WASHINGTON (AP) — Amid a furor over the failings of federal health-care programs for veterans, Michelle Obama was putting the spotlight Wednesday on a program that is working to reduce homelessness among vets.
The first lady was welcoming to the White House some 20 mayors and local officials who are among dozens around the country participating in the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. She was being joined at the event by acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson and Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan.
The Obama administration in 2010 set a goal of ending homelessness among veterans by the end of 2015. Veteran homelessness has dropped by 24 percent since then, but there were still nearly 58,000 homeless veterans as of January 2013, according to the most recent statistics available. That represented 12 percent of all homeless adults.
Mrs. Obama was announcing the commitment of 77 mayors, four governors and four county officials to participate in the mayors challenge. And she was calling on additional mayors and local leaders around the country to join the program.
VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned last week amid a growing scandal over patient delays and allegations of falsified waiting lists at VA hospitals and clinics nationwide. A federal investigation found broad problems throughout the veterans health care system, which provides medical care to about 6.5 million veterans a year.