“But Thank You For Your Service”
It’s a statement many women veterans in need have come to dread hearing. Unfortunately, this all-to-common phrase usually follows being told that in some way her needs just cannot be met. Sometimes it is not having enough “qualified service”. Other times it is not having the expected disability requirement. And more often it is simply not having space to support her. The lack of supportive resources for women veterans can be drilled down to two main barriers: access and availability.
BattleBetty Foundation is working to remove those barriers. With a mission focused on women veterans BattleBetty makes sure that no woman is every turned away for support because of the component she served in, her character of discharge, or if she has a VA rated disability. BattleBetty’s founder DeAndria L. Hardy said, “The hardest part about being in need wasn’t the need. It was being told over and over again that my service didn’t matter enough for someone to help me. When I was able to help someone else, I wanted to do my best to make sure no other sister-veteran felt that way”
Since August 2018 BattleBetty Foundation has been working to increase the availability of resources for women veterans. The organization started by participating in local homeless standdowns hosted in the spring and fall by providing hygiene kits. After the standdown, BattleBetty began incorporating “street outreach” and providing supplies to women veterans in need who were not capable of attending standdowns or crowds.
And just over two years later BattleBetty continued to grow by adding South Carolina’s first Women Veteran Resource Center in early 2021. The Center provides a 90-day Shelter program along with additional resources of a Clothes Closet and Essentials Gear Locker. But it was during their continued “street outreach” efforts that BattleBetty met Kory, a 50-year-old Army veteran, living in a wooded encampment in Greenville. She was a chronically homeless veteran who struggled with social interactions, substance abuse, and maintaining her finances to remain sheltered.
Kory had a confluence of barriers that limited her access and availability to needed resources. Her struggles were made all the more dire by being unsheltered during the winter. “It doesn’t matter where she is or how long she’s been out [of the military]. No woman should ever feel like she doesn’t deserve help.”, Hardy said. For Kory that meant providing her with proper cold weather rated sleeping bag, waterproof boots, clothes, other clothing items and weekly food drops. Although the barriers presented were unique the mission for BattleBetty was the same, to remove the immediate barriers that prevented safety and stability for that veteran.
And though it took some time, through a major collaborative effort, as of August 2022 Kory was finally permanently housed!
Did You Know?
- Since initiating its Shelter program BattleBetty has provided over 330 nights of warm, safe shelter
- According to the VA, the 10 Counties of the Upstate are home to 8600+ women veterans
- In a year, 13-15% of women veterans experience some form of homelessness
- Across the whole Upstate there are less than 10 women only/women and children dedicated homeless shelters (that are not add-ons or housed with a men’s program)
- $750 helps cover the cost of a 30-day shelter stay, meals, transportation, clothing, and case management costs that assist women veterans on the road to permanent housing placement
Like Kory, there are many women veterans that are not quite ready to be housed. Some veterans need more support than what a 90-day program or basic outreach can offer. They need an additional bridge to help get them from homelessness to permanency. Hardy’s goal is to grow into a Shelter to Transitional Housing step-up program. Hardy says, “Providing long term support gives veterans their best chance at achieving lasting stability.” This aim is to have a built-in continuity pathway for women who need additional supportive services.
The first steps to bring this program, Heroine’s Home, to fruition have already been taken. We are very excited to continue bring supportive service to women veterans of the Upstate.
BattleBetty Foundation will host Beyond the Battle 5K from November 6th-Novemeber 12th, 2022. This marks the 3rd year of the virtual 5K fundraiser with proceeds going to benefit homeless women veterans. You can ruck, run, or walk from wherever you are!
Heroine’s Home is an ongoing project to bring a first-of-its-kind transitional housing program for women veterans to the Upstate. Through a collaborative partnership with the City of Spartanburg we were granted permission of use of a vacant lot to build the home. From site prep to materials to finishing landscaping, we are looking for motivated patriotic philanthropic partners to make this resource a reality.
Be a Hero’s Hero by Supporting Our Mission
Become a partner or help support local women veterans and provide resources for she-roes still in need.
PO Box 277
Fairforest, SC 29336
Charity EIN: 83-2015836