Texas General Land Office Investments Officer Relieved After Surveying State Veterans Cemeteries | Local News

A Texas General Land Office investment official has been “relieved” after publicly questioning why the state should have veterans’ cemeteries, including Killeen’s, when they are losing money.

Texas Lands Commissioner George P. Bush announced in a letter to the Texas Legislature on Thursday that Rusty Martin had been relieved of his duties relating to the operations of the Veterans Lands Board.

In light of comments Martin made Oct. 28 about the status and funding of cemeteries between the state board of cemeteries, the Texas Veterans Commission, the Veterans Land Board, and the Texas General Land Office, Eric Brown, director deputy of Texas State Veterans Cemeteries, resigned.

Brown is a retired Air Force master sergeant, who has operated the state’s four veterans cemeteries since 2013.

“Remember, when you talk about supporting these cemeteries, you’re talking about forever,” Martin said at the Oct. 28 meeting. “You can’t predict what land and building programs (loans) will look like in 10 years, let alone in 200 years. If loan demand declines rapidly over time, this really does not generate any revenue for the program, at some point you will siphon off all funds available for the program.

“I’m a money guy. I’m not comfortable putting money into a program that loses money.

Following Martin’s succession, David Repp, senior deputy director and chief financial officer, will assume the role, Bush announced.

John Kelley was also named the new Deputy Director of Cemeteries, succeeding Brown. Kelley is a U.S. Army veteran who retired after 23 years of service, reaching the rank of lieutenant colonel, with deployments in Afghanistan and Kosovo.

“I have full confidence that these personnel changes will positively impact our day-to-day operations and better reflect our agency’s mission and values,” Bush said.

Gregory M. Roy