Linda Chapa LaVia - Acting Director – Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs
Linda Chapa LaVia was appointed as the Acting Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs (IDVA) by Governor JB Pritzker in January 2019. She is responsible for over 1200 employees of the IDVA and manages a budget of approximately $150 million. Acting Director Chapa LaVia leads a team of professionals that serves more than 650,000 veterans across the state of Illinois.
Acting Director Chapa LaVia enlisted in the Army Reserve and basic training at Fort Dix. She became an Army ROTC cadet at the University of Illinois-Chicago. After graduation, she was promoted as a First Lieutenant in the US Army. Later she was commissioned to the rank of Second Lieutenant and remained in the Illinois Army National Guard. 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.
Driven by her commitment for fellow veterans, she joined the House Veteran Affairs committee during her first term starting in 2003. Two years later she was promoted to Vice-Chair of the committee, and since 2009, she served as the committee's chair until her recent appointment with IDVA.
During her term 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 Veterans, 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 Progress.
Acting Director Chapa LaVia is a member of the Roosevelt-Aurora American Legion Post 84 and the Military Officers Association of America. Linda lives in Aurora with her husband Vernon, a former member of the United States Navy ROTC at Duke University, and their two teenage daughters, Jackie and Veronica.