Pritzker names Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia to head Veterans Affairs

Pritzker names Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia to head Veterans Affairs

Pritzker names Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia to head Veterans Affairs

Governor JB Pritzker announced a new appointment to lead the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, nominating Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia to head the agency.

“The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs has faced numerous challenges, and it’s a priority for my administration to ensure that our veterans are treated with dignity and get the care and opportunities they deserve,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Representative Chapa LaVia is a steadfast advocate and effective change-maker, and I appreciate her willingness to continue to serve.”

“As a veteran, I’m honored to step up and serve all the men and women who have served our nation,” said Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia. “Illinois has much work to do to live up to our responsibilities to our veterans, and I am deeply committed to making Illinois the best state in the nation to be a veteran.”

Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia named head of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs by Gov. Pritzker, Feb. 2019

Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia named head of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs by Gov. Pritzker, Feb. 2019

Lieutenant Colonel (R) Jaime E. Martinez, the executive director of Illinois Joining Forces, asked the administration to remove his name from consideration to serve as the Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.



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“I appreciate Jaime Martinez’s dedicated and honorable service to our nation and to Illinois over many years and know that he will remain a champion for veterans and their families,” said Gov. Pritzker.

“I have asked Governor Pritzker to remove me from consideration for director at this time and want to personally thank him for his confidence in my leadership abilities and experience,” said Colonel Martinez. “This decision has not been made in haste, for those who know me I have always strived to serve my country and my state without recourse and will continue to follow that mission. I applaud the Governor for his leadership and for prioritizing the quality of life and safety of all Veterans and their families in Illinois.”


Representative Linda Chapa LaVia will serve as Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA).* Representative Chapa LaVia was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 2002, becoming the first Latino to be elected to the General Assembly from outside of Cook County. When she was elected, she resigned her commission in the Illinois Army National Guard. Chapa LaVia was born and raised in Aurora, Illinois. She graduated from East Aurora High School and then went onto to become the first in her family to graduate from college. 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 promoted to Vice-Chair of the committee, and since 2009 has served as the committee’s chair. 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 veteran of the United States Navy, and their two teenage daughters.

Click here to view the previous appointments to the Pritzker administration.

* Appointment pending confirmation by the Illinois Senate.

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author & former Chicago City Hall reporter (1977-1992). A veteran who served during the Vietnam War and the recipient of four SPJ Peter Lisagor Awards for column writing, Hanania writes weekly opinion columns on mainstream American & Chicagoland topics for the Southwest News-Herald, Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers, and Suburban Chicagoland.  

Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America. 

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

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His columns are archived here. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.

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