First Lady Laments Plight of Homeless Veterans

Michelle Obama says one in 10 homeless vets lives in L.A.

By City News Service

The inability of veterans to find jobs is “unacceptable” in the United States, and the idea of even one veteran being homeless should “horrify all of us,” first lady Michelle Obama told a gathering of government and business leaders Wednesday in Century City.

Speaking at a Unite for Veterans summit aimed at finding ways to boost employment and end homelessness among veterans, Obama hailed efforts by local businesses and Mayor Eric Garcetti to tackle problems facing veterans. But she said more work is needed from all levels of society to end those problems.

“After everything they have done for us, the idea that any of our veterans are spending months or event years struggling to find a job is unacceptable. It’s unacceptable,” she told the crowd at the Century Plaza Hotel. “And the image of even one of these heroes sleeping out in the cold, huddled up next to an overpass, that should horrify all of us. Because that’s not who we are.

U.S. Veterans are among the homeless living on skid row.  (EGP photo by Jacqueline García)

U.S. Veterans are among the homeless living on skid row. (EGP photo by Jacqueline García)

“And the truth is we know that there are simple steps that we can take, whether that’s in business, government or in our communities, to prevent and solve these problems,” she said.

Obama, continuing a two-day swing through the Southland, noted that one out of every 10 homeless veterans in America lives in Los Angeles. But she hailed a commitment by Garcetti to end veteran homelessness by the end of next year.

“And I know that’s a big number, and make no mistake it is an aggressive goal,” she said. “But we have seen time and time again that if you break these numbers down, if you work on the ground with landlords to find open apartments, with developers to build new housing, if you rally community groups and congregations around this issue, then this problem becomes imminently solvable.”

She also hailed Garcetti’s 10,000 Strong initiative, aimed at finding jobs for 10,000 veterans by 2017.

“I really, really want to commend you for doing this the right way, because you’re not just talking about hiring these veterans, you’re talking about retaining them and giving them a chance to grow in the years ahead,” Obama said. “You’re including volunteers to work with veterans on their resumes, holding mock interviews. You’re focusing on good jobs, jobs in health care and entertainment, jobs in engineering, finance and so much more.”

After her speech, Obama mingled with the crowd, shaking hands and speaking with attendees at the Unite for Veterans Summit.

Mrs. Obama’s trip to Los Angeles also included a speech at the Grammy Museum’s Jane Ortner Education Award Luncheon and participation in a $5,000-a-plate Democratic National Committee fundraiser at the home of Michael Lombardo, HBO’s president of programming, and his partner, architect Sonny Ward.

President Barack Obama is scheduled to return to Los Angeles next week for a pair of fundraisers.

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July 17, 2014  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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