Facing mounting criticism for bungling the pandemic response at state-run veterans homes where 200 have died, state lawmakers and New jersey Gov. Phil Murphy intend to propose a new state agency focused solely on the need of veterans.
In a major restructuring of the state's military announced Wednesday, the administration and legislative leaders outlined a plan to split the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs into two new agencies — one whose responsibilities include New Jersey's National Guard and the F-16s flying for the Air National Guard, and a newly created Department of Veterans Affairs that would focus on veterans services, including the state-run nursing homes.
The legislation would also establish an independent veterans advocate, the state officials said.
Additionally, the joint statement said, “We anticipate the appointment of a federal monitor to oversee improvements at our Veterans Memorial Homes,” located in Edison, Paramus and Vineland.
Unions representing the frontline workers at the veterans homes were informed of the sweeping proposals in a meeting Wednesday morning.
In a statement, the administration and legislators involved in the effort described the massive proposed changes.
“After thoughtful discussion, today we are announcing a conceptual agreement to pursue structural reforms to the delivery of veteran services in New jersey. As highlighted in both the United States Department of Justice…