A few years ago, Air Force veteran Teresa Lambert felt silenced about her experiences in the military, as do many female vets. But now she speaks up by hosting a radio show focused on issues facing female veterans that’s sponsored by Women Veteran Social Justice (WVSJ) and recorded on the campus of the University of North Georgia Gainesville.
Lambert has a lot to talk about on air, such as the fact that female veterans are more likely to become homeless than male veterans are, and women vets face homelessness at a rate four times greater than civilian women. Since many of them are coping with trauma from abuse, female soldiers feel uncomfortable visiting V.A. hospitals and shelters where large groups of men gather, and many of them are mothers who can’t find homeless shelters that accept kids.
Lambert’s job as the northeast Georgia ambassador for WVSJ is to help female veterans with any issues they face. Not long ago, she was struggling, too, having been a victim of domestic abuse during her time in the Air Force. She felt frustrated with the military’s response to her troubles and experienced symptoms of PTSD. “By the time I left, my anxiety level was so high that I would not let anybody touch me,” she tells the Gainesville Times. “I didn’t get any kind of help, and I was such a mess. I continued making bad choices.”
One poor decision many female veterans make is to fail to seek help that’s available to all veterans since that assistance is often geared toward men. “A man walks around and he’s wearing a veteran’s hat and that’s OK,” she says. “But if a women does it, she’s just wanting attention.”
So Lambert and the WVSJ reach out to female veterans — in person and through social media — offering them assistance, resources and camaraderie. Volunteers give fellow female veterans food, housing and help filling out paperwork and applying for benefits.
“(Female veterans) all have at some point the feeling that we can’t be the only one,” Lambert says. “We can’t be the only one going through this, whatever it may be.” And now with the help of WVSJ, more female vets are realizing that they aren’t.