Since June, the 29-year-old [Cherish Cornish] has lived on the fifth floor of a temporary housing facility run by Father Bill’s & MainSpring, a private nonprofit group in Brockton, Mass. Cornish lives in one of five rooms reserved for homeless female veterans. She’s struggling to make a life for herself after the military.
“When I joined the Army, I was barely 20 years old,” Cornish says with a Southern accent, a legacy of years growing up in Texas. “I come out, and I’m 23, and so I just kind of came of age in the military. I wind up on my own again in an apartment. It’s the first time I’ve had to pay rent since I was a teenager. It’s the first time I had to pay a light bill ”” pretty much ever ”” and all these responsibilities and budgeting and stuff that I’d really never had to deal with in the military.”
There are other complications. Cornish suffers from PTSD. It took the VA several years to diagnose her. Cornish believes her trauma stems from her service in Iraq. She was a transmission specialist working at isolated outposts monitoring and intercepting radio communications. Still, she thinks she lucked out, because often she’d just miss getting physically hurt.