Risk Factors for Homelessness among Women U.S. Military Veterans

Dichter, M. E., Wagner, C., Borrero, S., Broyles, L., & Montgomery, A. E. (2017). Intimate partner violence, unhealthy alcohol use, and housing instability among women veterans in the Veterans Health Administration.  Psychological Services, 14 (2), 246-249.

According to Dichter, Wagner, Borrero, Broyles, and Montgomery (2017), the rate of homelessness among female veterans is higher than for their male counterparts or for female or male nonveterans. In response to the lack of data available on the risk factors contributing to female veteran homelessness, these authors surveyed 554 women receiving care from the Veterans Health Administration using measures of housing instability, intimate partner violence, and alcohol use. Results indicated that the odds of homelessness were more than two times greater for women who reported experiencing intimate partner violence during the previous year. Contrary to earlier research, they found no significant relationship between problematic alcohol use and housing instability. The authors suggested that intimate partner violence increases the risk of homelessness both directly (through separation from the abusive partner) and indirectly (through mental health conditions and changes in financial and social well-being). They suggest that this information will allow those involved in veterans’ health services to identify women veterans at increased risk of homelessness and to then develop programs to provide appropriate assistance with safety, housing, and mental health needs.

Making Connections

Intimate partner violence
Maslow’s hierarchy
Mental health
Social support

Media Supplement

The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans details the specific challenges of homeless female veterans and some of the programs developed in response.

This CNN News clip describes the work of Jaspen Boothe, a “CNN Hero” who founded an organization to assist female veterans. (1 min 58 sec)