TAMPA - Josefina Reyes is a single working mom. She is also facing foreclosure.
She represents thousands of female veterans throughout out the nation just trying to put food on the table. "It is harder for females, especially if they have families leaving the military," Reyes said.
Josephina echoes U.S government surveys that found the unemployment rate for recent female vets is not only higher than the national average, but higher than their male counterparts.
The study also showed female veterans face more challenges, including child care and dealing with a VA system not used to women coming out of the service.
"I think there should be more programs to support women and help them out," Reyes said.
In a bit of irony, Reyes is in a position to help. Tampa Crossroads, a non-profit that helps veterans, hired her just a month ago. It gave Reyes a fighting chance. She gave this country three years as patrol supply specialist and said she worked just as hard as the males.
"So we put our bodies into a lot of stress, to come out of that and not to be recognized or acknowledged that we can do this work. It is a slap in the face," Reyes said.
Frustrations have been heard from as high as the chief executive officer. President Obama signed a bill on Monday giving tax credits to companies that hire out of work veterans.
And next week, here in the bay area, the Hillsborough County Commission is holding a special forum designed to help and find solutions for female veterans coming home.
Reyes will be there and plans to tell city leaders how much help these women need. Seventy percent of the calls she takes are from female veterans.
"If there were no veterans out there fighting for your freedom, and to keep things intact in your country, why can't you support them?" Reyes asked.
In her new role, Josefina said she not only got a lucky break, she now has the ability to help so many other women who have walked in her shoes.
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