A San Marcos organization is giving female homeless veterans a second chance at life.
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Dr. Lawrence and Vanessa Wood founded Fan of the Feather and recently opened a transitional home to help struggling women veterans.
Darcell Crews served in the Army Reserves for a decade. Her service brought the San Diego native all over the country.
"My first assignment was a medical surgical ward in Fort Collins, Colorado," Crews said.
Crews wanted to be a nurse, but early on, she said she experienced Military Sexual Trauma (MST) in the form of persistent sexual harassment from her superiors. Crews said back in the late 1980s, she had nowhere to turn.
"We didn't have resources available or ombudsmen... people that women could talk to while in the service," said Crews.
Ultimately, Crews was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. She recently found herself homeless and staying in an emergency shelter after housing management forced her to leave the Spring Valley apartment she shared with her mother.
"I was nervous and I experienced great anxiety not knowing one day to the next where I would be living," she said.
She was referred to a new transitional home in San Marcos. The founders of Fan of the Feather organization bought the home with their own money to give a deserving group of women a second chance at life.
Fan of the Feather provides a safe home, complete with furnished rooms, Internet access and counseling. The home can house up to seven women.
"Our program is designed to get them on their feet [and] functioning members of the society," said Vanessa Wood, the cofounder and CEO of Fan of the Feather.
Wood said not all homeless veterans suffer from substance abuse, which is a common stereotype. According to the Department of Veterans' Affairs, one in five women in the military have experienced MST.
"You can't work, you can't sleep, you can't do all those things
I can see how you could easily find yourself on the streets," Wood.
Crews said she is excited for her future and is hoping to help other women.
To learn more about the organization, visit www.fanofthefeather.org
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