First Lady speaks at Unite for Veterans Summit

EMBED </>More Videos

Michelle Obama received a warm welcome from business and community leaders as she spoke at the Unite for Veterans Summit Wednesday.

Michelle Obama received a warm welcome from business and community leaders as she spoke at the Unite for Veterans Summit in Century City Wednesday. The event comes as an effort is underway to get homeless and unemployed veterans into the job market.

"I want to thank all of you for coming here today to show our veterans and their families that after all they have done for our country that we have got their backs," the first lady said.

Los Angeles County has one of the largest populations of homeless veterans in the nation, about 4,300 men and women. One of those was Marva Lewis.

"I was at the point where I was ashamed of saying I was a veteran when I came out of the military," Lewis said.

The Navy veteran says she could not find a job. She even had trouble getting treatment at the VA Hospital.

"I did have some issues in Wilshire. I had surgery, there was a lot of chaos at the time. They didn't know whether I was a veteran, they didn't know whether I was a patient there," Lewis said.

That's what people at Wednesday's summit want to change. The United Way is working with the VA and local government. They want to help veterans connect with businesses that are hiring.

"It's unacceptable that any veteran who serves our country is sleeping on our streets, and two, related to that, how can we make sure that more of our veterans are getting access to good paying jobs," Elise Buik of United Way of Los Angeles said.

The first lady says the skills learned in the military are sometimes not understood when veterans apply for a job.

"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.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says he is committed to ending homeless veterans in Los Angeles by the end of next year. He says it will take a citywide effort.

"The public, the private, the non-profit sectors coming together with the community to make sure that we support our military community," Garcetti said.

The issue will continue to grow. Officials expect with the military drawdowns in both Iraq and Afghanistan, 35,000 new veterans will come to California each year for the next several years.

Related Topics:
michelle obamaveteransemploymentCentury City
(Copyright ©2018 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.)