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Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis Earns Spot on National Stage Regarding Veterans Services

Mayor Lewis at 2012 USCMAUBURN, Wash. – June 18, 2012 - Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis was asked to participate as part of a panel discussion at the 80th annual meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors last week on the topic of serving America’s veterans. The panel discussion, held in Orlando, Fla. on June 16, consisted of mayors from around the country and key federal administration members and included Mayor Scott Smith (Mesa, Ariz.), Mayor Joy F. Cooper (Hallendale Beach, Fla.), Mayor Joseph T. McElveen (Sumter, S.C.), John M. Garcia, Deputy Assistant Secretary United States Department of Veterans Affairs, and Ismael “Junior” Ortiz, Deputy Assistant Secretary Office of Veteran’s Employment and Training Service United States Department of Labor.

The panel was assembled to address issues on how veterans are an economic benefit to cities. Too often cities have looked at veterans as a problem because of city work in assisting veterans in finding employment and public services that can help them adjust back to everyday life.

Mayor Lewis, a Vietnam veteran, began his work with veterans’ services with the vow of many of his fellow Vietnam veterans to never allow another generation of veterans to be left out and left behind and is seeking to offer a new partnership to the mayors of America and our veterans.

Lewis suggested to the mayors of America that veterans could be the first step in the economic revival of their cities.

Garcia and Ortiz informed the group that our veterans come back to us with money for college, up to $30,000 each, and that has a multiplying effect all through the community. It is estimated that 100 veterans going to our schools brings $3 million to our citizens.

Veterans have the ability to get an FHA 203k rehabilitation loan run in conjunction with Home Depot to buy abandoned houses, fix them and then take out a zero-down VA loan, a way to bring up values in our neighborhoods, according to Garcia and Ortiz.

“It’s time for a new partnership with our cities and our veterans and the US Conference of Mayors can lead the way,” said Lewis. “With the return of our veterans we can end the specter of abandoned houses in our communities. Veterans can start new companies to win government contracts available only to veterans.”

“While veterans have been termed a problem by many,” Lewis concluded, “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.”

Started in 1932, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,309 such cities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor.

The primary roles of The U.S. Conference of Mayors are to: promote the development of effective national urban/suburban policy; strengthen federal-city relationships; ensure that federal policy meets urban needs; provide mayors with leadership and management tools; and create a forum in which mayors can share ideas and information.

For more information on USCM, visit www.usmayors.org.

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