Coronavirus News: New Jersey deputy commissioner of veterans affairs resigns amid pandemic

PARAMUS, New Jersey (WABC) -- The New Jersey deputy commissioner of veterans affairs has resigned from his position amid a deadly crisis during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Mark Piterski oversaw the three state-run veterans homes where at least 102 people died.

The resignation was a surprise to many and comes amid intense scrutiny on homes run by the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

"Late on Tuesday, Dr. Mark Piterski spoke with Brig. Gen. Jemal J, Beale, the Adjutant General and Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, to informed him that he was resigning from the position of Deputy Commissioner for Veterans Affairs," the department said in a statement. "Since this is personnel matter, we cannot comment any further."

Retired New Jersey Army National Guard Col. Walter Nall, the current Director of Veterans Services, will serve as the acting Deputy Commissioner for Veterans Affairs.

The facilities in Paramus and Menlo Park have accounted for all the fatalities, with 55 deaths taking place at the Paramus Veterans Memorial Home.

Piterski was there back on April 9 as COVID-19 was spreading rapidly in the nursing home among residents and staff.

Medics from the National Guard were brought in to help, and the location was placed on lock down as patients were separated and those with the virus were placed in isolation.

Piterski talked to Eyewitness News about how the military medics could help assist the residents

"Forty combat medics from our New Jersey Army National Guard, and they are here to assist our certified nursing assistants, our nurses," he said at the time. "They are not certified nurses. However, they are equivalent to EMTs. They are combat medics. There are 40 of them here. There will be a little over 10 plus leadership on our three shifts and will augment our staff."

He said at the time they would remain there to help for as long as is needed.

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