by: Greg Suskin Updated:
YORK COUNTY, S.C. - Mary Pace, 62, won't stop until women veterans who need a roof over their head, will have one.
Pace's late husband served three tours of duty in Vietnam.
She had seen the impact of post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction and depression that returning soldiers often face.
Pace said those coming home from military service need all the help America can give them.
For more than a decade she has been outspoken about a need for a home for women veterans. On this Memorial Day weekend, she's still fighting for her cause.
"For our women veterans, I don't want to see them like some Vietnam veterans, sleeping in cardboard boxes," Pace said.
Estimates are that there are dozens of homeless female veterans in South Carolina.
Last summer she thought she had found a home for them on Church Street in Chester and it was donated to her cause.
She had already had the fire department check it over and had crews at the ready for renovations.
But then the owner experienced personal issues and could no longer give her the house.
"The hardest thing I ever did was to take those keys back" Pace said. "Because I felt like that's where god wanted me to have it."
She persevered. She's since been before elected leaders in the city of York, Rock Hill and York County looking for support.
She's received positive feedback from them all.
York Mayor Eddie Lee said if anyone will address this important issue, it's Pace.
"She's the type of person who never quits and she is to be commended to carrying on with this battle," Lee said
Pace told Channel 9 she wants to honor woman veterans by offering a hand of help, once they return home. That means helping them learn a skill, get their benefits and for some, have a place to stay.
"The only way you can fix something that you don't like is to stand up for it," she said.
After the loss of the home in Chester, Pace has reapplied for federal nonprofit status for her organization.
Once that is approved she can begin to seek donations and hopefully partner with local governments.
She fully expects to move forward this summer and begin looking for another house likely in Rock Hill or York County.