Col. Grace Link can drop "interim" from her title as the Missouri Veterans Commission's director.
Commissioners hired Link as the official executive director during a telephone conference call Wednesday night by an 8-1 vote.
"As interim executive director, Col. Link has tirelessly devoted herself to making sure Missouri's heroes get the care they deserve and are treated with respect and dignity," MVC Chairman Tim Noonan said in a news release. "She has made some tough calls.
"Grace not only understands that caring for the over 1,300 Missouri veterans in our homes is a sacred trust, she recognizes that we have to take care of the people who take care of our veterans."
Noonan said Link is "driving new levels of transparency and open communications among all stakeholders that include the commissioners, veterans, their families, Veterans Service Organizations, volunteers and all 1,750 teammates."
He also said she is "changing the culture" at the state's veterans' homes and throughout the commission's organization.
"Our goal is to be the best state for veterans in the nation," Noonan said.
In the same news release, Link said: "After more than three decades in the National Guard and assignments that ranged from logistics to operations overseas and most recently director of staff for the Missouri Air National Guard, I wasn't sure what to expect when I was tasked with leading the Veterans Commission on an interim basis.
"Over the last four months, I have come to love MVC's mission — the daily challenges, the committed employees, and most of all, the veterans and their families! I can think of no better way to continue my military career than to help ensure the men and women, with whom I served, get the attention and care they deserve."
Commission spokesman Daniel Bell said Thursday that Link "intends to remain a National Guard officer" as she assumes the commission directorship on a permanent basis.
Link's hiring followed a national search and extensive review, the commission noted in the news release.
The commission serves 485,000 Missouri veterans "through the selfless service of 1,750 employees in seven state veterans homes, five state veterans cemeteries, and its Veterans Services Program," according to the release.
Link had 31 years of service when commissioners named her as the interim executive director Dec. 13, 2017 — after they had accepted Larry Kay's resignation.
Link is the first woman to serve as the commission's executive director.
She earned a bachelor's degree in electronics engineering technology from Missouri Western State University and a master's degree in civil engineering from Oklahoma State University.