bottles of tequila a day and ruined her marriage. Her story reflects countless others of those living on the streets, in cars and on other people's couches. "They don't want to got to a shelter.

They want to be in a female veteran program. They need counseling", stresses Joe Leal from the organisation Vet Hunters. The most frightening aspect of this story is why they need counselling. As psychologist Dr Lori Katz explains, "The number one reason why female veterans are homeless is because of untreated sexual trauma." As many as three quarters of them say they were sexually assaulted in the military, leaving them unable to return to normal life and ultimately homeless. So why have they been forced to swap one battle abroad for another one in the country they served?

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