Michelle Obama Talks Veteran Homelessness, Fundraises in L.A.

Michelle Obama Talks Veteran Homelessness, Fundraises in L.A.

LOS ANGELES–First Lady Michelle Obama and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke to a crowd of business owners and civil activists about the issue of veteran homelessness at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on Wednesday morning. 

“We are here today to find concrete opportunities, to get past the rhetoric to get results,” Garcetti said in his introductory remarks. “L.A. is a national leader in so many ways: we’ve got the most trade coming through our ports, the most visitors… but we’re also a leader in some bad ways. We’ve got more homeless veterans than anywhere in America.”

Before introducing the First Lady, Garcetti talked about a new initiative called Homefront L.A., an effort to end veteran homelessness in the city by the end of 2015. As part of this effort, the mayor cited the “10,000 Jobs Mission,” in which 160 business leaders in Los Angeles have committed to hiring 10,000 veterans by 2017. 

The mayor then introduced Michelle Obama, who he described as “one of our brightest and best,” and “rightfully the most popular person in America.”

“I have had a number of incredible opportunities as First Lady,” Obama began. “Right at the top of the list is the time I’ve spent with veterans, servicemen, and their families. I have been blown away by their stories, blown away by their courage, dedication, and commitment to excellence.”

“When these men and women come home, they’ve got the skills any company in America should want,” she continued. “But too often, the transition back to civilian life presents obstacles.”

To help address the problems veterans face, Obama said “the administration is cutting red tape across agencies. Even in the face of difficult economic times, we’ve seen the rate of veteran homelessness fall 24 percent under this President.”

The First Lady applauded the Home For Good initiative, along with Mayor Garcetti’s 10,000 Jobs Mission, before ending her remarks with an appeal for action.

“It’s time to match their service with service of our own. We cannot make the same mistakes in this generation as we’ve made in the past.”

Obama is scheduled to speak at an awards luncheon at the Grammy Museum in downtown Los Angeles later on Wednesday, completing her two-day Los Angeles trip. On Tuesday, the First Lady attended a $5,000 per person Democratic National Committee fundraiser at the home of Michael Lombardo, president of programming at HBO, according to CBS Los Angeles.

President Obama is scheduled to fly to Los Angeles next week for a pair of fundraisers. On July 23, he will attend a fundraiser at the home of TV producer Shonda Rhimes, where tickets range from $1,000 to $32,400. The next day, Obama will participate in an intimate roundtable discussion at the home of Michael Rapino, CEO of Live Nation, with tickets starting at $32,400.