(CNN) – First lady Michelle Obama called the number of homeless veterans “a stain on our nation’s soul,” urging local officials to continuing working to fight the problem.
At an event in Washington on Thursday, Mrs. Obama told a packed room, “as Americans, the idea that anyone who has worn our country’s uniform spends their night sleeping on the ground should horrify us. So it’s truly our duty to right this wrong and put an end to veteran homelessness once and for all.”
Mrs. Obama announced at the annual National Conference on Ending Homelessness that, within the last few weeks, nearly 100 local leaders had pledged to end homelessness by the end of 2015. More than 182 communities around the country have joined the Mayors Challenge to End Veterans Homelessness, including major metropolitan area Los Angeles, Dallas and Miami.
“If your mayor isn’t signed up yet for the mayor’s challenge then light up their phone until they get on board,” she said. “And if you have any questions on whether or not we can get this done I want you to look at the success stories of many of the organizations of communities represented in this room today.”
Mrs. Obama also touted her husband’s administration with initiating the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program last year, which has helped more than 60,000 veterans and their families from becoming homeless, and said she expects the number to grow to 100,000 by the end of next year.
“My husband vowed to put an end to veteran homelessness and over the past five years,” Mrs. Obama said. “He’s cut through red tape, directed record funding to veteran programs and together we made tremendous progress on this issue.”
Ultimately, Mrs. Obama remained hopeful that if the country could tend to its homeless veterans, the initiative would help curb other subsections of the country that are also plagued by homelessness.
“We can see the finish line and if we achieve our goal, if we end homelessness for our veterans, then we’ll show everyone in this country that we can also do it for all those families shuttling from motel to motel. For all those LGBT teens and for every single person experiencing throughout our country that has been this organizations goal since it formed more than a quarter century ago,” the first lady said.
“And today we’re so close to this major milestone for our veterans all we have to do is finish the job.”