Woman coming to the aid of homeless female veterans

FAYETTEVILLE However, a Fayetteville woman is trying to change that by renovating a house that some of the female vets can call home.

Steps and Stages Director Barbara Marshall was an officer in the Navy. She was a chaplain who counseled women then and continues to make a difference in their lives now.

"Yeah, there was a couple who were in there who have gone from various homeless shelters and stayed as long as they could and they spent the night at my house," she said. "Good fresh shower, something to eat, a place to lay their heads, a safe place."

Lakeva Keel is one of those women. She was a supply specialist in the Army Reserve. When Keel got out of the service, was divorced and then found herself on the street.

"So I ended up in a battered woman's shelter," Keel said. "And then my time was up there and I ended up various other places trying to find a place to sleep at night."

Marshall is now fixing up a house on Langdon Street and turning it into a shelter to help homeless female veterans like Keel.

When renovations are finished, they'll be able to accommodate about a half dozen veterans.

But Marshall says the need overall is much greater than that. She says the number of female veterans who are sleeping on the streets in Fayetteville is astronomical.

"I'd say that on a normal night there are at least 200 to 300 women veterans, who either couch surfing, sleeping on the streets or just not certain on where they're going to lay their heads," Marshall said.

In the meantime, the former naval chaplain is asking the community to help renovate the home, furnish a room, or make a donation to help with the project.

Marshall is also putting together a Women Veterans Stand Down on Nov. 5 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 2215 Murchison Road, to help female veterans get back on their feet.

The event will include information on PTSD, health screenings, VA benefits and health care, the new GI bill, child care, vocational rehab, financial literacy and more. To learn more about the event call (910) 977-2303 or (910) 488-1399.

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