[Hpn] Women Vets

joe reynolds jos_reyn@yahoo.com
Wed, 2 Jul 2003 22:47:02 -0700 (PDT)


--0-1287373172-1057211222=:46921
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii

Female Vets More Likely to Be Homeless

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter 
(HealthDay is the new name for HealthScoutNews.)


  
---------------------------------
      
 
WEDNESDAY, July 2 (HealthDayNews) -- New research suggests women who are veterans face an even greater risk of homelessness than their male counterparts.


But the challenges of military life may not be the sole cause of homelessness among these women. Instead, they may be harboring personal problems from years earlier, says study co-author Dr. Robert Rosenheck, the director of the VA Northeast Program Evaluation Center.


"Women join the military exclusively on a voluntary basis, and they often don't have strong civilian prospects or are looking for a way out of difficult family relationships," he says. "We don't have evidence for (this theory), but we think it's a reasonable interpretation."


Female veterans are a fairly small group -- they made up just 5 percent of all American vets in 2000 -- but their numbers will grow over the next several years because more women are in the armed forces. The percentage of women in the military has grown from 4 percent in 1983 to 12 percent in 2000.


Rosenheck and his colleagues examined the results of two surveys of homeless people for their findings, which appear in the July issue of the American Journal of Public Health.


One survey, taken over five years in nine states, targeted mentally ill homeless people who didn't receive services. The researchers looked at the results from 2,658 women surveyed from 1994-1998 and found that 4.4 percent were veterans.


In the other survey, from 1996, federal researchers talked to 832 homeless women from more than 100 communities. Of those women, 3.1 percent were veterans.


In contrast, about 1.2 percent of non-homeless women are veterans.


The numbers suggest that homeless women are three to four times more likely to be veterans than those who have homes, Rosenheck says. By contrast, homeless men are only 1.3 times more likely to be vets.


While there's a common perception that the ranks of the homeless are filled with male veterans, that's not actually the case, Rosenheck adds. And, in another swipe at common wisdom, veterans who served after the Vietnam War actually suffer from more homelessness than Vietnam vets.


"In spite of the criticism of the (Vietnam War) draft, it actually was a great leveler," Rosenheck says. "The military services actually were quite representative of the population, although they didn't have the very well off or the severely disabled or people with mental retardation."


After the Vietnam War, the armed forces returned to volunteer status and began getting more applicants who "don't have very good prospects," he says. "We have some evidence that in the immediate post-Vietnam period, 1970s to 1980s, people going into the military had more several mental health and addiction problems. They have more problems when they get out."


Dr. Margot Kushel, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco and an expert on homelessness, agrees that women vets may enter the military with personal problems that could lead to homelessness after their service is completed.


"People who have less stable home environments may seek out military experience in order to gain stability. We know that a major risk for homelessness in general is fewer social supports like family and community," she says.


It could also be that women are more vulnerable to the traumas of serving in the military and may develop post-traumatic stress disorder or other psychiatric conditions more often.


"It is possible that women experience not only traumatic events in combat but also are exposed to sexual assault in the military. Prior sexual assault may be a risk factor," Kushel adds.

 


Another theory is the job skills women pick up in the military may not transfer as well into careers in civilian life, she says. "It is also possible that the systems in place to support veterans (benefits, health care, etc.) are less accessible to women than men," she adds.

The findings suggest the veterans system must pay more attention to women vets, especially when they're discharged because of psychological problems, Rosenheck says. "We did another recent study that showed only about 40 percent of people discharged because they had a mental illness made it to the VA system."

Did the veterans left behind become homeless? Nobody knows, Rosenheck says.



---------------------------------
Do you Yahoo!?
SBC Yahoo! DSL - Now only $29.95 per month!
--0-1287373172-1057211222=:46921
Content-Type: text/html; charset=us-ascii

