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Home for female veterans forced to close

PHOENIX – Six months after opening a special section for women veterans at a Phoenix homeless shelter, it’s being forced to close.

“We can’t be in a potential crisis every month to make sure we keep our doors open,” said Terry Araman, MANA House director. “We have rent we have to pay on a monthly basis, we have salaries we have to pay on a monthly basis.”

Araman said every month has been a struggle. So, for now, they’re closing the area designed to house and help 16 women veterans.

“They’re experiencing a lot of the same kind of trauma (as men) PTSD, traumatic brain injury,” said Araman. “The other issue that’s very prominent and we’re very aware of among homeless women veterans is MST, military sexual trauma. MST can range from sexual harassment to rape and everything in between.”

Araman said the military systems for reporting and dealing with MST are not very good and it’s another reason female veterans should have a safe, stable place where they feel supported. That place will not be MANA House — at least not until they secure sustainable funding, estimated to be about $200,000 a year.

Since opening the special section in March, Araman said they have served 23 women. As they struggled with funding, MANA capped the space at eight and started looking for alternative shelters. By the end of September, the remaining five women will move out. MANA House will continue serving male veterans and Araman said he will continue searching for long-term funding.