Missouri Veterans Commission chairman Tim Noonan resigned his volunteer post late Thursday, saying “Fundamental values were crossed,” by Governor Mike Parson when he stated “I’m not going to worry about everybody’s personal lives that sit on a commission or chairman,” in response to a question about an investigation into a deadly COVID-19 outbreak at Missouri’s Veterans homes. To date, the commission reports that 158 veterans in their facilities have died of coronavirus since September.
During a Capitol press conference Wednesday, Missourinet asked Parson to elaborate on what changes he wants after an independent report listed causes of COVID-19 spread inside the state’s seven long-term care facilities that serve veterans.
“I’ve got to be careful with that,” he said. “I’m going to do everything within my power to make sure they (veterans) are taken care of. If people didn’t do their job is why I called for the investigation to expose that, if that is the case. The veterans will be a priority. I’m not going to worry about everybody’s personal lives that sit on a commission or a chairman. I’m just going to absolutely worry about the veterans and that is my whole focus.”
Noonan told Missourinet that his resignation had nothing to do with the release of the full investigation report that same day, though he disagreed with publishing the 415-pages of details of the Armstrong Teasdale review. Read related story.
Noonan assumed the role of the only spokesman and advocate for MVC staff after the report’s summary was published, shielding veterans home employees and the agency’s director from the press and public comment. However, Noonan said the role of the commission overseeing the agency is often unclear.
Noonan has recently spoken out about having little or no say in money being appropriated from his agency to the Veterans Community Project, a non-profit serving homeless veterans, especially when revenue and staffing are down.
“The commission is independent and shouldn’t be batted around for political gain,” he texted after his resignation. “Hopeful someone will pick up the flag.”
Noonan served in the Marine Corps and is a former executive with Boeing. He was appointed to the post by Gov. Eric Greitens in 2017.