Chicago - In a simple and moving ceremony at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, Mr. Chindavanh Keomuongchanh was honored by Erica Borggren, Director, Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) as the Veteran of the Month for May 2014 at the Elgin Veterans Memorial Park.
“In their military service, Chin carries forward a tradition of both immigrants and Asian-Americans making a difference in ever expanding roles over the decades,” said Borggren, “And back here at home, he is a wonderful example of what veterans bring back to our communities in terms of a lifelong commitment to serving others.”
In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, Keomuongchanh and his family fled Laos to avoid persecution by the ruling Communist government. He and his family arrived in Illinois, where he completed high school and then enlisted in the U.S. Navy for a career spanning three decades, including deployments to the Indian Ocean, Western Pacific, Mediterranean, and Persian Gulf Theaters, culminating with his retirement as a Petty Officer 1st Class in logistics. He earned numerous awards and decorations for his service, including the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, five Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, two Joint Meritorious Unit Awards, the Southwest Asia Service Medal with two Bronze Stars, the Kuwait Liberation Medal, and Expert Rifleman and Pistol Medals, and the Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist Designator.
Since his honorable discharge from the Navy, Keomuongchanh has continued to serve through a wide variety of roles, organizational memberships, and community activities, including by spearheading an extensive advocacy effort to gain recognition for the Laotian veterans who fought and died alongside U.S. Armed Forces during the Vietnam War. His efforts helped inspire state and local lawmakers to proclaim July 19th as Lao American Veterans Day in Illinois. He has also been very active in Elgin and in the Laotian-American community, including serving on the Board of Directors as a Civic Engagement Program Director for the Lao American Organization of Elgin and helping launch a number of community health projects to increase awareness and promote prevention strategies for cancer, hepatitis, and other ailments.
Erica Borggren, Director, IDVA, presented the award, which includes a framed proclamation as well as a State Flag, on behalf of Governor Pat Quinn.