Woman veterans want 'equal services,' not 'special consideration'

Local women veterans, out of a job and facing major obstacles when they come home.

New research from Northeast Florida Women Veterans shows some of our bravest women are struggling just to pay the bills.

The study surveyed 1,088 women veterans in Northeast Florida. The research shows the most prevalent barrier was employment related:

  • 29 percent of women veterans who participated in the study are having difficulty finding suitable jobs.
  • 26 percent are struggling to pay the bills.
  • 22 percent are having trouble finding adequate childcare while they work.

Valerie Daughtry, a Navy Veteran, said she recently escaped an abusive relationship and moved to Jacksonville. But she found starting over has been an uphill battle. She said no one is hiring her and the skills she picked up in the military haven’t helped secure a civilian job. Plus she’s dealing with depression and PTSD.

She spent many nights in shelters and sleeping in a van with her 8-year-old son.

“We know where some of the best hotels are because we slept in the van in the parking lot. And you just look like you’re a guest. If you’re real clean and you’re real quiet and don’t bother people, they let you eat at the buffet,” said Daughtry.

Daughtry has gotten a lot of help from agencies like Northeast Florida Women Veterans, but she’s desperate for stability.

“I’ve got my sailors back, that sailor has another sailor's back and we are all in it together. But when we come back, the community is broken,” said Daughtry.

NFWV’s President said the research show now is the time to act.

“There is still a lot of work to be done. Women veterans are not asking for a hand-out or special consideration, it is about receiving equal services and unique services to their needs,” said Deloris Quaranta CEO of NFWV.

As for Daugtry, she spends time volunteering and searching for her next big break. She won’t stop until she’s able to support her family on her own.

“The mission is to be able to pay for my own housing. The mission is for my son to be happy and smile one day,” said Daughtry.

A statement sent by Navy Public Affairs Officer Bill Austin said:

"At Naval Station Mayport, we have a robust transition assistance program at our Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) where we give Sailors transitioning out of Naval service the tools they we need to smoothly transition into the civilian sector. Additionally, FFSC offers a wide variety of services to the service member and their families that include financial counseling.
"Each and every service provided at the center is at no cost to the service member or family member."

An advisory team is looking over the study and will come up with some solutions. To get involved with  Northeast Florida Women Veterans visit its website www.forwomenvets.org.