A Phoenix center designed to help returning female veterans has been in business for more than a year and a half, but the biggest challenge still lies ahead.
Mary Ellen’s Place opened in May 2011 near Third Street and Hatcher Road in Phoenix with 15 furnished studio apartments to help U.S. military women reintegrate into civilian life.
It’s the only facility of its type in the state.
“It’s doing exactly what we wanted to do with getting women on their feet,” said Joan Sisco of Veterans First, the nonprofit behind Mary Ellen’s Place. “They’re able to get good jobs, move out and get their own apartments.”
The lack of affordable housing and jobs continues to be a problem for America’s returning veterans. Sisco said some of the women were homeless, or on the verge of homelessness.
“They were living in their cars or would’ve been living in their cars,” she said. “We came down and got them so they’d have a place to stay.”
Sisco said she has seen women coming back who are facing drug and alcohol abuse and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. With the planned troop drawdown in Afghanistan in 2014, she knows even tougher days are ahead.
“We have to be prepared for that,” Sisco said. “We’ve always felt the VA does what it can, but it’s the responsibility of this nation and nonprofits to step up.”
The next project on Sisco’s list is Sallie’s Place, which will provide affordable housing for female veterans with children. This project consists of eight two-bedroom apartments and is located just a few blocks from Mary Ellen’s Place.
After two tours of duty in Iraq, an army veteran found out that coming home again would be the biggest challenge of her life.
Kelly Schramm worked in an Army combat hospital in Iraq until 2006. She spent the next few years just getting by while going to school in Florida until she had a major depressive episode. She spent the next month in her apartment.
“I found myself without a place to live,” she said. “I did the couch surfing thing for a while. I was looking at homelessness and it was very scary.”
Schramm heard about Mary Ellen’s Place while attending a veterans retreat in Payson. It wasn’t long until she moved into Mary Ellen’s Place.
“A lot of the struggles I’ve had with PTSD have been isolating, not wanting to be around people,” she said. “Here there’s a lot of other women going through the same struggles.”
And when it comes to PTSD, Schramm said it’s more common than people believe.
“It is my personal opinion that if you go to war and come home and say yYou don’t have PTSD, nine times out 10, they’re in denial. It’s very prevalent.”
Schramm said she’s on the way back from reaching rock bottom because of Mary Ellen’s Place. She’d been close to living in her car. Now she’s attending Arizona State University with the hope of becoming a doctor.
“For someone with PTSD to keep it together for a 15-week semester is a big thing,” she said.
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas