Exploitation of Female Veterans

The New York Times recently ran a series, “Women at Arms,” about women moving past (congressionally mandated) combat exclusions and being very much in the fight.

This certainly is not news (well, maybe it is to The New York Times). But combat barriers to women are alive and well, though probably more for political vice practical reasons.

The series provoked many letters, some having nothing to do with the series itself. The articles were used as a launching pad for other tangential issues.

One letter by Maria Cuomo Cole, chairwoman of HELP USA, notes that roughly 4,000 female veterans are homeless. She writes of the challenges faced by women veterans:

Marginal living conditions, scarce employment opportunities and post-traumatic stress syndrome and other injuries … family reunification and experiences of sexual abuse and rape during their service …

We are reasonably sure her 4,000 figure is coming from the same source as the overall homes veteran tally – from the intake questions at the shelters themselves. Even some at the Department of Veterans Affairs have admitted the numbers may not be the most accurate, though others say spot checks confirm their veracity.

Let’s say the official VA estimate of 131,000 homeless vets is true; a tally of 4,000 females is just 3 percent of the total, well below the percentage of women serving. (The smallest service number is the 6 percent the Marine Corps has so graciously permitted.)

Cuomo Cole’s list of challenges is not unique to this crew. Dare we surmise earlier waves experienced uber abuse, resulting in numerous challenges not the least of which has been post traumatic stress (PTSD is not just a combat affliction.) and difficulties connecting with society. But the earlier groups, despite efforts to seek assistance, often mystified doctors and VA professionals.
But we digress (like Cuomo Cole) …

Cuomo Cole touches on the heart-wrenching underbelly of homelessness – homeless women with children, and juxtaposes it with women in combat. The reader may be horrified. Sadly, her information is misleading and overstated. Are the homeless combat heroes? Probably not, but if fighting homelessness is your thing, it should not matter.

Is it not ironic that Cuomo Cole and others exploit female veterans to further their championed cause? We have too much experience with exploitation.

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