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Imperial Beach wants to hear from veterans, military personnel on issues that affect them. A new panel makes it official.

San Diego Union-Tribune - 12/27/2023

Imperial Beach veterans and active military personnel now have a new way to help shape the way their city addresses issues affecting their population.

Earlier this month, the City Council approved the creation of the Veterans and Military Affairs Committee and outlined its duties.

"We have a very vibrant and active veteran and military community within our community," said Mayor Paloma Aguirre. "I think having this committee will help us just guide our work better."

Aguirre, whom voters elected as mayor last year, introduced the idea of establishing such a committee after campaigning and hearing "across the board…that there was a need for that."

The coastal city of about 26,000 people is home to more than 1,600 veterans, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It also houses the 1,100-acre Naval Outlying Landing Field Imperial Beach, where more than 40 percent of the Navy's helicopter pilots train.

Councilmember Jack Fisher said the city has had support from local veterans during flag-raising ceremonies and other veterans-related events, and having them serve on the committee would be another great way to honor them while receiving their input.

"Who better to know that group of people than those who are members of that group," he said.

The committee will consist of five members appointed by the mayor with the approval of the City Council, according to the city's municipal code. Each would serve for four years and meet at least quarterly or as needed.

Members should represent "a cross section of the community," including veterans, active military personnel and individuals familiar with or who have worked with military and veterans' programs and resources, the city said. Only one non-resident will be able to serve on the committee at one time.

Their responsibilities will be to provide advice and make recommendations to the City Council on issues affecting active-duty personnel and veterans, as well as assist the city on military recognition events, participate in the preservation of Veterans Park and offer a forum to discuss related topics.

This story originally appeared in San Diego Union-Tribune.

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