© Mary F. Calvert – Sexual Assault in America’s Military 06

Homeless veteran Darlene Matthews has been living in her car for over two years while she waits for a housing voucher from the VA. She joined the US Army in 1976 and was sent to Fort McLellan, Alabama. “I was going to join this all women’s army and there would be no sexual problems but I joined and there were sexual problems.” She was beyond horrified when she discovered that it wasn’t a safe place and instead full of “illegal punishments and all this sexual stuff. The whole atmosphere was abusive.” Her life spiraled down after she got out of the military and found herself very depressed. She joined the military to escape a chaotic abusive home life and was forced back into it when she was discharged. She has been fighting with the VA for benefits including housing vouchers but has been living in her car in the parking lot of a mortuary next to a graveyard. “It’s like being in a fun house and every door gets slammed in your face every time you try to leave. I feel like giving up sometimes, and nobody would care.”

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