HILLSIDE – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today named Bartlett couple Lorain and Michael Kuryla as the State of Illinois’ July “Veteran of the Month” for their outstanding service to this nation, to their local community, and to their fellow Veterans.
“Our Veterans put their lives on the line to defend our freedom and they all deserve to be respected and honored. But those who continue this kind of commitment after their military service should be especially recognized - like Michael and Lorain Kuryla, two combat Veterans who gave our country years of service in the military and now tirelessly serve their community,” said Governor Blagojevich.
The Governor’s “Veteran of the Month” award is a distinction that is given monthly to military Veterans who give back to their community and other Veterans. On behalf of the Governor, Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) Director L. Tammy Duckworth presented the Michael and Lorain Kuryla with the award today at the Hillside Village Hall in Hillside.
“Lorain and Michael Kuryla are exceptional Illinois Veterans who continue to dedicate their time serving their state and community. I am proud to present the Kurylas with this award on behalf of Governor Blagojevich and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, as a way to extend our deepest gratitude and appreciation for all they have done and continue to do,” said Director Duckworth.
Michael Kuryla is a United States World War II Navy Veteran who served aboard the U.S.S. Indianapolis. He was in ten major battles before the ship was hit with two torpedoes. Michael was lost at sea for four days.
Lorain Kuryla served is a United States Navy World War II and United States Air Force Persian Gulf War Veteran. Lorain proudly served with the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) during World War II and later served in the Air Force both in a civilian capacity and as an Active Reservist. In 1991, Lorain deployed overseas with the Air Force during Operation Desert Shield.
Both Michael and Lorain are devoted members of the U.S.S. Indianapolis Survivors Organization. Michael spent many years organizing and leading the Survivors Organization. He still serves as an ambassador for his ship and fallen shipmates and is currently working with the City of Chicago to build a memorial at Navy Pier. Meanwhile, Lorain helped with all the book-keeping and mailings for the Survivors Organization. Michael is also a dedicated member of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).
After serving their country in uniform, the Kurylas decided to continue to be involved with the military community. For the past 15 years, Michael and Lorain have traveled throughout the country spreading the story of the U.S.S. Indianapolis and our military Veterans. Together they speak at libraries, clubs, schools and other civic organizations on a weekly basis. The Kurylas promote patriotism wherever they go to make sure our military heroes’ efforts are never forgotten.
The Kurylas have spent many hours volunteering to visit local hospitalized Veterans. Every week they travel to Hines VA Medical Center where they speak with Veterans of all wars in hopes to help them adjust back to civilian life.
Both Michael and Lorain volunteer in Hillside’s Emergency Services and Disaster Agency (ESDA) which provides a variety of services to the community during an emergency including shelter, communications, tornado warnings, radiological monitoring, public information as well as assistance to the Police and Fire Departments as needed. Michael served as Director of ESDA for many years and Lorain served as an auxiliary member. At one time, Michael also served as a volunteer firefighter with the Hillside Fire Department.
Michael and Lorain have also been greatly involved in the youth community. Michael served as coach for the local baseball team and was an active member and Scoutmaster with the Boy Scouts. Lorain was also there to help with the Boy Scouts, coordinating fundraisers, camps and other troop activities.
Michael and Lorain Kuryla are lifelong Illinois residents, living most of their lives in Hillside and moving recently to Bartlett. They are proud parents of three and grandparents of five.
The “Veteran of the Month” award highlights the work of community activists who are also military Veterans. Each month, on behalf of Governor Blagojevich, the Department recognizes a different person or group that contributes to the betterment of communities across the state of Illinois. To nominate a “Veteran of the Month,” please visit IDVA’s website at http://veterans.illinois.gov
or call IDVA at (217) 785-4114 to obtain a list of guidelines and a nomination form.