We’ve all heard stories about veterans who served our country in war returning home with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that nearly 40,000 veterans are homeless.
One of the biggest contributing factors is PTSD.
Forty three percent of Buncombe County’s homeless are veterans. Among veterans, women are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population.
Over the last decade, the number of homeless women veterans has nearly doubled.
Jessica was born and raised in Asheville and entered the Army in 2007. She served as a veterinary technician and worked with 535 military dogs from all over the world. Jessica moved up the military ranks and received the Army Good Conduct Medal, Overseas Service Bar, and presidential recognition during her time in Iraq.
She also witnessed unspeakable violence and death, which left her with severe PTSD.
When she returned home from the war in 2013, Jessica had difficulty holding down a job because work environments with loud noises, small work spaces and being around people she didn’t know triggered panic attacks and high anxiety.
For six years, Jessica moved frequently with each job change. During that time, she was married and divorced and had two daughters. Jessica had moved six or seven times, never bothering to change the address on her driver’s license knowing she wouldn’t be in one place long enough. Her children felt that moving constantly was a normal way of life.
Jessica had been repeatedly denied disability benefits and without work, she was running out of money. Her parents couldn’t help support her any more.
That is when Jessica became homeless.
Rather than be out on the street, Jessica moved into a shelter. Her first night there she cried all night, thinking, “What have I done to my daughters.” The small spaces and all the people felt scary and triggered Jessica’s PTSD.
Fortunately, someone who worked at the shelter referred Jessica to Homeward Bound…
According to Jessica: “I worked with Wes, Molly and Miranda from Homeward Bound and I never felt so welcomed. They offered me complete encouragement with no judgement whatsoever.”
Three months after entering the shelter, Jessica’s case managers found her a home.
Your donation provides housing and support services for veterans and their families, and other vulnerable people who are homeless.
Homeward Bound connected Jessica with a VA social worker who helped her successfully appeal the disability decision. Now her income pays for rent and utilities. She is attending South College in a paralegal program and this semester made the Dean’s list.