April 22, 2020

Veterans Commission commends Executive Director Grace Link as she accepts position with U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Ryon Richmond appointed Interim Executive Director of Missouri Veterans Commission

JEFFERSON CITY - Chairman Tim Noonan announces effective May 31, 2020, Col. Grace Link is stepping down as the Executive Director of the Missouri Veterans Commission. Link will continue to serve Missouri veterans, but will now do so as a part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Veterans commissioners accepted Link’s resignation during an executive session meeting on Tuesday night, April 21, and appointed MVC Deputy Director Ryon Richmond as the Interim Executive Director effective June 1, 2020.

"As Executive Director, Col. Link has tirelessly devoted herself to ensuring that Missouri's heroes received the care they deserve. Caring for our veterans starts with respect and dignity, especially for those on the frontlines working in our Veterans Homes, serving as Veteran Service Officers, or providing funeral services in our Veterans Cemeteries," Chairman Noonan said. "Grace was a decisive leader in challenging times, such as deciding in early March that restricting access to our Veterans Homes was the right thing to do to protect our Missouri heroes. Newly developed metrics on care and satisfaction point to significant improvement in the lives of the more than 1,100 Missouri veterans in our homes. Grace made a distinct, positive difference."

Noonan credited Link, the commission’s first woman executive director, with establishing new levels of transparency and open communications among all stakeholders, including commissioners, veterans and their families, Veterans Service Organizations, volunteers and all 1,650 MVC team members. He said Link connected with peers nationally and brought new ideas and metrics to Missouri. He also said she changed the culture at the state's Veterans Homes and throughout the entire organization.

"Our goal is to be the best state in the country for veterans, and Grace took us a long way toward achieving that goal. Her handling of the COVID-19 crisis has been particularly impressive. Our Veterans Homes have been a model for keeping the virus out," Noonan said.

"The Veterans Commission has been my toughest and most rewarding assignment,” said Link, who is a colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserves. “I have seen our wonderful MVC staff provide the most compassionate care to the elderly at a time in their lives when they need it the most. They are truly heroes serving heroes! I will sincerely miss my MVC teammates, but know that I am leaving them in very capable hands."

Led by the appointed commissioners, the Missouri Veterans Commission has begun the process of selecting a new executive director. 

Deputy Director Ryon Richmond will serve as the MVC Interim Executive Director while a search is conducted for a permanent replacement. Richmond is a graduate of Southwest Missouri State University and the Army War College. Richmond has over 30 years of service with the U.S. Army and Missouri Army National Guard, retiring as a colonel in 2017. Richmond held many leadership posts during his career and concluded his career as the Joint Force HQ Deputy U.S Property and Fiscal Officer at National Guard headquarters in Jefferson City. Before joining MVC in 2019, he was the Training and Exercise Program Manager at the State Emergency Management Agency.

The Missouri Veterans Commission serves 485,000 Missouri veterans through the selfless service of 1,650 employees in seven State Veterans Homes, five State Veterans Cemeteries, and its Veterans Services Program.


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