<DIV>
<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0>
<TBODY>
<TR>
<TD height=8></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0>
<TBODY>
<TR vAlign=top>
<TD class=article width=440>
<DIV class=storyheadline>Female Vets More Likely to Be Homeless</DIV>
<P><!-- TextStart --><I><FONT size=2><B>By Randy Dotinga</B><BR><I>HealthDay Reporter</I></FONT></I> 
<P><FONT face=arial size=-1><I>(HealthDay is the new name for HealthScoutNews.)</I></P></FONT>
<P>
<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="1%" align=left border=0>
<TBODY>
<TR vAlign=top>
<TD width="99%"><!-- Extra hl --><BR>
<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=2 width=160 border=0>
<TBODY>
<TR>
<TD noWrap bgColor=#73a5e7><B></B></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=1 width=160 bgColor=#73a5e7 border=0>
<TBODY>
<TR>
<TD>
<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=1 width="100%" bgColor=#ffffff border=0>
<TBODY>
<TR>
<TD colSpan=3 height=7><SPACER height="7" width="1" type="block"></TD></TR>
<TR>
<TD vAlign=top><A href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/health/news_story_module/image/*http://health.yahoo.com/centers/digestive/"></A></TD>
<TD><SMALL><FONT face=Verdana></FONT></SMALL></TD>
<TD>&nbsp; </TD></TR>
<TR>
<TD colSpan=3>
<HR noShade SIZE=1>
</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=1 width="100%" bgColor=#ffffff border=0>
<TBODY>
<TR>
<TD colSpan=3><SMALL><FONT face=Verdana>&nbsp;</FONT></SMALL></TD></TR>
<TR>
<TD vAlign=top>&nbsp;</TD>
<TD><A href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/health/news_story_module/symptoms/*http://health.yahoo.com/health/centers/digestive/7.html"><SMALL><FONT face=Verdana></FONT></SMALL></A></TD>
<TD>&nbsp;</TD></TR>
<TR>
<TD vAlign=top>&nbsp;</TD>
<TD><A href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/health/news_story_module/diagnosis/*http://health.yahoo.com/health/centers/digestive/5.html"><SMALL><FONT face=Verdana></FONT></SMALL></A></TD>
<TD>&nbsp;</TD></TR>
<TR>
<TD vAlign=top></TD>
<TD><A href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/health/news_story_module/treatment/*http://health.yahoo.com/health/centers/digestive/8.html"><SMALL><FONT face=Verdana></FONT></SMALL></A></TD>
<TD>&nbsp;</TD></TR>
<TR>
<TD colSpan=3 height=5><SPACER height="5" width="1" type="block"></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><BR></TD>
<TD width=5>&nbsp;</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><FONT face=arial size=-1>
<P>WEDNESDAY, July 2 (HealthDayNews) -- New research suggests women who are veterans face an even greater risk of homelessness than their male counterparts.</P>
<P>
<P>But the challenges of military life may not be the sole cause of homelessness among these women. Instead, they may be harboring personal problems from years earlier, says study co-author Dr. Robert Rosenheck, the director of the VA Northeast Program Evaluation Center.</P>
<P>
<P>"Women join the military exclusively on a voluntary basis, and they often don't have strong civilian prospects or are looking for a way out of difficult family relationships," he says. "We don't have evidence for (this theory), but we think it's a reasonable interpretation."</P>
<P>
<P>Female veterans are a fairly small group -- they made up just 5 percent of all American vets in 2000 -- but their numbers will grow over the next several years because more women are in the armed forces. The percentage of women in the military has grown from 4 percent in 1983 to 12 percent in 2000.</P>
<P>
<P>Rosenheck and his colleagues examined the results of two surveys of homeless people for their findings, which appear in the July issue of the <I>American Journal of Public Health</I>.</P>
<P>
<P>One survey, taken over five years in nine states, targeted mentally ill homeless people who didn't receive services. The researchers looked at the results from 2,658 women surveyed from 1994-1998 and found that 4.4 percent were veterans.</P>
<P>
<P>In the other survey, from 1996, federal researchers talked to 832 homeless women from more than 100 communities. Of those women, 3.1 percent were veterans.</P>
<P>
<P>In contrast, about 1.2 percent of non-homeless women are veterans.</P>
<P>
<P>The numbers suggest that homeless women are three to four times more likely to be veterans than those who have homes, Rosenheck says. By contrast, homeless men are only 1.3 times more likely to be vets.</P>
<P>
<P>While there's a common perception that the ranks of the homeless are filled with male veterans, that's not actually the case, Rosenheck adds. And, in another swipe at common wisdom, veterans who served after the Vietnam War actually suffer from more homelessness than Vietnam vets.</P>
<P>
<P>"In spite of the criticism of the (Vietnam War) draft, it actually was a great leveler," Rosenheck says. "The military services actually were quite representative of the population, although they didn't have the very well off or the severely disabled or people with mental retardation."</P>
<P>
<P>After the Vietnam War, the armed forces returned to volunteer status and began getting more applicants who "don't have very good prospects," he says. "We have some evidence that in the immediate post-Vietnam period, 1970s to 1980s, people going into the military had more several mental health and addiction problems. They have more problems when they get out."</P>
<P>
<P>Dr. Margot Kushel, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco and an expert on homelessness, agrees that women vets may enter the military with personal problems that could lead to homelessness after their service is completed.</P>
<P>
<P>"People who have less stable home environments may seek out military experience in order to gain stability. We know that a major risk for homelessness in general is fewer social supports like family and community," she says.</P>
<P>
<P>It could also be that women are more vulnerable to the traumas of serving in the military and may develop post-traumatic stress disorder or other psychiatric conditions more often.</P>
<P>
<P>"It is possible that women experience not only traumatic events in combat but also are exposed to sexual assault in the military. Prior sexual assault may be a risk factor," Kushel adds.</P>
<P>
<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="1%" align=left border=0>
<TBODY>
<TR vAlign=top>
<TD width="99%"></TD>
<TD width=5>&nbsp;</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
<P>
<P>
<P>Another theory is the job skills women pick up in the military may not transfer as well into careers in civilian life, she says. "It is also possible that the systems in place to support veterans (benefits, health care, etc.) are less accessible to women than men," she adds.</P>
<P>The findings suggest the veterans system must pay more attention to women vets, especially when they're discharged because of psychological problems, Rosenheck says. "We did another recent study that showed only about 40 percent of people discharged because they had a mental illness made it to the VA system."</P>
<P>Did the veterans left behind become homeless? Nobody knows, Rosenheck says.</P></FONT></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></DIV><p><hr SIZE=1>
Do you Yahoo!?<br>
<a href="http://pa.yahoo.com/*http://rd.yahoo.com/evt=1207/*http://promo.yahoo.com/sbc/">SBC Yahoo! DSL</a> - Now only $29.95 per month!
--0-1287373172-1057211222=:46921--