Opportunity Place - Site of the Worksource Program
Over 125,000 veterans and their families live in King County in Washington State. Like veterans across the United States, many experience challenges in making the transition to civilian life, and especially to civilian employment. These difficulties are especially acute for recent veterans and for women: nationally, veterans who have served since September, 2001 are unemployed at higher rates than non-veterans or older veterans, and the unemployment rate for female vets is higher than it is for males. Our homeless population still includes many Vietnam-era veterans who struggle with mental illness and chemical dependency. And the family members of all these veterans are often affected emotionally and economically by the hardships their loved ones undergo.
In May 2011, the YWCA Middle Rio Grande in Albuquerque, New Mexico started Henderson House, which is a transitional housing program for women veterans and their children who are experiencing homelessness. Henderson House, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), foundations, companies and individuals, can serve 10 women and their children at any given time. The program is designed so that 80% will go on to permanent housing within 1 year and then other women will take their place. Our experience with Henderson House has shown that women veterans and their children can succeed when they have a safe, affordable housing and the supports and services they need to maintain that housing.
A core mission of the YWCA is “empowering women,” and helping them to reach their fullest potential. In this regard, I read with interest that the YWCA has been engaged with military families for more than a century…co-founding the USO…establishing Hostess House for service men and women…promoting Liberty Bonds during WW1…training women to fill the jobs of enlisted men…and supporting military and veteran women through the most recent conflicts.