By Syma Chowdhry
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – From training to homes, meals and even jobs, veterans centers help serve those in need, and their families.
Now here in Philadelphia a new veterans center is opening and it’s dedicated strictly for women.
Sitting comfortably in her own apartment, Ashley Cole can smile and breathe a sigh of relief.
It is a welcomed change for her.
After finishing a tour as a medical logistics technician with the U.S Air Force, Ashley was on the verge of being homeless.
She asked herself, “Where am I going to live? Where is the money? Where am I going to eat?”
The 25-year-old served between 2008 and 2011.
When she returned home, she had a job lined up but it fell through.
“The job didn’t fit for me because I suffer from anxiety and panic disorder that’s irritated from the military,” she said.
She turned to the Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service Center for help.
“Immediately they helped me. Immediately they put me in the programs to be able to receive housing,” she said.
Some veterans returning home face issues like homelessness and post-traumatic stress.
The Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service Center addresses those issues, but with a new women’s center they are focusing on the needs of female veterans and their families.
Aronda Smith, the center’s coordinator, explained, “One of the main importance is it is a private area where they can meet ourselves and sometimes we discuss gender specific things related to being a female veterans.”
One of those topics includes sexual abuse in the military. “We also have female veterans that have experienced military sexual trauma while they were in service,” Smith said. It also gives them a comfortable secure place for them to come.”
For Ashley, the center is a warm inviting place full of people who can relate to her, and that is something she appreciates.
She is a college student studying project management, now that she has the proper support.
“We have more women’s services that are specifically for us to help us through transitioning and life,” Cole said.
About 200 female veterans have already registered with the center. Officials expect that number to go up.
The Women Veterans Center is accepting donations.
For more information on how you can help, log on to: http://www.pvmsec.org/