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Mayor Pete Lewis receives Outstanding Service to Veterans Award

Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis receives his award.

The Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs honored Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis with the distinguished 2013 Outstanding Service to Veterans Award. The award acknowledged Lewis's work for access to services and employment opportunities by veterans and their families.

The award was presented at a special luncheon in Auburn following the city's annual Veterans Day Parade on Saturday, Nov. 9.

"You have been an inspiration to us," said Lourdes Alvarado-Ramos, Director of WSDVA. "Your tireless work on behalf of Washington veterans has made us all better." Alvarado-Ramos added that WSDVA would not be Vietnam War Commemorative Partner without the urging of Mayor Lewis.

A Vietnam veteran himself who served in the Navy, Lewis took the office of mayor in 2002 and has worked tirelessly on many veterans issues locally, regionally and nationally. He was the co-sponsor of the Veterans and Human Services Levy that was passed by the voters of King County in November 2005. The levy, which was renewed in 2011, generated funding to help veterans, military personnel and their families, and other individuals and families in need across the county through a variety of housing and supportive services.

Lewis made national news in 2011 at the U.S. Conference of Mayors when he spoke out against a resolution from the mayors to the president and congress to end the wars and bring the war dollars home. "Making political statements in this forum about the war, I do not believe is proper," Lewis stated.

This sparked a debate amongst the mayors that resulted in important amendments to the resolution that changed the wording to express support for U.S. troops, which Lewis and the other mayors then approved.

The next year, Lewis was asked to participate in a panel discussion at the U.S. Conference of Mayors summer meeting to discuss issues of returning veterans, and the economic benefit they can bring to our cities. "While veterans have been termed a problem by many," he said, "we must recognize that they have earned our assistance while at the same time we must remember the value they bring back to us with their return home. Our veterans can be an agent of positive change for our community."

Lewis, who was moved and surprised by the recognition, stated, "Auburn is fast becoming the central location for returning veterans and I am so pleased to see our state's awards presented in our city."