NEW LENOX – Director Dan Grant of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) today named lifelong Illinoisan Paul Chen as the State of Illinois’ June 2009 “Veteran of the Month” for his unwavering dedication to the state’s Veterans and commitment to the members of his community.
The “Veteran of the Month” award is a distinction given monthly to military Veterans who give back to their community and continue to serve other Veterans. Chen was honored with the prestigious award this afternoon during a special ceremony at the American Legion Post 1977 in New Lenox.
“Paul Chen not only served his country in uniform, but he continued to serve the members of his community and his fellow comrades for many years after his military service was complete. I am extremely proud that today we honor and thank Paul for his service by presenting him with the State of Illinois’ June ‘Veteran of the Month’ award,” said IDVA Director Grant.
Chen proudly and honorably served in the United States Navy from 1974-1977.
When Paul returned home, he continued to serve his country and community as a civilian. Here are two examples of what he has done:
As an ironworker, Paul’s job took him all over the Chicagoland area and when he worked at O’Hare Airport, he would see military members coming home or being deployed on a regular basis. He made it a point to meet them, thank them and shake their hands and he would also hand out pre-paid phone cards so they could contact their families no matter where they were.
Another example was just this year, on March 28, when Paul heard about a soldier who had been killed while serving in Afghanistan and the funeral procession was on its way to Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery and would be passing near I-80 in New Lenox. Paul was on his way to the Post for a fundraiser, but when he arrived, he excused himself, grabbed an American flag and left. The next day in the Chicago Tribune and Southtown Star, there was a picture of Paul saluting while holding the American flag on I-80 as the procession passed below. The chance to salute a fallen soldier is more than an honor to Paul, he sees it as a pleasure and his duty, and that is what makes him a true patriot.
Paul has been involved in the community for many years. He has personally delivered countless Blue Star banners and unfortunately many Gold Star banners to families of military members. He and his wife started the We Care Program in 2001 sending care packages to deployed servicemembers. He also visits the Veterans at the Manteno Veterans Home helping with their fundraising efforts.
He is an active member of American Legion Post 1977 in New Lenox. He is currently the Senior Vice Commander and House Committee Chairman and also a member of the Post Color Guard and has stood guard at the Illinois Vietnam Memorial Wall.
Paul’s dedication to Veterans is known throughout the community. He has served this country, in one way or another, all his life – always going above and beyond to help others.
Born on May 25, 1954 in Chicago, Chen has spent the better part of his life in Will County currently living in New Lenox.
The “Veteran of the Month” award highlights the work of community activists 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 or call IDVA at (312) 814-5538 to obtain a list of guidelines and a nomination form.