Linda Chapa LaVia announced Keynote Speaker for 2019 Veterans Tribute Dinner

August 16, 2019

Salem, IL…Reunion Chairman, Brian Deckard, is pleased to announce that the keynote speaker for the 2019 Marion County Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Reunion Tribute Dinner will be the new Acting Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA), Linda Chapa LaVia. The dinner will be held at the First Christian Church Fellowship Hall on Friday, October 4th with a reception from 5:00—6:00 p.m. and the Dinner/Program from 6:00-8:00 p.m.

“We are very fortunate to be able to host Acting Director Chapa LaVia for this year’s Veterans Tribute Dinner where we will honor veterans and the families who support them while they served our great nation,” commented Brian Deckard, this year’s reunion chairman. “We are once again partnering with the Little Egypt Festival and encourage people to come to Marion County to enjoy all of the activities.”

Acting Director Chapa LaVia is responsible for over 1200 employees of the IDVA and manages a budget of approximately $150 million. The IDVA serves more than 650,000 veterans across the state of Illinois. The mission of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) is to empower veterans and their families to thrive. They do this by assisting them in navigating the system of federal, state, and local resources and benefits; by providing long-term health care for eligible veterans in our Veterans’ Homes; and by partnering with other agencies and non-profits to help veterans address education, mental health, housing, employment, and other challenges.

Chapa LaVia enlisted in the Illinois Army National Guard before simultaneously participating in the Army ROTC program at the University of Illinois-Chicago. After graduation, she was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and continued to serve in the Illinois Army National Guard where she rose to the rank of First Lieutenant. In 2002 Chapa LaVia was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives, becoming the first Latino to be elected to the General Assembly outside Cook County.

Chapa LaVia joined the House Veteran Affairs committee during her first term starting in 2003. Two years later she was appointed Vice-Chair of the committee, and since 2009 served as the committee’s chair until her appointment with IDVA.

Marion County Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Reunion American Legion * Luther B. Easley Post 128 Chairman – Brian Deckard * 618-420-3489 1001 E. Main Street (Veterans Blvd.) * Salem, Illinois 62881

During her tenure in the legislature she led many veteran bills into law. One was to add military status to the Illinois Human Rights Act. She also assisted in the creation of the Vet-Cash lottery ticket which has raised over $14 million for veteran’s organizations. Other legislation includes: creating the Illinois Task Force on Veteran’s Suicide, expanding homestead exemptions for Vet- erans, expanding opportunities for Veteran-owned small businesses, and easing the transition for active military members returning to civilian life in the state of Illinois.

For her service she has been recognized with the Inaugural Semper Fi Award by the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans, Illinois Outstanding Veteran Award from the Veterans Outreach Program of Illinois, Legislative Award from the American Ex-Prisoners of War Organization, the Seven Seals Award from the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard & Reserve, and the Statesman & Humanitarian Award from the Veterans and Military Families for Pro- gress.

Acting Director Chapa LaVia is a member of the American Legion and the Military Officers Asso- ciation of America. Linda lives in Aurora with her husband Vernon, a former Navy cadet, and their two daughters, Jackie and Veronica.

Anyone interested in attending the dinner is encouraged to contact us through our Facebook page, by email at, or by calling 618-420-3489. Veterans are also invited to ride in the Little Egypt Parade in the Veterans Section on Saturday, Oct. 5 and enjoy Family Day in the Park on Sunday, Oct. 6th.