Letter: Don’t forget the women vets

REMEMBERING: Alyce Knaflich, director of Aura Home Women Vets, front row at left, with local recipients of Quilts of Valor, a nationwide effort to give service members and veterans thank-you quilts, on Veterans Day last year. Photo courtesy of Aura Home Women Vets

Imagine that you are a graduating high school girl with no chance at further schooling or a decent career, and a smartly dressed recruitment officer offers you a great career, travel and a chance to let Uncle Sam pay for your higher degree. This officer also tells you that once you are in the service, the Veterans Affairs organization will take care of you for life. Sounds pretty good, no?

Fast forward 10, 20 or 30 years, and now you are out of the service and suddenly there is no one to tell you how to live, how to buy groceries, how to buy a car, how to budget. Add to that the fact that you have witnessed your teammates being blown up, children suffering, and you having recurring nightmares from PTSD or MST (military sexual trauma). You may be injured physically or mentally. Your family and friends expect you to fit right back in to “normal life.” When you try to get counseling at the VA (if you are lucky enough to have one near), they tell you there is a two-month wait. Your life can cascade pretty quickly into homelessness, depression and suicide.

Currently in the entire state of North Carolina, there is not one VA-provided bed/residence for homeless women vets. It is estimated that there are over 6,000 homeless women veterans in this state, yet the VA only has official housing for male vets. If you have no permanent address, you can’t apply for housing aid, food stamps or veteran benefits. You can’t eat a healthy diet because you have no way to cook fresh food. You may even lose your car for lack of registration or insurance, limiting you even more.

Aura Home Women Vets is helping homeless women veterans in Western North Carolina and many adjacent states. They can help with rental deposits, connecting women with available resources and have transitional housing to help women get back on their feet. Director Alyce Knaflich, herself a formerly homeless Army veteran, also takes time with each client to help them survive the VA maze to receive their due, including health, housing and educational benefits. Aura Home Women Vets has replaced dangerous floors, provided food and clothing and even replaced a veteran’s furnace.

Since its inception in 2014, Aura Home Women Vets has helped over 180 women veterans of all ages. Aura Home Women Vets has received calls from Greyhound stations, interstate truck stops and even the VA. Currently, Aura Home Women Vets is raising funds to turn a former nursing home into a 12-bedroom transitional housing center with counselors and educational and basic skills programs.

To learn more about the needs of women veterans in Western North Carolina, you can contact Aura Home Women Vets at aurahomewv@gmail.com or view the webpage at aurahomewomenvets.org.

Aura Home Women Vets is happy to provide speakers for your group to bring awareness of the plight of our women veterans right here in Western North Carolina. Most importantly, please do not forget our sisters who are veterans in need. Don’t forget the women vets.

— Betty Sharpless


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16 thoughts on “Letter: Don’t forget the women vets

  1. Jay

    As a veteran; it’s appalling that we’ve segregated ourselves… why cant a vet just be a vet. In the NAVY we learned that that there are no whites, blacks, hispanics… we were ALL blue (navy blue).
    End homelessness for All VETS… not just woman vets; not just men vets or black vets… or Vietnam VETS
    ALL VETS!!!!!

    • Big Al

      It is NOT self-segregation, it is mere economic reality.

      Veterans are CIVILIANS, and the sad truth is that in the civilian world, women still get paid (at best) $.85 for every dollar a man gets paid.

      So being a homeless woman veteran IS harder, and there IS more need for assistance.

      • Jay

        that’s a pathetic comparison; unless you are INCORRECTLY suggesting that women VETS are 15% less likely to attain Veterans benefits….. WHICH hopefully u arent

        • Phillip C Williams

          Correct – VA compensation and pension benefits are the same for all veterans, regardless of age, sex or military rank/grade. VA pensions are available to any honorably discharged wartime veteran over 65 years old, or if they are under 65 and completely disabled due to non-service connected injury or illness. Widows of wartime veterans are also eligible for pension benefit – however, the pension is a small amount and is affected by other income, retirement, etc.

          Service-connected compensation benefits are awarded in increments of 0% to 100%, with additional amounts that can be awarded due to the veteran and/or spouse who is housebound or requires aid and attendance. The percentages are the same for all recipients – once a veteran reaches 30%, however, he or she can draw additional money based on number of dependents. And at 50%, VA healthcare benefits are provided at no cost regardless of whether an illness or injury is service-connected. For 0-40%, treatment and medicine is free for service-connected issues and a copay is charged for non-service connected issues.

        • Big Al

          I was not referring to veterans benefits at all. I was referring to wages in the civilian economy.

          Women may have been paid the same as men during their military service, and may receive equal veterans benefits afterwards, but in their post-military employment, women make 85% (or LESS) of their male counterparts’ wages, which means they have greater need of assistance.

          This is NOT segregation, as these women did not ASK to make less money than men.

  2. Enlightened Enigma

    Compelling problem that has received little attention…Please remember this new organization with your holiday donations!

