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Testimony: Meeting the Needs of Women Veterans

There continues to be an oversight addressing, which explains in part why they are becoming the fastest growing segment of the homeless veteran population. Deborah Berkman, Supervising Attorney of NYLAG’s Shelter Advocacy Initiative, and Ryan Foley, Supervising Attorney of our Veterans Practice, submitted testimony to the New York State Assembly’s Standing Committees on Veterans’ Affair and Social Services and the Subcommittee on Women Veterans about the impacts of agencies overlooking women veterans. Below is an excerpt from their testimony: 

“Female veterans must rely on the standard shelter system, where staff may not ask about military service and often lack an understanding of the different resources and benefits available for veterans. Moreover, standard shelter does not employ the “pod” system that grants veterans privacy and safety. In contrast, most of New York City’s non-veteran shelters consist of congregate sites which can have up to 100 people in a single dorm or room. Many of NYLAG’s veteran clients who identify as having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are afraid to sleep in a room with multiple other people and have attempted to stay in congregate shelters but have not been able to remain there because their PTSD was triggered. Moreover, most of the clients who have stayed in congregate shelter have either experienced or witnessed assault and trauma while there, which is particularly difficult for veterans with PTSD. As a result, these clients turn to sleeping outside. Female veterans must have a dedicated shelter that caters to their needs.” 

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