By: Chelsea Carpenter
When you think of people that desperately need donations of bras, menstrual products, and hygiene items, who is the first group you think of? You probably don’t think of United States’ women veterans, do you?
Currently, about 10% of the current veteran population are women. From 2000 to 2015, the number of women veterans treated at VA centers tripled , and moving forward, the number of women and folks in the military is only expected to increase.
According to the February 2017 Women Veterans Report, “The total population of women Veterans is expected to increase at an average rate of about 18,000 women per year for the next 10 years.” However, many hospitals and centers that support our veterans haven’t even been able to fully adjust to the current demographic yet, let alone start preparing for the future. Clearly, the military still has some work to do when it comes to gender equality, and is still learning how to support its women. Fortunately, though, this is where I Support the Girls can help.
Honoring Our Women Veterans
In honor of Veteran’s Day 2020, I Support the Girls D.C. hopped in the Vangina and took a donation of hygiene items, bras, and undies to the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington D.C. In total, 110 bras, 110 undies, 5,000 wipes, 50 dental hygiene items, 100 hair items, 200 lotions, and 125 pens were donated.
A Hidden Need
The VA Hospital does not usually receive donations specifically for women, and cannot provide intimate care and personal hygiene items. I Support the Girls is helping to fill that gap by regularly donating products to over two dozen organizations serving veterans, such as the Women’s Veterans Center in Philadelphia and the National Association of Black Veterans in Washington, DC.
Gloria Hairston, Director of Public Affairs at the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs, told I Support the Girls how much these donations mean to the veterans:
“Our female veteran population is the fastest growing population of veterans that we’re seeing enroll for care at the medical centers. Having gender specific items means a lot, especially [since they] are already a vulnerable population of veteran. When you’re dealing with transition in life…having some resources available to you when you move into your new home, even if it [just] means clothing…and personal hygiene products, it means a lot.”
The VA included the donated items in “Comfort Kits” that were given to homeless veterans in the hospital, and distributed them to about 75 homeless women veterans at their annual Winterhaven Stand Down.
Making A Difference…One Veteran at a Time
In 2019 it was estimated that around 37,000 veterans were homeless across the United States— about 3,700 of them were probably women. At the Winterhaven Stand Down, among many other services and assistance, veterans are provided with health care assessments, education and employment counseling, and immunizations— they also receive personal care items, warm clothing, boots, hair cuts, and warm meals.
I Support the Girls was honored to support our women veterans with this donation, and we thank them for their service.