AFTER LEAVE REQUEST DENIED
Citing that Gov. Ralph DLG Torres denied his request for advance military leave, which only showed that the governor does not support veterans, Stanley T. Iakopo tendered his resignation letter yesterday as executive officer of the CNMI Office of Veterans Affairs.
In response to Saipan Tribune’s request for comments, Torres said his administration has always supported the veterans through direct or indirect services.
“Our commitment to veterans is unwavering. I thank Mr. Iakopo for his service to our country and Commonwealth,” said Torres in a statement.
The governor also told Saipan Tribune that he accepted Iakopo’s resignation and that they will work on who will be appointed for the position.
In his letter addressed to Torres, Iakopo said it has become apparent to him that he and the governor no longer share the same values and principles with respect to good order and discipline.
“Therefore, I cannot in good conscience align myself with a governor who does not support veterans,” said the executive officer in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Saipan Tribune.
He said he attempted to meet with Torres over the past four years, but the governor denied all of his requests.
Iakopo said, in fact, recently he tried to meet with the governor to advise him about upcoming visits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, but he refused to meet with him.
He said he recently submitted a request for advance military leave and that once again Torres denied it.
Iakopo said he took an oath to protect freedom and defend the constitution, but when Torres denied his advance military leave request, it showed him that the governor does not support veterans, especially those called to duty.
The executive officer said it has been a privilege and honor to serve and advocate for the CNMI veterans and their families.
Iakopo said he has enjoyed working with the Veterans Health Administration, the Veterans Benefits Administration, and the National Cemetery Administration to ensure that the CNMI veterans and their families receive what they deserve.
Iakopo said his resignation will be effective immediately.
In May 2019, Torres appointed Iakopo for the executive director’s position.
Iakopo has served in the U.S. Air Force for the last 18 years in several capacities. He is a former executive director for the Civil Military Liaison Office and a former environmental health officer and procurement and supply director for the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.
Torres said his administration advocated for equality and inclusion where there were gaps, and that they’ve worked to build foundations upon which CNMI’s veterans may prosper as civilians.
Torres said aside from benefits that veterans have earned, it has been a duty of the administration to provide adequate healthcare services.
“I have taken this responsibility seriously,” he said.
The governor said in fact issues specific to physical, mental, and emotional health were brought up in a meeting with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Donald Remy and other USVA officials.
Last month, USVA Deputy Secretary Donald M. Remy commended Torres administration’s outreach efforts, which included town hall meetings on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.