Linda Chapa LaVia
Linda Chapa LaVia was appointed as the Acting Director of 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. Acting 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.
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 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.