Veterans Affairs grants more cash for veterans as women fall through the cracks


According to Canada’s Department of National Defense (DND) as of 2022, just over 16 per cent of Canadian Armed Forces members were women.

That includes both the regular force and reserves.

But according to associate professor Dr. Deborah Da Costa, a scientist in McGill University’s Department of Medicine, women who have served represent a disproportionate number of the homeless veteran population.

“I was shocked when I was writing this study to see that, really, we have very little evidence-based research in the Canadian context,” she declared.

Women represent thirty per cent of veterans who use shelters, she said, and they tend to be younger and more vulnerable.

“As veteran women working with the majority males, the kind of discrimination and harassment that they experience on a daily basis, you have to be hard as nails,” she pointed out.

Da Costa stressed that women are more at risk for homelessness, depression and PTSD.

She is about to launch a three-year study across Canada into the problem.

‘I hope to identify factors that are unique to women in the Canadian context,” she told Global News, “so that we can better help women, promote their mental health.”

Her team just received a $250,000 grant from the federal government for her study, one of a number of organizations across the country serving homeless veterans to get funding.

“It’s about making sure organizations have financial assistance to make sure veterans and their families have a better life, that they’re integrated back into society,” explained veterans affairs minister Lawrence MacAulay during a press conference at the Old Brewery Mission in Montreal Wednesday to announce a $6-million disbursement.

According to Old Brewery Mission spokesperson Marie-Pier Therrien, about six per cent of the 4,000 people who use shelters nightly in Montreal once served in the military and have unique needs.

“We know that it’s a clientele that’s been dealing with multiple traumas in their life, either mental health, addiction, PTSD,” she noted.

Her organization got $45,000 for its Sentinal program for veterans, launched in 2017.

“It’s a transversal program as we like to say,” she explained, “where we take them from the street to be rehoused.”

With the new cash Therrien said they can now expand the program. It currently serves 27 clients, including one woman.

With Da Costa’s study, the hope is to serve even more women who may have fallen through the cracks.

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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