Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

For female veterans, unique problems and little help

TAMPA — Pam Smith-Beatty didn't think of herself as a veteran. She was a wife, a mother — many things before she was a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel.

"I thought a veteran was an old guy who had shot people," she said.

It's a common image, and because of it, many female veterans don't realize they're eligible for benefits, said Smith-Beatty, the women veterans program manager at James A. Haley VA Medical Center.

She was one of about a dozen women who brainstormed ways Hillsborough can help female veterans at a meeting Tuesday hosted by the county's Commission on the Status of Women.

It was spurred by some staggering statistics:

About 300 female veterans are homeless in Hillsborough County. About 20 percent of women screened at Veterans Affairs facilities report sexual trauma. Florida, with about 140,000, has the third-largest number of female vets.

And these women have unique issues. Many have young children. Some are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Veteran Corry Neal, 38, said she's less concerned about financial support and more about emotional help. Tears streaming, she shared her story at Tuesday's meeting.

She has four boys with her husband, who's active duty military. In his absence, their children, ages 11, 12, 13 and 15, deal with strong emotions, from pride to resentment.

She has tried counseling but needs someone who understands the uniqueness of military families, she said.

Children are often overlooked when it comes to military issues, the panel agreed.

They didn't offer any solutions Tuesday, but plan to continue meeting to discuss employment, housing and mental health issues.

These meetings will likely improve communication, which has been a problem, they agreed. Just this month, the University of South Florida held an event for female veterans at the Museum of Science and Industry, and Tampa Crossroads — which offers transitional housing for female veterans — wasn't told.

"We could have had a houseful of women there," said Tampa Crossroads director Sara Romeo.

To Romeo, many of the panel's suggestions were nice, but she's more concerned with the basics.

"The women I see, they literally walk in with a plastic bag, and that's all they have to their name," she said. "It's a national disgrace."

The nonprofit is raising money to open a new home for female veterans with children.

"There's nothing like that anywhere," Romeo said.

It has raised about $575,000 in federal grants and already own the land. It needs about $250,000 more, she said.

The group also broached the idea of starting a welcoming brigade for female service members who fly into Tampa International Airport.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3433.

>>Fast facts

Assistance for female veterans

For benefits assistance, call the women veterans manager at James A. Haley VA Medical Center at (813) 972-2000, ext. 6695.

For clothing, food, employment and housing concerns, contact the Tampa Crossroads Veterans Assistance Center at (813) 238-8557, ext. 300.

For female veterans, unique problems and little help 11/29/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 12:15am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Romano: Why flood insurance might not be enough to save your home

    Local Government

    Irma is gone, and Maria never came.

    And yet this is as good a time as any to worry.

  2. Tampa's streetcar system looks to expand north through downtown

    Transportation

    TAMPA — The TECO Line Streetcar system that runs from Ybor City to the Channel District could be extended north through downtown all the way to Tampa Heights, according to the latest update of a $1.7 million study aimed at expanding the streetcar system.

    Riders take in the last few stops of the streetcar route in Ybor City during the tenth anniversary celebration of the TECO line streetcar system in Tampa in 2012. Now officials are looking for ways to expand the service north through downtown to Tampa Heights. [EVE EDELHEIT  |  Times]
  3. Interview: Steve Martin, Martin Short bringing 'best version' of their show back to St. Petersburg

    Stage

    Hot celebrity-spotting tip: Stop by the Salvador Dalí Museum on Jan. 19. You might catch a glimpse of Steve Martin.

    Steve Martin, left, and Martin Short will bring “An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life” to the Mahaffey Theater on Jan. 19.
  4. Report: Well-being of black and Hispanic children continues to lag in Florida

    K12

    Despite making progress in health care access and parental employment, Florida has not improved its poverty rate for children over the past five years, a newly released national report shows.

    Students line up in the courtyard at predominantly black Lakewood Elementary in St. Petersburg. A new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation finds that Florida ranks 28th in the nation on an index that measures the well-being of black children. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  5. Second lady Karen Pence to speak at Tampa art therapy summit

    Veterans

    TAMPA — Second lady Karen Pence will visit The David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday to address advocates of art therapy programs for military members and families.