The Transylvania Times -

At The Next AAUW Meeting: Caring For Military Veterans


January 4, 2018

Pisgah Legal Services will be giving a presentation on the plight and problems of our military veterans and what is involved in caring for them at the next AAUW meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 9, at noon at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd across from Ingles. The public is invited to attend and join AAUW members who will be bringing their own box lunches at 11:45 a.m. Refreshments will be served.

For over 35 years Pisgah Legal Services has fought to bring justice to the most vulnerable people in Western North Carolina.

The scope of what they do – particularly in regard to preventing homelessness, accessing health care and securing essential benefits – has positioned them to be a critical link in the care of military veterans in our area.

Homelessness is a major concern among veterans. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans estimates that there are 50,000 homeless veterans on any given night with another 1.4 million at risk of becoming homeless nationwide. These vets (about 8 percent-9 percent who are female) served in all wars from World War II, Korea and Vietnam to military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Veterans’ groups report a host of contributing factors, including PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) strongly linked to undiagnosed and under-diagnosed and untreated traumatic brain injury (TBI). These conditions are also often linked to substance abuse, unemployment due to a lack both of education and of transferrable skills from the military. All of these factors are further compounded by a lack of access to timely and needed health care, especially mental health care so critical in treating PTSD. That there is such a stigma to any type of mental health care complicates the situation further.

In terms of serving and advocating for vulnerable population segments, the primary mission of Pisgah Legal Services, there could hardly be a more at-risk segment than veterans. Western North Carolina is a particularly difficult area because of the lack of affordable housing.

The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans states, “The most effective programs for homeless and at-risk veterans are community-based, nonprofit groups.”

This is why Pisgah Legal Services is such an essential element in caring for veterans. Being able to partner with “veterans helping veterans” groups boosts effectiveness according to the coalition. Partnership is a hallmark of PLS’s service approach.

AAUW members will be welcoming Bess Newton, senior development officer, and staff attorney Madeline McKeller Offen, a native of Brevard, to learn more about their organization’s work in caring for military veterans. Both speakers are deeply committed to helping the most vulnerable segments of our population and addressing their needs.

AAUW’s mission is to promote equity for all women and girls through advocacy, philanthropy, education and research. The primary fund raising activity of the branch is the annual book sale held in June at Brevard College’s Boshamer Gym. For anyone wanting to make a large book donation at any time this year, contact either Raoul Gagne at [email protected] or call (828) 877-2588 or Pinkie Byrd at [email protected] or call (828) 885-5311 to have AAUW members come by and pick up your books. The yellow book collection boxes go out to area businesses in February.

Proceeds from the book sale are used to fund scholarships for Transylvania County girls and young women to attend Brevard College, Blue Ridge Community College, Green River Preserve Camp as well as Clemson University’s WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) program. The branch takes great pride in the fact that their book sale is a community-driven operation, with books coming from the community and scholarships going back to the community.

More information about the branch and its many activities is available on their website at For membership information, contact Maury Bandurraga (862-5984) or Leslie Chepenik (877-5721). The American Association of University Women is open to all graduates who hold a two-year associate degree (or equivalent) or higher degree from an accredited college or university.


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