A former U.S. Army brigadier general and psychiatrist will serve as New York City's new commissioner of veteran affairs, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday.
Loree Sutton is among the last of de Blasio's major administration appointments, eight months into his term as mayor.
She is a mental health and brain injuries specialist who served in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait and Egypt during the first Gulf War.
De Blasio, at a City Hall news conference, said veteran affairs is primarily the jurisdiction of the federal government, but the city and others have a "responsibility" to help with such veterans' challenges as unemployment, homelessness and mental health struggles.
Sutton, 55, of Brooklyn, said she would strengthen the relationships among public and private veterans organizations.
"While many veterans are thriving, many are also struggling," she said.
Soldiers often return from war with the mentality, "Once I am a warrior and veteran, I am always a warrior and veteran" and their commitment to service should be leveraged positively, Sutton said.
She begins in her post Sept. 2 and will receive a salary of $192,198.
De Blasio called veterans' post-combat issues "something very personal," referencing his father, Warren Wilhelm Sr., a World War II veteran who lost a leg in the battle at Okinawa. Wilhelm returned to the United States with physical and mental challenges, de Blasio said, and ultimately committed suicide.
His father's experiences impacted his whole family, de Blasio said Monday, stressing the need for the city and the Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs to also provide support for veterans' loved ones.