Lewis honored with Outstanding Service to Veterans Award

Lourdes Alvarado-Ramos, director of the WSDVA (Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs), left, with Mayor Pete Lewis and his wife, Kathy.    - Courtesy photo
Lourdes Alvarado-Ramos, director of the WSDVA (Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs), left, with Mayor Pete Lewis and his wife, Kathy.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

For the Reporter

Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis was honored with the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs 2013 Outstanding Service to Veterans award for his work supporting veterans and their families.

Lewis has helped veterans and their families on many issues, including gaining access to services and employment opportunities. The award was presented at a special luncheon in Auburn, following the City's annual Veterans Day Parade last Saturday.

The Governor's Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee (VAAC) and the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs (WSDVA) each year honors Washington residents with awards for their contributions to the state's veterans and their families during the past year. The awards recognize individuals who devote time and energy to improving the lives of Washington's veterans.

"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 Lewis.

A Vietnam veteran 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 to generate 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 and was renewed again in 2011.

On the national stage

In 2011, Lewis made national news speaking out at the U.S. Conference of Mayors when he asked that a resolution from the mayors to the president and Congress to end the wars and bring the war dollars home be defeated.

Lewis spoke up, saying that "making political statements in this forum about the war, I do not believe is proper."

This sparked a debate among 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 to cities that U.S. war veterans can be.

"While veterans have been termed a problem by many," he said. "We must recognize that they have earned the assistance we bring 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, said, "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."

The other 2013 Outstanding Service to Veterans award winners are:

• Michael Zorn, Outstanding Veteran Volunteer
• Earl Jones, Outstanding Volunteer Service Officer
• Sen. Randi Becker, Outstanding Legislator
• Rep. Tina Orwall, Outstanding Legislator
• Roberto Valdez, Outstanding Employee
• Alex Frix, Outstanding Male Non-Veteran
• Sue Patterson, Outstanding Female Non-Veteran
• Lower Valley Honor Guard, Outstanding Patriotic Award

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