Colfax VFW Auxiliary supports homeless female veterans

Final Salute helps women, children find housing and safety
By: Staff report
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Homelessness statistics

According to a study conducted in 2009 on Veteran Homelessness by HUD and the VA

*Women Veterans are more likely to be homeless than their male counterparts.

*Women Veterans are also four times more likely to be homeless when compared to female non-veterans in the U.S. and female non-veterans in the poverty population.

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It is estimated that there are currently 55,000 homeless women veterans in the United States. For the sacrifices they and their families have made, this is unacceptable according to Final Salute Inc. The organization believes in giving women veterans the proper respects due to them for the service they have provided to the country, while working with them to establish their own plan toward independence.

In April, the Colfax VFW Auxiliary 2003 was presented with a $500 check from Chicago Park resident and Dr. Kurtis Fox’s front office receptionist Bea Rolph. Rolph had previously been awarded the same amount for the Soroptimist “Ruby Award for Women Helping Women.”

“The VFW Auxiliary was honored and humbled to be awarded such a large amount of cash,” said Beth Murphy, of the VFW.

Murphy added that the Soroptimists primary purpose is to support projects that lift up and benefit women, and being the auxiliary of a national veterans’ organization, the group researched how to best put the funds to use.

“And we found the perfect program,” Murphy said.

Final Salute was founded by Jas Boothe in 2010. Boothe, a veteran and cancer survivor, became aware of the large number of homeless women veterans in the United States and decided to do something about it.

The organization is designed to meet and understand the unique needs of homeless women veterans and their children, especially in the areas of housing and other supportive services. Final Salute takes a three-pronged approach to addressing the issues associated with the homelessness of women veterans: Awareness, assistance and aspiration.

Awareness: Bringing attention to the rising issue of homelessness among women veterans and their needs. Assistance: Providing housing and supportive services to homeless women veterans and aiding in the prevention of homelessness. Aspiration: Giving hope to these women in troubling situations.

There are many factors that contribute to homelessness including unemployment, disabilities, domestic violence and substance abuse. On Dec. 23, 2011, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported, "More than 60 percent of surveyed Grant Per Diem programs that serve homeless women veterans did not house children, and most programs that did house children had restrictions on the ages or numbers of children.” The survey also found lack of housing for women with children as a significant barrier to accessing veteran housing. In addition, several noted there were financial disincentives for providers, as the VA does not have the authority to reimburse them for costs of housing veterans’ children. Limited housing for women and their children puts these families at risk of remaining homeless.

Final Salute’s H.O.M.E Program provides transitional housing, on-site case management, food, clothing, transportation, child care subsidy/assistance, employment support and other essential supportive services to homeless women veterans and their children. The program, one of many, focuses on integrating women veterans back into their local communities and providing vast, safe and suitable residential areas to choose from.