March 4, 2017 2:36 pm
Updated: March 8, 2017 5:12 pm

VETS Canada looking to help female veterans

Volunteers with VETS Canada walk the streets of Halifax in search of homeless female veterans.

Cory McGraw/Global News
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VETS Canada held a national event on Saturday aimed at raising awareness of female veterans from coast-to-coast.

“In Her Boots” saw volunteer teams walk the streets of cities across the country looking for homeless or in-crisis female veterans.

“When we envision veterans, many of us think of men,” said Debbie Lowther, co-founder of VETS Canada in a news release.

“In reality, women make up a significant percentage of the veteran population, and the number of female veterans living homeless/in-crisis appears to be on the rise.”

READ: ‘Self-stigma’ remains a barrier for military mental health: psychiatrist

Volunteers with the non-profit organization also visited both women’s and family shelters throughout the country.

In Halifax, Lowther helped to donate personal care items, gift cards and cash to a local shelter.

“The big thing is to raise awareness but we do know that there are often things that shelters are lacking and we basically asked what are some of the things that they need and we want to drop them off and just let them know who we are in the event that they do have female veterans in their locations, that we can be a resource for them,” Lowther told Global News.

MORE: Invisible Wounds; Canadian soldiers have officially left Afghanistan. But for many men and women in the Canadian Forces, an invisible war still rages.

In 2015, VETS Canada said six per cent of the in-crisis veterans supported by the organization were female. Last year, that number jumped to 16 per cent.

Many of these female veterans that were assisted by VETS Canada were single mothers.

“We as a country need to recognize that female veteran homelessness is a significant issue, and that each and every one of us can play a role in helping homeless female and male veterans alike,” said Lowther.

Since 2010, VETS Canada has helped over 1,400 veterans across the country.

READ MORE: Ottawa not moving fast enough to prevent suicides among Canada’s soldiers, veterans: advocates

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