CHICAGO –The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) will honor later this month Iris M. Feliciano, a life-long Chicagoan and U.S. Marine Corps veteran, at its March 2012 “Veteran of the Month” during a Women’s Veterans Program presented by the Student Veterans of America, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The program will begin at 12 noon (CDT) on Saturday, March 31, 2012 at the Berwyn VFW Post 2378, 1529 South Harlem Avenue, Berwyn, Ill. 60402.
“Miss Feliciano not only served her country as a Marine, she continues to dedicate her time and efforts to fellow veterans,” said IDVA Director Erica Borggren. “As a first-generation college graduate and an individual so clearly committed to service, Iris provides a wonderful example and assistance to returning student veterans at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU).”
The Illinois Veteran of the Month award is a distinction bestowed upon military veterans who give back to their communities. Feliciano joined the Marine Corps in 1996, served on active duty until 2005 and reserve duty until 2010. She was deployed to Afghanistan in 2002 to support Operation Enduring Freedom.
Feliciano’s personal and professional achievements include:
• For her military service, she earned the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal with star in lieu of second award, Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Korean Defense Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with star in lieu of second award, GWOT Expeditionary Medal and the GWOT Service Medal.
• On the home front, she is a member of Berwyn VFW Post 2378 and American Legion Dorman Dunn Post 547. At NEIU, while working to earn a BA degree, she served with the Student Veterans Club (SVC), an official chapter affiliate of the Student Veterans of America (SVA). As an SVA member, Club Secretary, and Club President, she coordinated the organization’s monthly activities, the donation and installation of a Memorial Bench on the campus’s Veterans’ Peace Garden, and many aspects of campus Veterans Day events. She helped organize the first-ever NEIU SVC Hike for the Homeless, which has become an annual tradition. She also spearheaded the Operation Veterans Education campaign to increase awareness about veterans’ education benefits and veterans’ resources and to build a supportive community for returning student veterans of NEIU.
• On the creative front, she volunteers as the Veterans Community Liaison and Art Committee member at the National Veterans Art Museum; advocates for the therapeutic effects of art and storytelling among veterans; facilitates creative writing workshops with veterans around their military experiences; serves as curator of an NEIU exhibit titled “Art in Response to Violence Conference” to showcase veterans’ artwork and their experience in war; participates on the editorial board for the Warrior Writers Project; and works as Veterans Coordinator at the Albany Park Community Center, which focuses on employment, transition assistance, and mental health services for returning veterans.
The “Veteran of the Month” award highlights the work of community servants who are also military veterans. Each month 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 veterans.illinois.gov to obtain a list of guidelines and a nomination form.