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Murphy names first Black Adjutant General

By David Wildstein, January 14 2018 3:41 pm

Gov.-elect Phil Murphy has named Col. Jamal Beale as the new Adjutant General, a cabinet position.  If confirmed by the Senate, Beale will become the first Black to head the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

Beale will replace Brigadier General Michael Cunniff, who was appointed by Gov. Chris Christie in 2011, following the resignation of Gen. Glenn Rieth.

“New Jersey veterans have been asked to do a lot but too many feel they have been forgotten, lack jobs, struggle with mental health issues, and many are homeless. If we are to achieve a stronger and fairer New Jersey, it must begin by standing by those who have stood by us,” Murphy said in a statement released today. “Col. Beale brings decades of military experience and leadership to our administration, and will be a steadfast advocate for the needs of our veterans.”

Murphy’s announcement made no mention whether Cunniff was retiring or being replaced.  Similarly, there was no mention of the Deputy Adjutant General, Brigadier General Edward Chrystal, although there is precedent for a Governor to pass over officers with greater seniority in the appointment of an Adjutant General.

Cunniff was criticized in 2015 when NJ Advance Media reported that four senior offices accused him of racial bias and cronyism that affected their career paths.

The 48-year-old Ocean Township resident – Murphy’s second cabinet pick from Monmouth County in three days – has served in the Army since 1987.  He commanded a border patrol police mentor team in Afghanistan, and served as Director of Plans, Operation, Training and Safety for Joint Force Headquarters of the New Jersey National Guard at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

The Adjutant General commands more than 9,000 soldiers and airmen of the New Jersey Army and Air National Guard.  The post is responsible for all veterans’ programs at the state level.

Murphy has not yet said if he will retain Deputy Commissioner of Veterans Affairs Raymond Zawacki, a Christie appointee.  The post oversees multiple services for New Jersey veterans, including care facilities, the homeless veteran transition housing program, the state veterans’ cemetery, and other veterans’ programs.

This cabinet post has been made without regard to partisan politics since 1948, when Adjutant General Clifford Powell retired.  Powell, a long-time National Guard member and Republican from Burlington County, had served as Senate President and Assembly Speaker — and as Acting Governor of New Jersey after A. Harry Moore resigned to take a U.S. Senate Seat.

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One thought on “Murphy names first Black Adjutant General

  1. I wish him nothing but luck and to please start with getting the homeless vets off the street and into either a rehab or some kind of a shelter to start their lives over again been working on projects for a while with this with an organization More has to be done from the top God bless let the man upstairs guide the way

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