Shively Army Master Sergeant working for female veterans

Shively woman advocates for female veterans

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE)- One Shively woman knows first had want it means to struggle when someone comes back from serving their country. She was looking for help for female veterans. But when she didn’t find what she was looking for, she got to work.

Former Army Master Sergeant Jo Ann Orr said when people think about the Army, they see men’s faces. She wants to remind everyone women are present in the service community before, during and after they serve.

“How could I watch women veterans and not realize one day that could very well be me,” said Orr.

Orr’s eyes opened to a major issue when she bumped into a homeless female veteran on the streets.

“[The options were to] just like bring her to a homeless shelter,” Orr said. “I said, ‘she’s put in a little time she may deserve a little more than that’.”

Orr didn’t find more. She was looking for a homeless shelter that catered towards women who served.

“If you look at the system now all the way around, women are still close to the bottoms of the totem pole,” Orr said.

For the last four years Orr has been dedicated to moving women up.

“I know it’s something that’s on everyone’s mind," Orr said. “For me I guess they’re just moving too slow.

She personally started collecting clothes, purses and connecting women directly to the help they need.

Orr knows firsthand what men and women experience after the leaving the service.

“I was exposed to uranium cleaning out the ammo dump,” Orr said. “It left me with a sever allergy to metal.”

Orr did five tours in Korea from 1975 to 2000. She said she’s like every other veteran who has given their life to their country.

“Now we ask for a little bit of it back,” Orr said.

Orr said now there is a home for women at the Veteran’s Hospital. She plans on keeping her spot as the eyes and ears of women veteran needs.

“You don’t know what the future holds,” Orr said. “We’d just like to be able to knock on somebody’s door and say hey we need some help.”

Orr is working with Meals on Wheels, the Legal Aid Society and Metro United Way to make sure people get help in all departments.

The Kentucky Department of Veteran’s affairs reports there are currently 24,000 female veterans in Kentucky.

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