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WNC woman wages war on homelessness among female veterans

Our Person of the Week faced a battle that once seemed to have no end in sight. Because of that experience, Alyce Knaflich, a veteran, has taken on a cause to help women who need roofs over their heads. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Our Person of the Week faced a battle that once seemed to have no end in sight. Because of that experience, Alyce Knaflich, a veteran, has taken on a cause to help women who need roofs over their heads.

Knaflich is the driving force behind an ambitious project to tackle homelessness among female veterans, a nationwide problem that is also prevalent in the mountains.

"Well, my passion is because I see homeless women veterans are least served in the state and in the country," Knaflich said.

RELATED | New program for homeless women vets is first of its kind in NC

Recognizing the need in North Carolina, she sees big possibilities in an old assisted living facility.

The Aura Home for Women Veterans is a house for female veterans transitioning out of homelessness in Buncombe, Henderson and Haywood counties.

"This is the six bedrooms I want to house the women in," Knaflich said, walking down a hallway.

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Knaflich hopes Aura Home can help a dozen women find a path to independence. She started a nonprofit and has been working on the shelter idea for five years.

"She's the most dedicated person on this earth, as far as women veterans. She's gone out and broken through a lot of different doors," board member and fellow veteran Michele Bretz said of Knaflich.

Bretz understands homelessness can happen to anyone. But, perhaps, no one knows more about homelessness than Knaflich.

"Partly because I was homeless almost 10 years, and I had a hard road," Knaflich said, the memories coming back.

"My last promotion to staff sergeant," she said, holding up a photo.

"Here's where I was in basic training in Alabama, taking a break on my foot locker," she said holding up another.

RELATED | Aura Home for Women Veterans opens in Asheville

After two decades in the military, Knaflich found herself in what seemed to be a losing battle. She was diagnosed with PTSD and saw few signs of hope.

"Well, every day you're looking for where you're going to eat and where you're going to sleep," Knaflich said.

She found her way back and hopes this facility in Hendersonville gives women who served America a beacon of hope.

"Yes, there's a way out," Knaflich said. "You have to be persistent and find the resources to help you."

She hopes Aura Home is one of those resources. Even the name is significant - Aura, for a place that helps women in the darkest times.

"Let's end this once and for all. Let's start with this house and make this the model for the rest of the country," Bretz said.

Click here to learn more about Aura Home.

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