President Obama announced the U.S. has cut the number of homeless veterans by 47 percent during a speech at the Disabled American Veterans convention in Atlanta today.
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"We have just about cut veterans homelessness in half. We've helped bring tens of thousands of veterans off the streets, but we're not slowing down," he said. "We will not stop until every veteran who fought for America has a home in America."
Additionally, he touted statistics that show 500,000 veterans have voluntarily donated their health data to the V.A.’s Million Veteran Program.
At a PBS town hall in Elkhart, Indiana, in June, Obama was questioned why his administration has not spent more money to cut veteran homelessness rather than welcome Syrian refugees. The president sharply rejected the premise of the question before blaming “a Congress that for too long talks tough about patriotism and looking out for our troops and … are fine with us sending 180,000 people into war, but then when it came down to the actual veterans’ budget, it wasn’t there.”
The White House points to statistics that show veteran homelessness declined by 17 percent in 2015 to under 40,000 veterans, based on results of the 2016 Point-in-Time Count of homelessness across the country conducted in January.
The president also announced the first lady Michelle Obama will hold an event this fall to celebrate that progress and establish additional milestones in the fight to end veteran homelessness.
During his remarks today, the president expressed his commitment to helping and serving the country's veterans.
“Every single veteran matters," he said.
“This is not a responsibility that can be shirked by offering empty words belied by policies that would leave veterans to fend for themselves,” the White House wrote in a fact sheet previewing the president’s visit. “The President will review the hard, persistent work that the Administration has done to keep this promise.”
The president also discussed health care, veteran benefits, expanding research in areas like post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, as well as the administration’s efforts to educate and employ veterans.
Later in the afternoon, the president will participate in a Democratic National Committee roundtable fundraiser at a private residence before returning to the White House.