NEW LENOX –The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) this evening honored Lou Vargas, a Crest Hill resident and United States Army veteran, as its July 2011 “Veteran of the Month” during a ceremony at VFW Harry E. Anderson Post 9545, 323 Old Hickory Road in New Lenox, Ill.
“It is with great pride that IDVA is honoring Lou Vargas as our July 2011 Veteran of the Month,” said IDVA Director Dan Grant. “His service to all veterans has made a tremendous impact in his Will County community and beyond.”
The Illinois Veteran of the Month award is a distinction bestowed to military veterans who give back to their community and continue to serve other veterans. Vargas, 64, who served from 1966-1968 including a tour in Vietnam, is being honored for his tireless work paving the way for other veterans to access their federal VA benefits. In fact, Vargas’ efforts led to a far-reaching investigation that resulted in significant VA policy changes in Illinois.
Vargas continues his advocacy for veterans in the following ways:
• Commander of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Will County Chapter since 2005
• Commander of the VFW Post 9545 since 2009
• Recently elected as commander of DAV’s Northern District and senior vice commander of the VFW’s 18th District
• Serves as a Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service (VAVS) representative at Hines VA Hospital where he visits with veterans and counsels family members of injured veterans
• Involved with the Will County Veteran Assistance Commission (VAC) where he was instrumental in starting and maintaining a Christmas fund for needy veterans’ children. Last December, VAC honored Vargas with its Outstanding Chairman’s Award.
• Participates in Welcome Home ceremonies for many Iraq and Afghanistan soldiers
• Takes many trips to the IDVA’s Manteno Veterans’ Home with donated items, spends time with residents, and helps guides veterans’ families through the process of getting their loved one into the veterans’ home
After his service in Vietnam, Vargas received an honorable discharge and earned numerous awards and decorations including the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with bronze service star, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal with device.