Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include comments from state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen.
The Texas General Land Office's chief investment officer has been relieved of his duties after he called Texas' four veteran cemeteries "money-losing programs."
The move came shortly after Texas State Veterans Cemeteries deputy director Eric Brown resigned in protest of the comments.
Brown said the comments reflected a pattern of state officials' lack of support for veterans.
In a letter to GLO Chairman George P. Bush, state Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa called the comments tone deaf and out of touch.
Hinojosa represents District 20, which includes two of four veteran cemeteries in Texas.
The state's four veteran cemeteries are in Corpus Christi, Killeen, Mission and Abilene.
"Comments that were made by Mr. Martin send chills down the spines of all our veterans," Hinojosa said. "They open wounds especially for our Vietnam veterans who were not welcome home after their service."
Hinojosa said he would request that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and state Sen. Kelly Hancock, chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs and Border Security, consider an interim charge that studies the funding of the state veteran cemeteries program.
He will also request consideration of moving the program to be administered by the Texas Veterans Commission.
Brown, an Air Force veteran, worked his last day as the deputy director of Texas State Veterans Cemeteries on Tuesday. He submitted his resignation on Nov. 10 after the GLO's chief investment officer, Rusty Martin, said he was not comfortable putting money into a "money-losing program" at a status and funding meeting between the state cemeteries board, Texas Veterans Commission, Veterans Land Board and the GLO.
"I left because the problem is culturally rooted," Brown said. "This is eight years of being part of that culture. They're going in and changing the program, but the problem is the perspective has to change."
Brown said Martin's comments were the tipping point. "This is the ultimate disrespect for those that have served," he said.
Brown believes the leadership change will not be enough and plans to continue fighting on behalf of veterans.
"It's public service, not a money-making venture," Brown said. "(Martin) is one of the highest-paid officials in the state. For him to have a mindset like that is very concerning to the veterans community."
Texas state veteran cemeteries
The veteran cemeteries were built through a partnership between the state of Texas and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and are managed by the Texas Veterans Land Board.
The cemeteries offer a final resting place for any member of the U.S. Armed Forces who dies while on active duty or any veteran who was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.
Funding for the cemeteries comes from profits raised by the veteran home, home improvement and land loan programs and the state's veteran retirement homes. The Department of Veterans Affairs also provides grants to establish and improve the cemeteries.
None of the 155 national or 150 state veteran cemeteries across the country generate a profit, according to Brown.
The Coastal Bend State Veterans Cemetery in Corpus Christi was opened in 2011 and spans 54 acres with up to 31,500 burial plots.
In October, Nueces County took over day-to-day management of the local cemetery as part of an agreement with the Texas Veterans Land Board.
Though the cemetery is still owned by the Veterans Land Board, the county is now responsible for maintaining buildings, grounds and equipment at the cemetery and performing routine and preventative maintenance.
Ashlee Burns covers trending and breaking news in South Texas. See our subscription options and special offers at Caller.com/subscribe
This article originally appeared on Corpus Christi Caller Times: GLO official relieved of duties after comment about veteran cemeteries