VA, Shelters Work To Help Growing Number of Female Veterans - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

VA, Shelters Work To Help Growing Number of Female Veterans

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Right now, the VA is on a campaign to end veteran homelessness. That means working with shelters in the Oklahoma City area to develop new programs, so America's heroes will no longer be on the streets. Right now, the VA is on a campaign to end veteran homelessness. That means working with shelters in the Oklahoma City area to develop new programs, so America's heroes will no longer be on the streets.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

Homeless shelters are helping a growing number of female veterans. The federal government says the number of homeless female veterans has more than doubled in the past five years.

Right now, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is on a campaign to end veteran homelessness; that means working with shelters in the Oklahoma City area to develop new programs so America's heroes will no longer be on the streets.

"Without the Jesus House, I [wouldn't] have [anything]," homeless Navy veteran Dewayne Tolleson said.

Tolleson spent eight years in the Navy. Once he returned home, he lost everything and ended up on the streets. Now, he lives at the Jesus House homeless shelter near downtown Oklahoma City.

"The veterans don't really have [a place] to go because all the veterans' places are filled up," Tolleson said.

From 2006 to 2010, the number of homeless female veterans doubled to 3,328, according to the Government Accountability Office. Currently, there are no female veterans at the Jesus House. However, that doesn't mean Oklahoma City is immune from the problem.

"There are plenty of veterans on the streets of Oklahoma City that are homeless," Jesus House executive director Rick Denny said.

Denny is working with the VA to develop a transitional program for homeless veterans and is expecting to see more women.

"The streets are more unsafe for women than they are men," Denny said.

The idea is to find the veterans, bring them to the Jesus House, point them in the right direction and, of course, say thanks.

"When you see a veteran on the street … they love to hear, ‘thank you,'" Denny said. "Most of the time, they like to talk about their service."

Tolleson agrees. He says a simple thanks means a lot. For Tolleson, the increase in female veteran homelessness is heartbreaking.

"Veterans should not be homeless," Tolleson said.

Although the number of homeless female veterans is increasing, the overall number of homeless veterans dropped 12 percent in the last two years, according to the VA.

The VA says female veterans are at a greater risk of homelessness because they are more likely to be diagnosed with mental health issues and to have suffered sexual trauma during their service.

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