A former Trenton police sergeant and decorated New Jersey Army National Guard veteran has become the first Black to serve as State Commander of the New Jersey Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Luddie H. Austin, 51, served in the National Guard from 1987 to 2008 and was a military police squad leader in Iraq from 2003 to 2005. He was with the Trenton Police Department from 1994 to 2011 and now owns a private security business. From 2011 to 2014, he was the commander of VFW Post 7298 in Ewing.
At their state convention in Wildwood this weekend, Republican Jack Ciattarelli addressed VFW members on his bid to unseat Gov. Phil Murphy.
Murphy was invited to attend but declined, the VFW said, and did not send a representative, the VFW said. The acting Adjutant General, Col. Lisa Hou, spoke to the membership as a representative of the Murphy administration.
Covid-related deaths at state-run veterans homes has become an issue in the race for governor between Murphy and Ciattarelli.
Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Cleopatra Tucker (D-Newark) was awarded the Distinguished Legislator Award. The VFW Legislator of the Year Award was presented to Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean (R-Westfield).
Austin succeeds Brian Wiener as state commander.