Guest Author - Evelyn Rainey
According to the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics, there were 1,780,379 women veterans in the US in 2007. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, at least nine thousand women veterans are homeless, but the actual count is probably more towards fourteen thousand.
In the US, there are about three hundred residential centers that are set up to house, feed, and educate female and male veterans. There are only fifteen that are specifically dedicated to helping (only) women veterans. The Mary E. Walker House is one of those. Situated in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, their mission is “To offer a safe environment where women veterans can stay, living in harmony with others, while they endeavor to attain personal growth and enhance life skills, in order to re-establish themselves as members of a community and regain ownership of their lives.”
The women who reside there must make a commitment to turn away from habits and lifestyles which led them to their current difficulties. In return, the Mary E. Walker House provides an environment developed to empower the veteran, to encourage the veteran to re-establish connections with others, and to assist the veteran in developing and mastering effective and healthy coping skills.
The key point here is the veteran must make a personal commitment to take charge of her own life.
The eventual goal for all women who enter the Mary E. Walker House is to leave equipped with the physical, emotional and educational tools necessary to rejoin society.
How many of the forteen thousand homeless women veterans can they serve? Thirty at a time.
They are grateful for any assistance you might feel led to give, not just money. The McLeod Prayer Shawl Ministry is sending six shawls and thirty afghans to the women this year. Contact the Mary E. Walker House to see if they have a need for clothing, toiletries, stationary and envelopes or stamps. Women who are admitted to shelters rarely come with more than one change of clothes. I know, working with my adjudicated youth (during my day job), they cherish “real soap and shampoo.” I don’t know if they would be interested in mascara, lipstick and blush, but it couldn’t hurt to ask. Stationery is one of the most precious items my students ask for, so I'm going to asume the same is true for the women veterans at the Mary E. Walker House and other such shelters. The ability to write home, or to write a friend, and especially, to receive a letter from a family member (whom they thought had given up on them), or a friend (who may need to hear how they have improved their life), or even a stranger (who knows what they’ve been through – as a soldier) is invaluable.
These women served our country in the military. How can we repay that? Call or write The Mary E. Walker House
1400 Black Horse Hill Road
Coatesville, PA 19320