Press release from Aura Home:
This year 223 women graduated West Point, a record worthy of mentioning as women are signing up to serve our country in record numbers. Yet homeless women veterans are one of the fastest-growing populations in the US, according to the VA. North Carolina had the 6th largest female veteran population in 2013 and has grown considerably in the last 5 years. The number of female veterans treated at the VA almost tripled between 2000 and 2015. The number is staggering, and as a result, the VA experienced difficulty meeting the clinical needs of female veterans at all of their facilities.
When women raise their right hands and swear to support and defend the Constitution, they understand it could mean sacrificing their lives. Unfortunately the sacrifices they make are not always recognized or acknowledged, and women have to work harder to reconcile their societal role as caregivers, mothers and wives.
Recognition of women serving our country has been diminished throughout history, and the issue of female veteran homelessness is overlooked and understudied. A lot of women have lost everything, including all sense of hope, with little to look forward to. Homeless women veterans don’t fit the stereotype of your normal homeless person living on the streets. Female homeless veterans often have children and tend to temporarily stay with family or friends. Just as homeless male veterans often don’t seek help because they were instilled with a sense of self-reliance and pride while in the military, female homeless veterans are also often caregivers for their children and have a difficult time asking for help.
According to VA’s National Center for MST (Military Sexual Trauma) and PTSD, data from VA’s military sexual trauma screening program show that about 1 in 4 women and 1 in 100 men respond “yes,” they experienced sexual trauma or assault while in the military. Without proper protocol, 13,000 claims were denied over an 18 month period, affecting their future — including several vets living right here in Buncombe County. Without resources like AuraHome, vets are helpless and lost in a world without education to get what is rightfully theirs.
The greatest need is with single adults, and the percentages have been increasing with women. All our vets deserve special attention, as they have selflessly served our country and we haven’t done enough to take care of them. They shouldn’t end up on the street.
Women veterans absolutely require a different approach of outreach and support than their male counterparts.
Women face a number of unique barriers when accessing services, and some have had their disability benefits taken away, like our very own Alyce Knaflich, who served in the US Army for 19.5 years. Five years after her military discharge, she lost her job and was diagnosed with PTSD. At age 41, the VA Medical Center declared her unfit to work. Without income, Alyce became destitute and remained homeless for nearly 10 years while struggling with her health concerns, as well as a place to sleep. Alyce finally saw light at the end of the tunnel when she reached 100% service connected disability and received alternative health care, only to have to pay back benefits after an unjust audit with no forewarning. This only spiked this warrior’s passion, and instead of caving in, like the fighter she is Alyce found a solution not only for herself, but other women vets, and Aura Home was born in Hendersonville.
Today AuraHome is there not only to help herself, but all Veterans suffering from an unjust administration to get the help and care they need. Knaflich estimates Aura Home has helped nearly over 324 women veterans, 52 children, 143 men, 11 adult dependent on their family and 3 transgender women. Assistance has been provided in all areas with rent, car payments, repairs, insurance, finding available resources, education, furniture to those able to move into their own homes and landlords willing to take them in. Whether they are couch surfing or staying in a shelter, Knaflich estimates there are now around 310 homeless women veterans spread between Buncombe, Henderson and Haywood counties after reviewing the numbers from the state.
AuraHome is now a not-for-profit Shelter and assists all veterans in Buncombe, Henderson and Haywood counties. “We’ve had tremendous much needed support from the community here “ she said. “I have the strength to defy the odds which is what I did. Together we defied all the odds and will continue to do so strengthening our community, one vet at a time.”
Reserve your spot at our Full Moon picnic with the return of local celebrity Kat Williams, Big Al and Linda Mitchell to benefit Aura House on June 14, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., at the Historic Patton Parker House at 95 Charlotte Street, Asheville, NC 28801, sponsored by the Omni Grove Park Inn. There is also a raffle for a foursome golf outing at their beautiful golf course. For tickets, visit AuraHomeWomenVets.Org. $20 in advance, $25 at the door or make a contribution to make a difference on their website. God Bless America!
For more information, contact Tricia Rother at 631-375-5714 or firstname.lastname@example.org.