Every few weeks a story breaks into the news about homeless veterans. As though our collective consciousness can’t really handle a frequency much greater than that. This week, it’s a story of Kenya Smith, who served in the Navy for 14 years. Smith lost her home to foreclosure recently and joins the 14% of the population in the US that is unemployed.
A former lieutenant and medical service corps officer, Kenya Smith first enlisted right after college. She earned two master’s degrees, deployed to Iraq and worked in healthcare and administration. She thought this experience would benefit her upon her re-entry into civilian life. As it turns out, it did not.
“I ran projects. I was an HR manager. I was a logistics manager,” she said. Nevertheless, two years after leaving the military she’s an unemployed single mother with two teenage children. In September she lost her home to foreclosure and is currently living in transitional housing.
Smith, a former lieutenant and medical service corps officer, first enlisted right after college but by the time she left had earned two master’s degrees, deployed to Iraq and racked up substantial experience in healthcare and administration — experience she thought would impress potential civilian employers.
“I ran projects. I was an HR manager. I was a logistics manager,” she said. But despite all that, Smith now is unemployed — two years after leaving the military. A single mother with two teenage children, she lost her home to foreclosure in September and is currently living in transitional housing.
Watch her story here.
What this kind of heartbreaking story shows me is that our economic structure really can’t withstand the kind of assault it’s faced as a result of corporate mismanagement and greed without spilling into every other element of society. Our veterans, who we purport to hold in the highest regard are victims of this economic structure and there isn’t enough help for them (or anyone else either, really). Also, notably, the gender gap in regards to the general workforce population permeates both military and civilian life in which women face additional challenges in promoting their skills and securing work that matches their qualifications.