HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Homeless female veterans will soon get a helping hand from other women who served in the military.
A home at 1338 State Street has a rusted roof and tattered patio, but what’s inside is getting a major makeover to transform the lives of homeless women who fought for our nation’s freedom.
A new journey for homeless female veterans gets closer to reality with each box moved and every new coat of plaster on the wall.
“We have a lot of women, over 150,000 women, across this country that are veterans, who are homeless, and have been experiencing chronic homelessness,” said Jolanda Woods, CEO and founder of the Women’s Wisdom House.
The State Street home will house three female veterans and a house mother. The veterans can stay from 12 to 24 months. They’ll get shelter, learn job and life skills, and get help with job placement.
Ginnise “Trip” Montaño’s father emigrated from the Dominican Republic and served in the military. She’s donating her time doing drywall so the house can be ready in 45 days.
“It’s the least I can do,” Montaño said. “They give up their families to go do this. They give up not just their families but their children. They give up everything that they ever loved to go and fight to make sure they have something to come back to, and nine times out of ten, it’s not like that.”
This is the only homeless center for female veterans in a home setting in Pennsylvania and the fifth one in the entire country. Eighty percent of the board members are women who are veterans themselves.
“I think people probably have their perceptions of what it’s like to be a woman, a female serving in the military, but you really don’t know unless you’ve actually been through it. There is a lot of support for veterans who are men and women, we just don’t have those same resources,” said U.S. Army Captain Tess Bockes, the executive board member of the Women’s Wisdom House.
Woods understands this struggle all too well. Her sister served in the Army, never got treatment for her needs, and passed away at only 43 years old.
“At the time, in 1984, there was no help for veteran women, and this is what inspired me to help other women and their families with the women in their families who are suffering with military sexual trauma and PTSD,” Woods said.
Woods hopes to open up several other Women’s Wisdom Houses in Dauphin County in the future and hopes the idea can spread across the nation.
“Every veteran that took that oath did not take that oath just for our government,” Woods said. “They took it for their neighbors, their family members, their co-workers, their school mates, their cousins. They had in mind protecting their families and their communities, so now we need our community to come forth and help with them.”
“They sacrifice their lives, and it’s an emotional sacrifice. It’s a mental sacrifice. It’s definitely a physical sacrifice with every part of their job,” Montaño said.
The Women’s Wisdom House is in need of volunteers and donations. You can donate monetarily to them at any PNC Bank. For more information on donating items or your time, visit the Facebook page, click here or call (267) 582-5457.
You can come out for an awareness campaign at the Chili’s Restaurant in the High Pointe Commons, 4611 High Pointe Blvd., Harrisburg, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday, June 27. Chili’s will donate 10 percent of sales to the organization.