NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – A home for the holidays. Homeless women veterans living in Western Massachusetts got the help they need to heal from serious trauma.
“We should not have any veteran living on the street,” said homeless women veteran Kathy Copeland. But about 50,000 veterans do live on the street, each night. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, 1.4 million veterans and their families are at risk of becoming homeless. It’s enough to make Copeland cry. “These are people signing a blank check up to, and including, our lives for this country. And then to come back and not have the assets available to us,” she said.
Tuesday, however, she was crying tears of joy. She was getting a new home and a new lease on life. Kathy and 11 other homeless women veterans had shared an old home on the campus of the Central Western Massachusetts Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The home was leased out by Soldier On, a veteran’s advocacy group. With the help of former homeless veterans, family and friends, they moved across campus Tuesday to a new home for 16 women, with much more to offer. The nearly 3.5 million dollar facility is fully funded by you, the taxpayer.
This facility and all its programs are run completely by women for women. There will soon be a yoga center, and next to it, an arts and crafts room. It’s all to help these women veterans recover and heal from the physical and emotional trauma they’ve experienced.
“Our women have really been traumatized in every way, shape and form. Over 80 percent of our women have experienced military sexual trauma and 100 percent were traumatized before they went into the military,” said Soldier On Women’s Program Director Sara Scoco. She said there’s a waiting list for Soldier On’s services, showing just how many homeless veterans are in need living in Western Massachusetts.
“We have a lot of work to do, miles to go before we sleep,” said Soldier On President and CEO Gary Shepard.
A permanent home isn’t just a roof and four walls: It’s also a place to feel safe emotionally and physically. That’s really what this new transitional home provides our veterans.
-By WWLP Reporter Kait Walsh