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Below are a compilation of stories from veterans of all walks of life and branches of the military. You may find heartwarming tales, opinion pieces, or narratives that remind us all that after serving their country, veterans may still face challenges returning home.

My motivation for helping with OHT is my near experiences with homelessness.
My first was right after I had gotten out of the military.  I had a three year old to raise and it took me almost six months to find a job.  My unemployment had ran out, and finally a job offer.
I worked hard, saved all I could, paid the bills and my boss of three months told me around Christmas time no less that the check we just got better be cashed in a hurry because the clinic I worked at was being closed by the IRS the next day.
So thank goodness for my sister who is an mechanical engineer with GM who loaned me money until I got into another job.
I finally did three months later in the hospital that I had originally gotten an offer at before I got out of the military, but they had to give my position to someone else because the company I was with kept on delaying my out time for the military.
So I know what it's like to be a single parent struggling to make a living.
Some people don't have the luxury of family nearby or family at all and most importantly family who are willing to help.
Stories of Service - Department of Veteran Affairs

VA is building a library that documents women in the United States Armed Forces, from their significant contributions to national safety and security to the ongoing challenges faced during their service and after returning to civilian life. Click on the images to see and hear these Stories of Service from women Veterans, in their own words.

"As Michigan's service men and women return home to their families, finding work is an integral part of their transition. According to state officials, between 7,000 and 9,000 veterans are expected to return to Michigan this year alone. Yet just as finding work has been a challenge for all young adults during recent years, our youngest male veterans have been finding even more barriers, with 29% unemployed in 2011, compared with 18% of their non-veteran counterparts."

Via Workforce Intelligence Network
Read the full story here.

"As a follow up to the “Crap and Craic” piece I wrote earlier this week, I’d like to add a few more thoughts I have about issues women vets face while deployed and when they return.  I’d already been mulling it over and then yesterday I had a three hour long interview with Greta Privitera from Italian Vanity Fair and my mind was forced in that direction once more."

Read the full story here.
"Women veterans are represented by the media in a variety of ways, ranging from wanna-be rape victims (as per Liz Trotta’s recent delusional discourse on Fox News) to princess warriors upon pedestals.  As the case goes when talking in extremes, neither far-flung depiction is accurate, and the truth fluctuates somewhere in the proverbial “middle;” where rapes do and don’t happen and where female military members are a mix of princesses, well-adjusted women, militant hardliners, or a dynamic combination of several character traits."

Read the full story here.
"A veteran's opinion:
ANY Veteran who needs medical assistance, including mental health services, should get that care ASAP. Regardless of 'claim status' or 'rating'.
This is the fundamental problem with our government red tape in the VA claims process.
Making a Veteran wait any period of time after discharge for ANY care needed is a BIG problem, ESPECIALLY if PTSD is involved, or some other mental illness where that Veteran could be a danger to himself and/or others.
This is just common sense, and common decency with respect to those who have served.
I would like to propose legislation that would guarantee "interim care" to ANY Veteran that walks through the door of the VA after discharge.
This would also help the VA at the disability claims level as there would be records of treatment, and a doctor's opinion could then be available of the veterans actual condition.
It's 'win-win.' "

-Steve LaCroix
"This is a wonderful thing that you are doing for our female heroes. I Salute you for your support. Thank you for all that you do and know that you are appreciated. Take care and God Bless."

- Terrance
"Yes Carrie you are sadly correct us veterans do have to fight the government for our rights to compensation. I am a Persian Gulf veteran and have been diagnosed with PTSD from my VA therapist and veterans center therapist. And my claim hase been n over 300 days and they just keep giving me the run around regarding my compensation. I have been fighting this for 22 yrs and living with untreated ptsd for just as long. The process is enexceptable and takes way to long. They put the burden of proof on us veterans and when we come out we are not in any mental condition to manuever threw the VA system. This is very sad the way the government treats its Veterans (warriors)."

