Women comprise about 10 percent of the veteran population today, and are projected to make up about 16.3 percent by 2043. And while this population continues to grow rapidly, so does the need for proper health care and housing services. Kayla Williams, Director of the VA Center for Women Veterans discusses some of the challenges women veterans face today and how her organization is working to resolve them. Click here for part 1 of Women Vets.
Interview recorded Oct 11, 2017. Hosted by Robert Traynham.
Read a partial transcript of this interview below:
Robert T: Are there any type of unique programs that you had to change and or perhaps put maybe kind of put on the shelf, if you will, and or adapt because of the unique needs of women veterans?
Kayla W: One thing [00:04:00] that we’re still working with a lot of VA offices on, is just to capture data by gender.
Robert T: Yeah.
Kayla W: Because it’s not something they’re used to doing. So being able to assess how well various programs are doing at meeting the unique or disproportionate needs of women veterans, we can’t do that if we don’t know the stats. Another are where VA has made some tremendous progress is serving the needs of homeless women veterans. Traditionally, some of the programs for homeless veterans that most people think of are the grand and per diem programs that are [00:04:30] often best equipped to serve single men. And women veterans are more likely to have small children and veterans, male or female, who have families, aren’t necessarily as well served. So some of the newer programs, including HUD-VASH, and SSVF, for Support of Services for Veteran Families, they’re better designed to serve homeless veterans with families.
Robert T: You know Kayla I just had this complete ah-ha moment where I’ve heard of homeless veteran men, but you’re the [00:05:00] first person to mention to me a female homeless veteran. Is that a major problem in the community?
Kayla W: So the overall population of homeless veterans has been cut nearly in half over six years.
Robert T: Well that’s a good thing.
Kayla W: Which is a great story. Innovative efforts like housing first, and these great partnerships that we have with local communities and nonprofit organizations as well have made just such a tremendous difference. The number of homeless women veterans however is projected to continue to climb [00:05:30] for a few more years.
Robert T: Why is that?
Kayla W: It’s probably because the number of women veterans is climbing so fast.
Robert T: Oh, I see. Got it. So there’s a correlation.
Kayla W: So there is a correlation, and also trying to make sure that these women veterans who are struggling know that VA is here for them and that there are services that are designed to meet their needs. Getting them to come in the door and take advantage of the services and resources that are available to them, if they do need them. So I really want to encourage everyone to bear in mind that women are veterans, and encourage women to reach out to VA if they do need help. [00:06:00] We have a women veteran call center that’s staffed exclusively by women and is available to answer any questions, help women navigate the system, and get connected to the resources that they may need.
Robert T: And where-
Kayla W: It’s 877-VA-WOMEN.
Robert T: One more time.
Kayla W: 877-VA-WOMEN.
Robert T: You know, thank you very much for your time, Kayla. This has been very enlightening for me and I’m sure for our listeners at home or perhaps that are watching on their smart device. Really appreciate it.
Kayla W: I’m so glad that you had me on, thanks for taking the time.
Robert T: Have a good one now. And thank you for joining us as well. For more great conversations with leaders in your community, and across the nation visit [00:06:30] Comcastnewsmakers.com. I’m Robert Traynham.