Curda appointed Director of the Illinois Dept. of Veterans Affairs
By Jerry Field, Veteran Correspondent
Retired Brigadier General Stephen K. Curda, Ph.D. was appointed as the Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) by Governor Rauner on June 5, 2018. He is responsible for nearly 1300 employees of the IDVA and manages a budget of approximately $150 million. Dr. Curda leads a team of professionals that serves more than 720,000 veterans across the State of Illinois.
Dr. Curda has served in the US military for over 30 years covering active duty, Guard and Reserve positions.
He has commanded units at every echelon from platoon, company, battalion, brigade and two general officer level commands. He is an Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF) and Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF) veteran having deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
His numerous awards and decorations include the Army Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Service Commendation Medal, the Army Service Achievement Medal, various campaign and service medals and the parachutist badge to include foreign jump wings from Canada and Italy.
Dr. Curda is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College and holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Instructional Technology.
Prior to serving in this position, Dr. Curda served as a tenured Associate Professor at the National College of Education and as Senior Advisor to the President of the University on Veteran Student education issues. He has previously held faculty positions at Florida State University, the University of Toledo, and the University of West Florida as a professor of Instructional Technology. He has served in a variety of administrative positions, to include Vice-President of Argosy University Online, and Director of Distance Learning with both the Joint Special Operations University in Hurlburt Field, Florida, and the Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.
Dr. Curda and his wife, Dr. Leslie Curda, five children- Riley, Piper, Major, Glory, and Saylor.
Dr. Curda outlined his immediate four point program for the IDVA this year. The first point is the Quincy Veterans Home (Quincy, IL) that is well under an accelerated rehabilitation program that is making progress to an orderly fashion. Some patients are relocated so the reconstruction work can be completed rapidly without inconvenience to the residents. The Chicago Veteran Home on North Oak Park Ave in Chicago has a final set of revised plans with the work moving closely to the expected timetable to opening next year. The second goal is better communication with the over three quarters of a million Veterans in Illinois. A recent survey taken by the McCormick Foundation indicated that just over 50% of veterans are not taking advantage of the services offered by the Veterans Administration (VA) for health care and cooperating agencies for family services, job placement and other services. I am setting up a program to allow our 34 field offices to have a checklist to ask Veterans if they are aware of the many services offered and can our IDVA staff help direct the Veterans to the service centers.
Several counties in Illinois have set up Veteran discount cards. You’ll need your DD 214 and you can register at any county office in an emergency. The county office has a record of your DD214. Another IDVA department goal is an updated data base, and automated system to distribute information on benefits, events, services and special programs in timely fashion.
The fourth goal is to have our 70 Veteran Service Officers (VSO) in 80 counties in Illinois who see 1200 Veterans a week be sure they are aware of all the benefits and service available to them.
When asked if the Director had just four goals, He indicated that more goals and improved service will be instituted shortly.
UpComing: Plan on Sunday November 4, at 11 AM the Mayfair Veterans Memorial (Lawrence and Keeler) to start the Veterans Day week. The event is sponsored by Alderman Marge Laurino, 39th ward and the Mayfair Veterans Committee.