What happens to women military soldiers once they return home from war is not widely discussed within the African-American community. However, recent studies by the Defense Department reveal that black female veterans are disproportionately being left to fend for themselves. According to follow-up studies, black women who are sexually traumatized in the military are one of the fastest growing segments of the homeless population.
Sexual assault is one of the military’s most vicious secrets for women, a recent New York Times profile shows. One in three military women has been sexually assaulted, the Defense Department revealed – a rate twice as high as that for civilians. A report conducted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office showed that 45 percent of homeless veterans were black women, while 41 percent were white, 7.6 percent were Latina and 1.3 percent were Asian. Most homeless female veterans served during the Persian Gulf and Iraq War periods.
The cause of the growing trend? Post-traumatic stress disorder from sexual assaults that often go unreported due to fear of reprisal. The profile says:
“While male returnees become homeless largely because of substance abuse and mental illness, experts say that female veterans face those problems and more, including the search for family housing and an even-harder time finding well-paying jobs. But a common pathway to homelessness for women, researchers and psychologists said, is military sexual trauma, or M.S.T., from assaults or harassment during their service, which can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder.”