Mon, Aug

LA’s Homeless Private Benjamins

VIEW FROM HERE - We loved Judy Benjamin in the movie and sitcom Private Benjamin.  Her glamor, clumsiness, perseverance, and dedication to the military kept us glued to the station.

What if the final episode of Private Benjamin was Goldie Hawn discharging to the streets of Los Angeles.  How would we respond?  Furious, of course!   If there was a hint of Private Benjamin becoming homeless in a scene, we’d call the writers to ask them to rewrite the storyline.

I found a story that we can’t rewrite that relates to Private Benjamins in Los Angeles.

In a recent 2011 homeless count conducted by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), the findings revealed that there was a 51% increase in homeless female veterans.  From 2009 to 2011, the figure jumped from 601 to 909.  That’s 308 more of our dedicated service women on the streets in Los Angeles County.

What’s even more perplexing is that there are no bells and whistles over this increase because homelessness in general has pretty much remained static over the past two years.  The report shows there are 51,430 homeless people in Los Angeles County, of which 23,359 are from the City of Los Angeles.  Additionally, the count reflects a modest 3% decrease in the County’s homeless population.

Across the United States, there have been significant increases in female veteran homelessness.  

The resources are not keeping up with the demand.

With a slow economy and lack of homeless female veteran specific services, the transition to civilian life for our women in uniform is challenging.  Our female veterans are encountering high unemployment and mental impairments caused by the war.

I don’t want to see our beloved Private Benjamins on the streets.

We are doing a great disservice if the only option is homelessness.  The least we can do for our
women who have given their lives for our freedom and protection is to give them a home.

(Janet Denise Ganaway-Kelly offers more than a decade of accomplishments in the housing and nonprofit sector. Janet brings valuable insight in the areas of community and economic development. Additionally, she brings knowledge regarding the leadership and management challenges faced by large and small nonprofits that are struggling or growing organizations. She blogs at  jdkellyenterprises.org ) –cw

Tags: Private Benjamin, Los Angeles, homeless, LAHSA, county, freedom

Vol 9 Issue 56
Pub: July 15, 2011