Texas American Legion Commander: ‘State Land Officer Must Go’

Investment officer rips Veterans Cemeteries for ‘money-losing’

(AUSTIN, Texas – December 1, 2021) – The commander of the state American Legion, Bret Watson, called for the resignation of the Texas General Land Office’s chief investment officer for comments that are “profoundly disrespectful to veterans and their families.”

CIO Rusty Martin called veterans cemeteries a “money-losing proposition” during an October 28 meeting of state agencies.

“Mr. Martin is not a veteran, but every Texan should demand more of its public officials,” Watson said. “Texas is a patriotic state that recognizes the sacrifices that veterans make every day on our behalf.

Those who serve do not do so for the money. Those who lose their lives for this great nation will never again have the opportunity to earn another dollar. Yet Rusty Martin views the hallowed land in which they are buried to be some sort of business that prioritizes profits over honor. If he does not resign, he should be removed.”

During the meeting, Martin said, “Remember when you talk about supporting these veterans cemeteries, you’re talking about forever. You can’t predict what the land and housing (loan) programs will look like 10 years from now, let alone 200 years from now. If loan demand goes down precipitously over time, then you really don’t have that generating any income for the (cemetery) program, at some point you will siphon out all the funds available for the program…I’m not even comfortable with the numbers that we are experiencing now. I would never add to that. But that’s not my decision…”

Watson, a U.S. Army veteran, said, “I do agree with Martin that cemeteries are a ‘forever’ cost but his callous remarks failed to consider the ‘forever loss’ that is felt by the loved ones of these heroic men and women or the ‘forever freedom’ that has been provided to us as a result of their service. First-rate cemeteries for veterans are a minimal sacrifice compared to the real sacrifices that they have made on our behalf.”

The American Legion Department of Texas includes more than 65,000 wartime veterans dedicated to the motto of “Veterans Strengthening America.”

For more information about the Texas American Legion visit www.txlegion.org

Media Contact: Dept of Texas Adjutant Bill West, (512) 879-8299, billw@txlegion.org