We have reported extensively on the growing problem of homeless veterans in America. What you might not know, is that female veterans are much more likely to become homeless than men are. The Zion house is a unique local program just for women.
On a quiet side street in Avon next to the Zion Episcopal Church is an old rectory that is being put to new use. Zion House is the first transitional housing in New york State for female veterans who are homeless. It's a partnership between the church and the American Legion. They have room for seven women. They get help from veteran's agencies and service providers while they stay here.
The Reverend Kelly Ayer is Director. She is also a veteran and was homeless. "Oh God I felt worthless and like a mooch."
Research out from the VA in March shows that since 2006 the number of female veterans who are homeless in America has more than doubled. These women have several things in common. They suffer from PTSD, they are single mothers, they've lost jobs because of the bad economy and they're victims of sexual trauma while in the military, which means anything from harassment to rape."
Kelly says all the ladies they have served at Zion House have been touched by Military Sexual Trauma. "And that's why we have individual rooms. Because that gives them safety and that gives them healing."
Zion House gives women like Linda Brown-Howard a place to stay and learn a skill while they deal with personal issues. Linda was in the Army National guard and is a recovering drug addict. "I'm learning how to be on my own two feet. I'm learning how to communicate with others and trust other people."
Iyana Craig served in the Army. She says being around women with similar backgrounds helps a lot. "Well because we share from each other. We feed off each others experiences and it really helps."
Lisa Lavelle was in the Navy and is being treated for PTSD. "My great hope for me personally is to get settled in an apartment or stay here for awhile.. and be content. Because I haven't been in a long time."
Pastor Ayer says there are more than 100,000 homeless female veterans across the country. "They served alongside with honor and dignity just like the men did. They deserve our thanks, our praise and our help."
Zion House is one of the many resources in our community to serve our veterans after they come home from serving our country.
The female veterans at Zion House make Goat's Milk soaps and lotions called Boadicea to support the program. For information on purchasing the products or how to get help from Zion House, please call Reverand Kelly Ayer at 585-991-3545. Or for a link to the website click here.
We have many resources for Veterans.
The toll free number to the VA's Veteran's Crisis Line is 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1.
Veterans, family members or friends can access Veterans Chat service and get information on-line.
The hotline to provide emergency support and resources to Veterans who are homeless is 1-877-424-3838.
The Veteran's Outreach Center has many free resources for veterans in the Rochester Region.
Warrior Salute is a service of CDS Monarch that helps Veterans from all over the country with PTSD.