Before his appointment to the position, Deputy Commissioner Zawacki served for more than 20 years as the Adjutant for The American Legion – Department of New Jersey. In that capacity, he served as the chief administrative officer for the state’s largest veterans’ service organization, and was responsible for daily operations of the headquarters and service offices, staff development, and budget. Other duties included public relations and service as legislative coordinator. Before serving as adjutant, Deputy Commissioner Zawacki served as a full-time Department Service Officer for the American Legion and managed the Newark Service Office for the organization. Deputy Commissioner Zawacki began that job on Jan. 22, 1968. It was one of the most critical periods for veterans’ advocacy in American history as the first substantial wave of World War II veterans began seeking the entitlements they had earned from their military service and large numbers of service members were returning from Vietnam. As a service officer, one of his primary duties was to help veterans navigate the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health and benefits system.
In addition to serving veterans through the American Legion, Zawacki served as a member and Chair of the Veterans Facility Council at the Menlo Park Veterans Home and as a member of the New Jersey Veterans’ Services Council, which is the governor’s top advisory body for all veterans’ matters.
Deputy Commissioner Zawacki is a U.S. Navy veteran. He served on active duty from July 27, 1965 to July 26, 1967 aboard the Attack Aircraft Carrier Ticonderoga (CVA-14). He performed administrative duties in the engineering department and was selected to promotion to YN3 (E-4). He participated in two Western Pacific deployments for Vietnam combat operations. Deputy Commissioner Zawacki received the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze stars and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device. He is also a recipient of the New Jersey Meritorious Service Medal.
Deputy Commissioner Zawacki attended public schools in Edison, New Jersey and was part of the first graduating class of John P. Stevens High School in 1965. He attended U.S. Navy Administrative School, Middlesex County College and numerous financial and management seminars. He resides in Woodbridge with his wife, Joanna. He has two children and one grandchild.