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Cooper appoints Pentagon official to lead NC military and veteran affairs

Grier Martin (office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel & Readiness/Released)

Gov. Roy Cooper is tapping a former state lawmaker and high-ranking U.S. Department of Defense official to replace Walter Gaskin as the secretary of the N.C. Department of Military and Veteran Affairs.

Cooper’s office announced Thursday that Gaskin will step down as head of the agency on Monday and be replaced by Grier Martin, a Democrat who represented Wake County in the N.C. House for 17 years beginning in 2005. Martin currently serves as assistant secretary of defense for manpower and reserve affairs at the Pentagon.

Gaskin’s resignation comes after months of scrutiny by Republican state lawmakers of the department’s closure of a veterans home in Fayetteville, WRAL reported, which caused around 85 veterans to relocate.

In a statement, Cooper said he was grateful for Gaskin’s service to the state, and said his administration had relied upon Gaskin’s “remarkable military experience to strengthen our support networks and services for veterans and their families.”

A retired lieutenant general in the Marine Corps, Gaskin previously served as deputy chairman of the NATO Military Committee in Brussels, Belgium, between 2010 and 2013. From 2006 to 2008, Gaskin served as the commanding general of the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune.

Martin represented Wake in NC House

Martin represented Wake County in the N.C. House between 2005 and 2022, stepping down from his seat in July 2022 to take a job in the Defense Department. While in the General Assembly, Martin chaired the House Homeland Security, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee.

Cooper called Martin a “fierce advocate” for veterans and military communities, and said he was confident Martin would “continue our efforts to make North Carolina the most military and veteran friendly state in the nation.”

In his current position at the Pentagon, Martin is the principal advisor to the secretary of defense and the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness “on all matters related to civilian and military personnel policies, reserve integration, military community and family policy, and total force manpower and resources,” according to the announcement from Cooper’s office.

Martin’s responsibilities at the Defense Department cover “the entire life cycle of a service member from recruiting and accessions through casualty and mortuary affairs” and include overseeing quality-of-life programs for military personnel and their families that include “commissaries and exchanges; morale, welfare, and recreation (MWR) programs; family advocacy and spouse employment; the chaplaincy; and child and youth services,” the announcement said.

“I am honored to serve the people of North Carolina as the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Secretary and look forward to building on the strong work done by Secretary Gaskin and his team,” Martin said in a statement. “I am grateful and excited for this opportunity to support North Carolina’s veterans and military families.”

His father, D.G. Martin, is a retired lawyer and former UNC System vice president who hosted the literary program North Carolina Bookwatch on PBS NC for 22 years.


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