  3. Lou

    Honestly I have never understood why we worship anyone who willingly kills and destroys for the business of war. It’s sick.

    • Phillip C Williams

      You make a terrible presumption – and I am guessing you have a lot to learn – unless you are one of those folks who figures you know all you need to know about everything.

      Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day are not about “worshiping” anything. They are about recognizing and honoring sacrifices made by better men and woman than ourselves. I have never known any Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine or Coast Guardsman – male or female – who killed or destroyed because they wanted to – in fact, most of the ones who actually did any killing were scarred for life by their experiences.

      Unless, of course, you figure that the Nazis and other evil types should have been allowed complete freedom to do as they pleased.

      • Lou

        Nazis and evil types ARE doing as they please…in Washington DC. War is wrong…PERIOD.

        • Phillip C Williams

          Wow – I am not sure how I can respond to such measured, considered and objective logic. I can only suggest that you might read up on what qualifies as a genuine Nazi.

          Also, you might ask the folks who inhabited concentration camps like Dachau, Bergen-Belsen, and Buchenwald who were liberated by allied Soldiers – who made war on the Nazis – what they thought of a war made against those who persecuted and imprisoned them.

    • tom

      WOW! such a brave and insightful comment. Although; Allow me to chime in. We are indoctrinated at a very young age to believe WE (USA) are the best and protectors of freedom Lets CALL THIS BS) . So the government purposefully recruits/drafts young people from lower middle class socioeconomics who are a “market” of people believe this BS…. We think we are doing a civic duty to serve and protect, but in reality we are nothing more than corporate mercenaries. The realities of this are well detailed in the book War is a Racket by none other that the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. During his 34-year career as a Marine Major General Smedley Butler who was awarded 2 METAL OF HONORS. Butler discusses how business interests commercially benefit, such as war profiteering from warfare.

      • Phillip C Williams

        Would have been interesting to have got MG Butler’s take on World War Two, as he died before the United States became involved. His book was written in the 1930’s – after the Great War – when many, many people around the world had either experienced the insanity of that conflict firsthand in the trenches or had lost someone to it.

        That war changed views of military and political leaders as well as regular citizens, and it is hard to fault them. However, the desperate desire to avoid another such war caused the world to turn a blind eye to the rise of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan – and helped to directly bring about World War Two.

        Butler’s two Medals of Honor were awarded for his actions in relatively small engagements in Mexico and Haiti before the US got involved in WWI…he also received the Marine Corps Brevet Medal for bravery during the Boxer Rebellion – and was promoted to Captain before he was 20 years old.

        • Lulz

          All one needs to do is read up on how protesting vets were treated during that era.

          As far as fighting for MY freedom or.others, that’s a joke. Their employer regularly spies, imprisons, and steals from citizens. We even have talk of gun confiscation and criminalizing people for owning them. Katrina is a prime example of using the.police and military to disarm. And I have no doubt in my mind the military will be killimg Americans down the road. Especially as sociopathic politicians use them as tools to further their agendas.

          • Phillip C Williams

            Mr. or Mrs. Lulz, I think you are referring to “the Battle of Anacostia Flats” – when President Hoover ordered General Douglas MacArthur to evict the “Bonus Army” from their shantytown in a swampy area near the Federal district. MacArthur, acting against the advice of his aides (one of whom was Major Dwight Eisenhower), ordered Infantry, horse cavalry and tanks to disperse the marchers with bayonets and tear gas, and to raze their camp. 55 veterans were injured. One pregnant lady miscarried and an infant died of enteritis that “wasn’t helped” by the tear gas. Two veterans who attempted to reoccupy the camp were shot by police and died later from their wounds.

            Senator Hiram Bingham (R) of Connecticut (also Governor of Connecticut, a World War One veteran, aviator, archaeological scholar and discoverer of Machu Picchu) , panama hat, palm beach suit and all, was trampled into the mud by a cavalryman. The entire incident Bonus Army fiasco inflicted grave harm to Hoover’s bid for reelection in 1932.

            Although there were other veterans marches and protests during the Depression, I don’t recall any others being dealt with in the same manner. Eleanor Roosevelt defused a later one by offering the marchers jobs in the Civilian Conservation Corps, which most of them accepted. The joke was that “Hoover sent the Army, Roosevelt sent his wife.”

            As for your opinion of whether our military has ever defended or brought about the freedom of others, why don’t you try your “joke” out on the millions of people who were liberated by United States forces around the world in places like France, Belgium, Holland, Italy, the Philippines, Guam, etc etc etc. in the years 1942-45???

        • Delta Alpha Golf

          Tom – if you’re going to play the “I know a Vet or I read a book written by a Vet” card, then at least make sure it’s relevant and not from a century ago. Do you have any other insight, concerning war profiteering from any CSA or USA vets from the American Civil War? Also, it’s the Medal of Honor. In almost every modern instance, it is award posthumously. No one is award two of them any longer. I do however, partially agree with your comments. Let’s just move them into the 21st century.

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