HAMPTON, Va. - According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, Virginia is home to more than 100,000 female veterans - many of whom, after serving their time, have fallen on hard times.
"The women veteran population in our area is the most under-served population," said Vernissa Thomas with West End Baptist Church.
That's why Vernissa Thomas and her husband, Pastor Paul Thomas, decided they needed to step up and help, buying a home across the street from their congregation. No stranger to the military, Pastor Thomas served 24 years in the Navy, and Vernissa is a Reservist.
"When the last people moved out and it was empty, there were people here doing drugs and squatting," said Vernissa.
So, they decided to give it a facelift and have been doing so over the past five weeks.
"It's going to be be a place they can be safe and they can unwind and get back into the groove of things," said Vernissa.
They are calling the five-bedroom home the Victory House - a soft spot homeless female veterans can land on their way to a better future.
"This is what someone would come in to. They will have linens, towels, washcloths - everything they need to start living," she stated.
The Thomases' plan to charge minimal rent and supply the home with internet, cable, security and even food in the fridge.
"The primary goal of our ministry is to turn lives around to help them victoriously, and we cannot live victoriously if we are having issues with our basic needs," said Pastor Paul.
The house is also directly across the street from the West End Baptist Church. Women can literally walk across the street to take classes, get help finding work and even get rides to doctor's appointments.
"To be able to help these women in a place that was once used for unpleasant things is just amazing," said Vernissa.
The Victory House plans to open its doors December 1.
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