Chicago -- The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) recognized Akeela White – a U.S. Army veteran, distinguished veteran leader, and the Assistant General Counsel in the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) Legal Department for JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A – as the Illinois Veteran of the Month for March 2014 at a ceremony at in Chicago today.
“Akeela White is an exceptional representative of the young women veterans in Illinois,” said Erica Borggren, Army veteran and Director, IDVA. “She brings so much to our community through her advocacy for her fellow veterans, as well as her determination to share her experiences and help others. Being able to honor her with this award during Women’s History Month makes it even more special.”
White’s eight year Army career included service in Active, National Guard, and Reserve units. She deployed to Bosnia (1997) as part of Operation Joint Endeavor and to Iraq (2003) as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. There she was a sergeant responsible for logistical support of combat operations, including hundreds of hours of convoy operations across Iraq. She narrowly survived an IED attack on her vehicle during such an operation on Thanksgiving Day, 2003.
After returning from Iraq, she enrolled at the John Marshall Law School. There she was one of eight inaugural students at the Veterans Legal Support Center, assisting veterans in obtaining federal benefits from the VA. After passing the Bar, she worked in the Illinois Attorney General’s Office as Assistant Bureau Chief of the Military and Veterans’ Rights Bureau, assisting veterans, service members, their dependents, and survivors with complex benefit challenges. In 2013 she became the Chair of the Illinois Joining Forces Financial Literacy Working Group which was recognized at the 2013 IJF Summit for the outstanding outreach programs implemented under her leadership. She is active with Veterans Foreign Wars Post 311 in Richton Park, and joined JPMorgan Chase earlier this year.
“Akeela brings expertise, dedication, enthusiasm and a level of professionalism to every endeavor in her career and her community work,” said Julie Lepri, senior vice president and associate general counsel for JPMorgan Chase. “These traits are why JPMorgan Chase focuses significant resources to help transitioning servicemen and women return to the workforce. Our returning veterans bring skills and a can-do attitude that are valued in the business world.”
White’s military awards include the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, NATO Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with “M” Device, Army Service Ribbon, and the Overseas Service Ribbon. She and her husband live in Homewood with their two children. She was nominated by John Costello, an attorney with Locke Lord LLP.
The IDVA was represented at this event by Director Erica Borggren, who presented the award on behalf of Governor Pat Quinn. The award includes a framed proclamation as well as a State Flag.