- Peter
"I live with my mom and brother in a crowded house that we cannot get repaired and I do not know how much longer we can get the mortgage paid. It is unhealthy to be around my mom and it always has been. I do not mind at all relocating to another state but I have no money. every since I left the military, I have had major problems finding employment and The VA lied and took away my disability in 2009. I am still fighting to get it back. I complained to my congressman last year about the VA. I've also complained on the VA website and I've yet to receive a response and that was two weeks ago, i think. I tried to get back in the CWT program at the VA and I was given the run around. I have health problems that they will not address or treat me for. I clearly sustained a back injury in the Army and the VA still will not give me compensation for it. I had an eye injury a few weeks back and the VA nurse did nothing. She didn't even take my vitals so I had to go to the ER and I got the bill yesterday and it's 627.00. I have never had a hospital bill before. I do not have a job, income of my own nor do I have any health insurance. I have VA educational benefits left but I cannot use them because they say I own them for dropping out of school in April 2006. MY MGIB expires on October 1st. My hands are kind of tied at this point. My income tax would have paid my federal debt but I have not earned any income since 2008. The lady called again and told me to get help from a social worker at the VA. I can try when I am in Dallas tomorrow. They will no doubt give me the business."
"Carrie, female service members always be the ones to take it in the shorts. I retired from the military after 22 years of service, and I can witness and know how bad it really is. Especially our female veterans getting out of the military whether they retired or not. "
"Carrie, you have a real good program for our female programs and I support it very much. I agree that females are subject to much more stress because the have to work and perform harder than the male service members. I have a female veteran that works very hard in our division and sometimes she's not treated like she should be. She literally passed up our male employees after only five months working with her. I literally give her all my support as I had to secretly teach her over the phone and internet, because my male counterparts, don't have the intelligence, skills and knowledge to adequately teach her properly. One even attempted to brainwash her to quit and go on SSD. It sad Carrie, I'm not boasting, but I have more knowledge and skills than my entire division does put together, and I told our female veteran that I hop she passes me up someday. So ultimately it's not just the homeless female veterans that are in poverty, it's all of them throughout. I totally understand this situation."

My father served in the Navy on the USS Lexington during Vietnam, one grandfather served in the Army WW2, one grandfather served in the Navy WW2, there are aunts, uncles and cousins that have served as well and now my son is a United States Marine. I did not grow up in a "Military" family/atmosphere at all and there were no serious wars or conflicts on the news everyday like we have now. When I grew up we did not have thousands of families with a loved one deployed to a combat zone, terror threat levels or daily news reports about our Troops. Terrorism was something that happened very far away in other countries not something we worried about happening here in the United States. We could walk someone all the way to their gate at the airport without a strip search and the worst thing you worried about was getting stuck next to a crying baby on the flight. Serving in the United States Military was not the publicly celebrated, respected and honored thing it is today. I remember hearing about Vietnam like the men and women that served and sacrificed had done something wrong to hide and be ashamed of in the media and movies, that never seemed quite right to me even at a very young age, they should have been treated as the Heroes they are. So as I grew up war was not a huge thing on my mind, it was part of history and the ones that still happened were far away in other parts of the world. It was not until Desert Storm that I really started thinking about our men, women and families in the Military. I remember watching the news reports then looking at my second son while pregnant with my third and praying that my boys would never have to see this or go to war themselves, without a clue that the precious baby I was watching in the swing would grow up to be a US Marine. But it was still far away in another country..... then 9/11 happened here in this country on our own soil. As with countless others that day is frozen in my memory and changed life as I knew it. I have always loved America and supported our Troops but 9/11 brought a much deeper, stronger feeling and meaning to all that. Other than Pearl Harbor we have never been attacked here at home before, our safe bubble was gone with the realization that so many people in the world truly hate America, want to kill every one of us and do have the ability to attack us here at home. This put a whole different perspective on everything for me. I thought back to our Founding Fathers, the colonists and all they went through to have and leave for us a life of freedom. They risked everything including their own lives to accomplish this and now it was all being attacked with the threat of much more to come by these people that hate us and have vowed to never give up trying to destroy us. Then seeing all the men and women standing up to volunteer to defend us and our freedom was amazing. These men and women were willing to leave their families and lives knowing they may never return so the rest of us as well as future generations can enjoy the freedom of being an American. Never again would I enjoy any freedom and not think about and be thankful for all the Troops and families have given and sacrificed. How could you not support the Troops now? It seemed every single American was behind our Troops. Now 11 years later, our Troops are still being deployed to combat zones, people seem to be divided about supporting the Troops and I sadly hear stories of more and more of our Veterans being cheated, taken advantage of, denied benefits and worst of all forgotten and left homeless. How does this happen? How does this country turn it's back on the Veterans that have served and sacrificed for us? Even one is too many but sadly there are many more than that in many different towns and cities. Our Veterans should never go without a job, healthcare, food or a home. Our Home Transitional is doing amazing things to help change this for our female Veterans in Michigan and give them the help, support, love, encouragement, healthcare, training and tools they deserve and need. Our Veterans are the reason for our freedom, they ARE America and we do owe everything to them and their families. Thank You Our Home Transitional for all you do.  Laura Koltz

