Are all job programs created equal?

The Southern Poverty Law Center has filed a sexual descrimination suit against Asheville-Buncombe Community Christian Ministry (ABCCM) of Asheville, North Carolina.  The SPLC  alleges that women veterans were given unequal access to job training classes, as well as, resident support in comparison to men.

The SPLC filed the complaint on behalf of Bagby, an Army veteran, and other female veterans. It details how female veterans are excluded from job training and educational programs provided to male veterans that include truck driving and culinary arts skills. Women have access to classes such as knitting, art therapy, yoga, meditation, how to declutter your room, self-esteem and Bible study, according to the filing.

We’ll have yet to see what the findings will determine. However, as been noted here on this site, and if one is paying attention (quietly as I have) you’re aware that the number of homelessness among women veterans has doubled since 2006.  Some estimates indicate more than 14,000  women veterans are homeless and unemployed.  Veterans are returning home to the worst economy since the great depression, and as more women leave the military, the capacity of social service organizations to manage the acute needs of women veterans languishes.  On the surface, ACCM’s response to the needs of women vets seems to fail to take into account job training for employment rather than fixed, antiquated gender roles one would associate with housewives. Shelters for women vets (with/without children), counseling, and certainly job training of substance (green jobs, construction, believe it or not, women can be amazing construction managers). The sexual bias claim by SPLC is more an indicator to me that perhaps the problem in providing support to women vets is because the social service net is woefully disconnected to match resources to them. We didn’t plan to have this problem, women in combat for nearly ten years, we’re just starting to catch up. 

SYREETA MCFADDEN is a Brooklyn based writer, photographer and adjunct professor of English. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Guardian, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, Religion Dispatches and Storyscape Journal. She is the managing editor of the online literary magazine, Union Station, and a co-curator of Poets in Unexpected Places. You can follow her on Twitter @reetamac.

Syreeta McFadden is a contributing opinion writer for The Guardian US and an editor of Union Station Magazine.

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