Archive for November, 2010

Generations United

Juan Williams

Juam Williams

On Nov. 15, I was fortunate to participate, along with many of my Volunteers of America colleagues, in the launch of a new Harris Interactive poll commissioned by Generations United that reveals broad support for social programs that serve people from a variety of different generations together – as opposed to separate programs specific to teens, older people, etc. Among the findings I found interesting, more than 80 percent of respondents agreed that politicians often pit one generation against another in order to limit support for government funding for programs like child care, healthcare or Social Security. Juan Williams from FOX News joined in as moderator for the discussion.

You can read the full findings of the poll here.

Generations United is a great organization focused on improving the lives of children, youth and older people through intergenerational programs and public policies. They’ve been a great partner to Volunteers of America and are doing some important work that will benefit the people we serve no matter what their age.

– By David Burch, Director, Communications

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Don’t Forget About the Women Veterans

Montgomery Meigs makes some important points about our failures to help returning service members (“Helping veterans reconnect with home,” Nov. 13), but he barely touches on one of the most rapidly growing problems – the unmet needs of women veterans.

Help for troubled veterans remains largely male-focused, despite women representing 12 percent of those fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Women face the same problems of post-traumatic stress, healthcare and homelessness. But they also experience unique issues like sexual trauma and domestic abuse their male counterparts do not. Additionally, they are more likely to have children under their care whose needs must be met, too.

Too often, our society ignores or is simply ignorant of the challenges all veterans face when returning home … but especially women. We must wake up to these needs and tailor more programs to their specific needs.

– By Mike King, National President and CEO, Volunteers of America

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Since World War II, Volunteers of America has been a leader in providing shelter and other help to homeless veterans. Those needs are greater now than ever before. The growing ranks of homeless veterans reflect the changing face of the military, including a rapidly growing new group — women.

For too long, our society has ignored the needs of women veterans returning home from the military. Unfortunately, many of these women end up homeless. Women account for 12 percent of those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, far more than in any past conflict. As of last year, there were approximately 8,000 homeless women veterans; that number is expected to increase as more women return home. At Volunteers of America, we know all too well that homeless women face issues their male counterparts do not, including domestic violence and sexual assault. In addition, many of these women are mothers whose children are deeply affected by their homelessness and require services of their own.

Homeless veterans programs historically have focused on men and have frequently failed to address the unique needs of women, including the fact that they are more frequently accompanied by their children. Many suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms resulting from assault and harassment by their male comrades, which in the past has made turning to the male-dominated Veterans Administration feel much like entering the lion’s den in search of help.

Volunteers of America has made it a top priority to collaborate with legislators and other social service providers to address this national disgrace. We’ve established programs across the country to help homeless veterans get back on their feet and we’ve worked with Congress to secure funding to make sure our nation’s heroes are not forgotten.

The time to act is now. We must make the plight of homeless veterans a top priority, and wake up to the unique and growing needs of women, mothers and daughters leaving the military today. Winning this battle will require a coalition of service organizations partnered with the military and government agencies to help all returning veterans, both men and women, establish successful lives back home.

Last year, the Veterans’ Administration pledged to eradicate homelessness among veterans in five years. This commitment, which includes billions of dollars of funding, has significantly changed the landscape of services. This level of support is revolutionary. We must use this funding to tailor more programs to the specific needs of women, and quickly. Otherwise, women veterans will remain faceless among our homeless population and will not find the help they need and deserve.

– By Mike King, President and CEO, Volunteers of America

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