Mark Smith appointed to lead state Veterans Affairs Board

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Jun. 23—JACKSON — The Mississippi Veterans Affairs Board on Thursday announced that it appointed Mark Smith as the state agency's new executive director. Smith most recently served as the organization's interim executive director.

"I am honored to serve Mississippi's 186,000 Veterans through our mission programs," Smith said in a statement. "With a great team already in place, we will continue to provide superior service, care and assistance to America's heroes."

Smith served in the U.S. Army and Mississippi National Guard from 1976 to 2006, retiring with the rank of colonel. He received an undergraduate degree from William Carey University and a master's degree from Mississippi College.

Smith has served in state government for over 16 years, holding various positions at the Mississippi Department of Child Protective Services, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and Mississippi Department of Human Services.

David McElreath represents north Mississippi on the veterans affairs board, and told the Daily Journal he has full confidence in Smith to be great director at the agency.

"I think Mark is a solid guy, and he's committed to our veterans," McElreath said.

Smith replaces Stacey Pickering, a former state auditor who led the agency from 2018 until his abrupt resignation in May.

The veterans board would not comment on Pickering's employment status for several days and has not disclosed the reason for his departure.

Smith will now be responsible for maintaining two veteran memorial cemeteries, training and certifying the veteran service officers in individual counties, and overseeing the state's four veterans homes.

taylor.vance@djournal.com