Special Edition 
Illinois Dept. of Veterans' Affairs Newsletter                      July 2014

Farewell, from the Director 


As you may have heard, I have been nominated by Governor Pat Quinn to take the helm at the Illinois Department of Transportation and so will be departing IDVA for that assignment at the end of this week.  I am deeply honored to have been asked to lead the IDOT mission, even as I know a piece of my heart will stay behind at IDVA. 


I leave knowing that much has been done to equip and serve Illinois' veterans and their families in the last three years - from legislation for veteran benefits and hiring tax credits, to the stand-up of programs for women veterans and veteran entrepreneurs, to a massive, interagency effort to make military training count on campus and toward state licenses.  Beyond that, our Illinois Joining Forces partnership with the Illinois National Guard and now nearly 200 other organizations is creating a stronger, more navigable system of military and veteran support in Illinois.  I am deeply grateful to the IDVA staff - and their many partners - who have done the heavy lifting behind these impactful efforts.


Indeed, the IDVA team has an critical mission and is doing it in awesome fashion.  The work that our more than 1,300 employees do is tough work - often heart-wrenching work - but it makes a tremendous difference in the lives of veterans in our four Veterans' Homes, in our field offices, and in our many special programs and projects that support veterans.   


We at IDVA have been joined in our advocacy and support efforts by hundreds of partner organizations equally committed to empowering veterans to thrive.  No one organization can do it all, and I am grateful for the leadership and hands-on service of the many  Veteran Service Organizations and non-profit organizations that continually support Illinois veterans.  The veteran support community here in Illinois is strong and defined by strong relationships; it's been a privilege to be a part of this community.


Just as importantly, we at IDVA have been joined by you - fellow veterans committed to lives of meaning and service well after you take off the uniform.  I remain strongly convinced that our veterans are tremendous assets to our communities and our companies.  As I've traveled the state to attend events, support programs, and honor veterans, I always found you - proud veterans, continuing to serve - at the heart of those efforts.  Working to support you and develop programs to help all of us achieve and contribute has been immensely rewarding. 


There will always be work in our important mission that is not quite done.  On this, I rest assured knowing that you will be in the great hands of Assistant Director - soon to be Acting Director - Rodrigo Garcia.  He will take over formally on Friday, July 11 and hit the ground running to work with and support you.


I have loved being part of the IDVA team these last three years and am grateful for the memories and relationships that I will take with me to IDOT.  Thanks for soldiering alongside all of us at IDVA in serving those who have served! 


With gratitude, 


Erica J. Borgren

Director, IDVA, 2011-2014


 Rodrigo Garcia

Acting Director, IDVA 


Governor Pat Quinn has appointed Rodrigo Garcia as the acting Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs (IDVA), replacing Erica Borggren, who will head the Illinois Department of Transportation as Acting Secretary, effective July 11, 2014. His appointment is pending Illinois Senate confirmation.   


Garcia has served as Assistant Director since 2011, where he has presided as second-in-command of IDVA, an agency with more than 1,300 staff members, a $148 million budget, 80 statewide offices and numerous specialty programs dedicated to serving Illinois' 744,000 veterans.


Pending Illinois Senate confirmation, Garcia will be the first Latino to run the agency since its founding shortly after WWII.


The son of immigrant parents, Rodrigo Garcia hails from the historic Little Village neighborhood on Chicago's south side.  After graduating from John F. Kennedy High School, Garcia joined the U.S. Marine Corps, serving three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning multiple decorations. After his return to Illinois, he became a staunch advocate for student veterans, founding the Student Veterans Club at Northeastern Illinois University and rising to the pinnacle leadership position at Student Veterans of America (SVA). Garcia was a member of the Illinois Veterans Advisory Council from 2010-2011 and was recognized as the Illinois Veteran of the Month for September 2010 prior to joining IDVA.


At IDVA, Garcia's leadership and team-building have resulted in expanded employment opportunities for veterans, additional procurement opportunities for veteran-owned businesses, the design of the Chicago Veterans Home, and in-state tuition and priority registration for student veterans. He also serves as the Chair of the Board of Appeals and the Chair of the Illinois Discharged Servicemember Task Force.


Outside IDVA, Garcia is National Chairman of the Board of Directors for Student Veterans of America (SVA) and National Hispanic Life Sciences Society (NHLSS), and Board Vice President for Teatro Vista Theatre Company. Garcia has also been named one of the "Top 100 under 50" Executive Leaders by Diversity MBA Magazine and as one of Miller Coors' nationwide "Hispanic Lideres", was the recipient of President Obama's Council on Service and Civic Participation "Call to Service Award" and was recognized as a "Rising Star" by the National Society of Hispanic MBA's and a "Club Leader of the Future" by Latino Lideres Magazine, among other recognition. 


Garcia holds an undergraduate degree in finance from Northeastern Illinois University and two post-graduate degrees, one in business administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago and the other in public policy from Northwestern UniversityRecently, he also completed a senior executives program at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.
Your IDVA Calendar  


July 11       Hiring Our Heroes Hiring Fair - Springfield, IL 


  American Legion State Convention & Job Fair  - Springfield, IL 


July 12       Jewish War Veterans State Convention - Niles, IL


July 13       Veteran Stand Down 5k Run/Walk - A Safe Haven - Chicago, IL


July 18       Veteran of the Month Ceremony: Robert Krautstrunk - Des Plaines, IL


July 23-24  IJF Military Immersion Training - Marseilles Training Center, IL


July 24       Hiring our Heroes Hiring Fair & Workshop - Quad Cities, IA


July 30       Hiring Our Heroes - Non-Profit Hiring Fair - Chicago, IL


Aug. 8        Hiring Our Heroes Hiring Fair - Peoria, IL


Aug. 10      Veterans' Day at the Illinois State Fair  - Springfield, IL 


Aug 20-22  4th Annual Valor Games Midwest - Chicago, IL 


Aug. 24      Veterans Day at the DuQuoin State Fair - DuQuoin, IL 


Sept. 1       Labor Day State Offices Closed


Sept. 11     Patriot Day


Sept. 18     Hiring Our Heroes Hiring Fair & Workshop - Chicago, IL

 Events Subject to Change

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