The YWCA has supported members of the military and military families for nearly a century, beginning in World War I when the YWCA and other women’s groups lobbied for a female military corp. The effort paid off during World War II when the first Women’s Auxiliary Corps (WACS) was founded in 1942. Soon after, the YWCA was one of six national organizations that launched the USO.
Every year, at YWCAs across the country, over 4,000 military veterans and their families receive emergency housing, health care, career training and counseling. Military women who are victims of sexual assault also receive support. Here are examples of YWCA services to military veterans and their families:
- YWCA Oahu’s (Hawaii) Fernhurst Residence in downtown Honolulu has a long history of offering safe transitional housing to women veterans from all walks of life. Women Veterans enrolled in the program receive three meals a day and access to YWCA related programs and events. Residents are also provided a curriculum by the Hawaii ADVANCE Women’s Project, which includes comprehensive clinical case management and work force readiness services. Some of these services include: weekly support meetings, financial literacy, stress management classes, computer labs, and job training. The program also addresses issues that are unique to women veterans, such as military sexual trauma (MST).
- YWCA Glendale (Cali.) in collaboration with the Glendale Mayor and Glendale’s Chair of the Commission on the Status of Women have come together to form a Veteran’s Coalition of people and agencies that address female veterans’ issues through: advocacy, the enhancement of current programs and services, and community initiatives. YWCA Glendale additionally has partnered with the Veteran’s Representative at Glendale College and the USC Military Social Intern to deliver Mental Health and benefits services, child care and peer support groups for Female Veterans.
- YWCA Middle Rio Grande’s (N.M.) Henderson House in Albuquerque, New Mexico is a first-of-its-kind transitional living facility for homeless women veterans and their dependent children. First Lady Michelle Obama recognized Henderson House as a model for the country.
- YWCA Seattle│King│Snohomish offers specialized services for veterans and their families, including connecting them to housing, health services and employment assistance. Plans are in the works for a “Welcome Center” where YWCA and King County staff will provide veterans with employment services.