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D.C./VA Health Fair For Homeless Serves More Female Vets

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Veterans stand in line to collect their take away items, like socks and backpacks, after first being processed through various health and social services.
Mana Rabiee
Veterans stand in line to collect their take away items, like socks and backpacks, after first being processed through various health and social services.

By Mana Rabiee

The Washington D.C. VA Medical Center had it's annual health fair to reach out to hundreds of homeless vets. But as Mana Rabiee reports, a growing number of the veterans they find are women.

It's called the Winter Haven Stand Down -- a day-long event under one tent that provides health and social services for the estimated 3,500 homeless veterans living in and around D.C. Metro.

Kevin Morton is the VA Homeless Coordinator.When he first came to the VA eight years ago he could count on one hand the number of female veterans he saw in a year.

"Now, with the new war, it's a lot more women, a LOT more women," says Morton.

Morton says eight percent of the homeless veterans the VA deals with are women -- that's up from two percent before Desert Storm and the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Quartermaster U.S. Army! Right down here in Fort Lee, Virginia!"

That's Army Lieutenant Bonita Carrington rummaging through used clothes the VA handed out during the fair.

She says she helped move military equipment destined for Vietnam and has been homeless for ten years.

"The females are finally getting their recognition simply because of the other conflicts -- the Desert Storms and the other ones."

Morton says this year the VA gave out bras for the first time to its homeless female veterans.

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