Two weeks after the city proposed cutting the Vietnam War Memorial out of its official Memorial Day ceremonies, the veterans agent who reportedly designed the route that was later scrapped has now stepped aside.
Jeff Williams resigned on Monday after serving two years as the city's veterans agent, city Chief Administrative Officer Jim Duggan confirmed Wednesday.
Duggan said Williams' exit had nothing to do with the flap over the proposed new Memorial Day ceremony schedule, which was to lead the parade straight to the World War II Memorial and then disperse, dropping what has become a traditional ceremony at the Vietnam Memorial at Gloucester High School. Mayor Carolyn Kirk, who said Williams had crafted the new route, and initially said she supported it with an eye toward unifying the city's ceremonies, ultimately relented in the face of a public outcry and added the Vietnam Memorial visit to the program.
Williams, who still serves in the U.S. Army, left his city post after being granted an Army promotion, and to pursue furthering his career in the armed services, Duggan said.
The city, Duggan said, is looking to appoint a new agent quickly.
"He was adamant that it (the ceremony) was absolutely not (the cause)," Duggan said, "It was something he needed to address with his career in the Army."
The Veterans Services Council, said attorney, Vietnam veteran and veterans' advocate Mark Nestor, will conduct the search and present three finalists to Mayor Carolyn Kirk.
She'll make the final appointment. That council, Nestor said, will include representatives from the local American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the American Veterans, along with someone from the city administration.
"We'll put out the proposal, go for everyone we can, screen them and submit three to Carolyn (Kirk)," Nestor said. "We want to do it fast."
With Williams leaving, Nestor said the city and local veterans groups want to fill that post as quickly as possible. The former veterans agent became a Command Sergeant Major in the Army, Duggan said, and resigned after receiving the promotion.
The veterans agent provides assistance to local veterans under the directors of the state Department of Veteran Services and the federal GI bill. The agent's responsible for assisting veterans in applying for assistance, jobs, and education. It also ensures that the war memorials are kept up, along with providing decorations for all veteran grave sites on memorial and veterans' days.
According to an internal job posting, the city's started advertising the position on June 5. The veterans agent will make between $48,360 and $57,203.
The agent requires a bachelor's degree, and three years' minimum experience in human relations, social work or another related field, and be an honorably discharged veteran.
Williams, along with assistant Lucia Amero, managed an office that worked as a clearinghouse of aid for local veterans, Nestor said.
The office, he added, has been proactive in reaching out to veterans and providing what assistance it can to them.
The Veterans Services office manages aid for veterans, and helps local veterans associations with efforts like Operation Support our Troops, which the city took part in two years ago.
"It's probably one of the most dynamic offices going," Nestor said.
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.