Women Veterans Speak Out: Dog Tags

Posted by YWM on October 31, 2012

Returning guest blogger, Elizabeth McLean, an Air Force Academy graduate who has transitioned into the civilian world in search of fulfillment after serving on active duty for four and a half years continues to tell her personal story of life after the military.

The following is a monologue that I wrote and preformed  for the Ms Veteran America contest. I was speaking a homeless veteran on the streets of San Francisco. In the scene I leaned against a bench in tattered military garb, with a blanket wrapped around me. Starting out…singing to myself.

 “hello darkness my old friend…I’ve come to talk with you again. While the vision softly creeping..plants the seed while I as sleeping…”

Sleep. Right. I am sure that is exactly what you all think I am doing here. Curled up in a fetal position against the graffitied wall with tatterered garbage blanket I found on the curbside—hell, I haven’t slept in months!

Do you have any idea just how cold it is before the sun comes up? I can’t even feel my own toes in these combat boots. And not like it really matters anyways cuz’ I’ve got everything I need right here in my bag. Canteen, compass, my son’s stuffed animal you threw back at me for you took him away for the final time. And then..I have these dog tags.

{STAND} Oh I see you walking by with you half eaten deli sandwich, thinking you can just toss it at me and I might give you these tags. Well that is not how it works. These tags are the only thing I have left in this world that reminds me that I once made something of myself. I am not anything now!

I used to be this beautiful girl. Poised, sophisticated, hair pulled back neat in a bun. But I didn’t mind getting dirty with the rest of those guys in the Wild West. Sure I HATED when the bombs when off. And I hated those convoys probably more than ANYTHING else in this world. But there was something about being out there…petrified with all of them. That beat the hell out of being alone out here like this!

I thought one day…I might be able to tell my war stories. But it really doesn’t seem like anybody wants to give me a chance. I knew it would be a rough transition when I got back…but I never in million years thought I would end up like this. Tired, filthy, incredibly alone.

All I really wanted was for someone to listen to me. To call me a war hero, or at least recognize the fact that I was out there serving too. But instead you just walk by, kick the can and call me another homeless BUM underneath your breath.

Well sir I can tell you….this homeless VET; she fights more battles in a single day then you will probably ever fight in your life time. But she is…tired. You took away my home, you took away my money, you took away what was left of my family….and right now, the only thing I have left is the freedom that these dog tags represent [grasp tags]….and NO SIR…you will not ever take that away from me!

" Hear the powerful stories of women who have experienced military sexual trauma. By finding the strength to reach out for help and connect with others who had similar experiences, they were able to get on a path of healing and learn to trust again."

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