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Operation Home Front helps women veterans heal

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The reasons that women veterans might need such a place are wide-ranging. A common one is domestic strife: That was the case for McPaul, who turned to alcohol and cocaine "to kill the pain" after an unexpected divorce. In other cases, women need help with the physical and emotional stress of having served on the front lines in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Another potential factor: Sexual abuse in the military is on the rise. According to a Defense Department report in March, such incidents had increased by 11 percent over the previous year, and 87 percent of the victims were female.

Operation Home Front is designed to help female vets surmount their problems – through specialist counseling, rehabilitation services, and health and psychological support.

"In terms of their treatment needs, it's completely individualized," Mr. Dixon says. "Some may be [there] 60 to 90 days. Some may be involved in treatment for a year."

The housing facility is expected to open around next spring and will include seven two-bedroom residential units, plus common living and dining areas.

A key component of the program is room for the children.

"The motivation and engagement of women is difficult if the children are elsewhere," says Dixon. "If they are with her, that helps keep her in treatment. And it's important for the child because the bonding and attachment and all those critical nurturing things ... aren't being broken."

The children – generally expected to be under 5 years old – will share their mothers' quarters. Residents will be encouraged to help look after one another's kids, but the nine-strong staff will also include qualified child-care providers.

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