Headed for the Country: Women Veterans, Homelessness and Rural America

The Trend Seems to be Different for Male and Female Veterans

Women Veterans in Rural America May Be at Greater Risk for Homelessness Than Their Urban Counterparts. iStockPhoto.
Where women veterans live by location — urban and rural — in the U.S. The interactive #dataviz is here: http://bit.ly/HWVRural
  • Vermont
  • New Hampshire
  • Mississippi
  • West Virginia

Trend

Additionally, the number of women veterans who are homeless in rural areas is on the increase, while the number of male veterans who are homeless in those areas is declining. (The same trends are true of male and female veterans in urban areas, as you can see you see from the above graph.) Overall, women veterans seem more likely to experience homelessness in rural rather than urban areas, but this is a very broad observation — and much more research needs to be done.

General Diagnoses Associated with Healthcare Visits of Rural and Non-Rural Homeless Veterans, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
  • Sleeping in their vehicle
  • Staying in substandard housing, which is unsanitary or dangerous.
  1. Weather — extreme heat, rain, snow, cold — all can interrupt appointment schedules.
  2. Finances — having enough funds to travel to a lot of appointments takes a toll on limited income and there isn’t public transportation or VA or DAV assistance, and
  3. Lack of community services, non-profits, public assistance. Relying on neighbors and churches works for some, but most women vets are not treated the same as their male counterparts in the first place, and rural America is even more conservative about roles and “place,” whether we like it or not.

Policy implications

With a dearth of research into women veterans and homelessness, and the subset of women veterans choosing to live in rural America after service, we want to be aware of any additional difficulties and barriers to care (including social services) this trend may exacerbate.

Focused on using data as a tool in research & policy decisions. IWMF grantee. NASW-TX and Tableau Public award winner. UTSA, Harvard honors grad. Ph.D. student.

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