Linda Chapa LaVia - Director - Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs
Director Linda Chapa LaVia was appointed to the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs (IDVA) by Governor JB Pritzker in February 2019. She is responsible for over 1200 employees of the IDVA and manages a budget of approximately $150 million. Director Chapa LaVia leads a team of professionals that serves more than 650,000 veterans across the state of Illinois.
Director 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.
Recognizing the commitment she has for her fellow veterans, she 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.
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 she had supported 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.
Director Chapa LaVia is a member of the American Legion and the Military Officers Association of America. Linda lives in Aurora with her husband Vernon, a former Navy cadet, and their two daughters, Veronica and Jackie.