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Retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Mark A. Piterski, the deputy commissioner for Veterans Affairs in the Murphy administration. Photo courtesy of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

Piterski resigns Murphy administration post days after dropping House race

Paramus Veterans Home has 55 deaths, more than 90% of residents test positive for COVID-19

By David Wildstein, April 27 2020 11:57 pm

Less than a week after dropping his one-day independent challenge to Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff), retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Mark A. Piterski has resigned his post as Gov. Phil Murphy’s deputy commissioner for Veterans Affairs.

Piterski said he informed state Adjutant General Jamal Beale of his decision this evening.

“I may not agree with everything, but I still support the governor, Piterski told the New Jersey Globe.

The Paramus Veterans Memorial Home, one of the facilities under Piterski’s command, has faced strong criticism over the last two weeks after being hit hard by the coronavirus.

The Globe has learned that Paramus home had had 189 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with four additional tests pending and 15 hospitalizations — about 90% of the total residents — and 55 veterans have died.  Additionally, 65 staff members have tested positive for coronavirus and one has died.

Piterski, a decorated combat veteran, said an ethics complaint was filed against him, but did not say who filed it. 

He said there “is going to be a backlash from the VFW and American Legion” over the circumstances of his departure. 

Another bid for Congress could be in Piterski’s future.

“Maybe I’ll run in 2022 or 2024,” he said.

Piterski began his military career in 1989 as a platoon leader of the Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 102nd Infantry in 1989.  He held a multitude of command posts and was awarded the Bronze Star before becoming Chief of Staff of the New Jersey National Guard.

He was the Acting Deputy Adjutant General for the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs for the first three months of Murphy’s governorship.

As deputy commissioner, Piterski runs two divisions that serve more than 300,000 veterans in the state on behalf of the Murphy administration: the Division of Veterans Healthcare Services, which operates three state-run, long-term care veterans homes; and the Division of Veterans Services, which coordinates a multitude of benefits programs for veterans living in New Jersey.

Piterski announced last week that he would run as an independent, but dropped out the following day.

“For the need to set aside any possible distractions, I have decided to forgo my independent campaign for New Jersey’s 5th congressional district,” Piterski said in a statement.  “I will be working everyday to make sure the homes have the staff and resources needed to keep our residents safe. That is my focus, that is my mission and all other activities take a back seat.”

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