Kaskaskia – The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) recognized Dr. James C. Underwood, the President of Kaskaskia College, a U.S. Army veteran, distinguished veteran leader, and an accomplished educator as the Illinois Veteran of the Month for November 2013 at a ceremony at Kaskaskia College.
“Dr. Underwood’s proven leadership, volunteer service and dedication to the veteran community are very impressive,” said Erica Borggren, Army veteran and Director, IDVA. “Starting with his service in Vietnam in the 1960’s and continuing through his service as an educator, he has made a positive impact on countless individuals. Dr. Underwood is a great example of what our veterans are capable of accomplishing – and of contributing to our communities and colleges.”
Underwood was honored at a ceremony, Friday, November 15, 2013, at the Lifelong Learning Center on the Main Campus, Kaskaskia College in Centralia. IDVA’s Assistant Director Rodrigo Garcia, a Marine Corps veteran, presented the award to Dr. Underwood on behalf of Governor Quinn and Director Borggren.
“Jim Underwood exemplifies the meaning of patriotism”, said Jim Beasley, a Kaskaskia College Board of Trustees member. “His entire life revolves around his love for his country and the individual responsibilities we all have in preserving the American way of life. Kaskaskia College is indeed fortunate in having the leadership of Jim Underwood.”
As President of Kaskaskia College, Dr. Underwood has championed veteran- and military-friendly programs and services at the school during his tenure. Under his leadership Kaskaskia College has been named “GI-Friendly” for the past 5 years, created an on-campus Veterans Service Office, and hosted the Enduring Freedom Celebration each year since 2001. His efforts helped establish a Reserve Officer Training Program in partnership with Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. A distinguished academic leader with awards and published works, he is also a member of the Illinois Veterans Service Advisory Committee, a Life Member of VFW Centralia Post 2055, and a 36-year member of the American Legion and Centralia Post 446.
Dr. Underwood’s 25-year Army career included service in Active, Guard and Reserve units, beginning with his service in Vietnam in the late 1960’s, and culminated with his 13 medals and awards for his service. He commanded from the platoon to the battalion-level in Ordnance, Special Weapons and Infantry units. He and his wife Roxie, a retired educator, reside in Centralia, Marion County, IL. He was nominated by Earl White, Southern Division Field Supervisor, IDVA.
About Veteran of the Month
The Illinois Veteran of the Month Award is presented to veterans who continue to serve their communities after leaving the military and make a real difference in the lives of others. Each month the Department recognizes a different person or group that contributes to communities across the state of Illinois. To nominate a veteran for consideration, please visit veterans.illinois.gov for the guidelines and a nomination form. Each recipient is presented a proclamation signed by the Governor and the IDVA Director, as well as a state flag.