First lady: Vets face 'unacceptable' job barriers (updated)

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The difficulties that military veterans face securing jobs are "unacceptable" and the notion of a veteran mired in homelessness should "horrify all of us," Michelle Obama said Wednesday in Los Angeles.

The first lady spoke to the crowd of 900 business, government and community leaders gathered for the United Way's Unite for Veterans Summit, which focused on ending homelessness and improving job prospects for military veterans.

"After everything they have done for us, the idea that any of our veterans are spending months or even years struggling to find a job is unacceptable," she said.

The first lady also said that ongoing work in Los Angeles at the local, state and federal level was essential to the administration's recently announced goal of eliminating veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.

"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 and businesses around this issue, then this problem becomes imminently solvable," Obama said.

Veteran homelessness in Los Angeles has dropped 24 percent over the last two years, according to United Way President and CEO Elise Buik.

Buik told KPCC that is largely because of an increase in the number of federal housing vouchers given to veterans in L.A. And even though the problem of veteran homelessness in the city may seem intractable, Buik concurred with the first lady, saying that solving it is "do-able." 

Obama first announced the initiative, called the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, in June. You can watch her speech from that event below:

Michelle Obama on Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness

"I think we’re really on track to tackle this. We weren’t originally planning to do this by 2015. We planned to do it by 2017," Buik said.

Buik said the United Way and L.A. Chamber of Commerce joined forces in 2010 to launch an effort they call "Home for Good" to fight veteran homelessness and find jobs for returning vets. 

The comments from Buik and Obama come the same day that a top federal official acknowledged scandals at hospitals serving veterans have undermined trust in the agency that provides them health care.

Obama is on a two-day swing through the city that includes a political fundraiser at the home of an HBO executive. Obama was also scheduled to deliver remarks at the Grammy Museum's Jane Ortner Education Award Luncheon. This year's event will honor Southern California-based educator Sunshine Cavalluzzi and Grammy-nominated recording artist Janelle Monae.

This story has been  updated.

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