Home>Campaigns>Murphy didn’t respond to invitation to discuss veterans issues, VFW says

Gov. Phil Murphy and interim Adjutant General and Commissioner of Military and Veterans Affairs Lisa Hou in Lawrenceville on March 10, 2021. (Photo: Marc C. Olsen/New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.)

Murphy didn’t respond to invitation to discuss veterans issues, VFW says

Ciattarelli will appear alone at a gubernatorial candidate town hall on Saturday

By David Wildstein, September 30 2021 10:26 am

The Veterans of Foreign Wars will host a gubernatorial candidate town hall on Saturday evening with Republican Jack Ciattarelli in attendance, but the group says Gov. Phil Murphy never responded to their invitation.

The VFW provided documentation that that their invitation was delivered to Murphy’s campaign headquarters in Newark on September 16.

The Murphy campaign declined to comment.

Deaths related to the coronavirus pandemic in state-run veterans homes in Menlo Park and Paramus has been an issue in Murphy’s re-election campaign against Ciattarelli.

Over 200 residents died as a result of COVID-19, including 11 deaths at a state-run veterans home in Vineland.  The U.S. Department of Justice is currently investigating whether mismanagement by state officials who ran those veterans homes contributed to the deaths.

Assemblyman Ryan Peters (R-Hainesport), a U.S. Navy SEAL reserve commander, slammed Murphy for his lack of response.

“Apparently Governor Murphy’s pattern of ignoring the men and women who have served in uniform knows no end,” Peters said.  “First, he left them to die alone in his state-run veterans homes.  Now, he can’t even be bothered to answer their question

State VFW leaders have complained in their past over their inability to get a meeting with Murphy.

“Our concerns to the Governor’s Office and Adjutant General fell on deaf ears and over 190 veterans under state care died as a result,” said VFW State Commander Brian Wiener said in January.

Murphy later said he hadn’t seen Wiener’s comments.

Last October, Gen. Jamal Beale was pushed out as Commissioner of Military and Veterans Affairs, and the heads of the Paramus and Menlo Park veterans homes were fired.

Nursing home deaths will be covered in the town hall forum, according to VFW spokesman Ken Hagemann, along with veterans property tax relief, income tax exemptions for active duty military, preferences for veterans applying for civil service government positions, and funding programs to address suicide rates among veterans returning from their service.

“There is no group of citizens that has a more vested right to vote than our Nation’s veterans,” said VFW Post 12173 Commander Matt Roth.  “We must continue to play a role as patriotic citizens and ensure a pro-veteran government is elected.”

The event will be held at the Clarion Hotel in Toms River on October 2 at 6:30 PM.

This story was updated at 11:28 AM with comment from Peters.

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