DECATUR – The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) today named longtime Illinoisan and Purple Heart Vietnam Veteran Gordon C. Brenner as the State of Illinois’ January, 2009 “Veteran of the Month” for his outstanding service to the nation, and his dedication to helping Veterans, underprivileged youth and those in need.
The “Veteran of the Month” award is a distinction that is given monthly to military Veterans who give back to their community and continue to serve other Veterans. Brenner was honored with the prestigious award this afternoon during a special ceremony at the American Legion Post #105 in Decatur.
“Gordon Brenner has dedicated his life to service and making sure that his fellow comrades get the help they need. He is a perfect example of the type of individual that the ‘Veteran of the Month’ award is designed to honor and I am so proud that today, we present Gordon with this award,” said IDVA Director L. Tammy Duckworth.
Brenner is a United States Army Veteran who proudly served from 1966-1968 during the Vietnam War. While serving in Vietnam, Brenner was wounded twice, with the second being a gunshot wound to the right thigh that forced him out of combat. For his military service, Brenner received several honors and awards including the Purple Heart Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, the Air Medal and one Overseas Service Bar.
When Brenner returned home from his military service, he decided to continue to serve his country and the members of his local community. For 12 years, Brenner served as a Volunteer Sheriff’s Deputy for Macon County, helping to ensure the safety of all Macon County residents. In 1990, Brenner was elected to the Macon County Board and in 2002 to the Decatur Township Highway Commissioner. He is now serving his second term as the Highway Commissioner.
Brenner is also greatly involved in the religious community and helping local underprivileged youth. He has been a member of the Mound Church of God for nearly 50 years. For the last ten years, Brenner has participated in Angel Tree’s Prison Fellowship, purchasing and delivering Christmas gifts to children whose parents are incarcerated.
Brenner also organized a bus trip for a group of older persons to visit Washington D.C. to visit the World War II Memorial, the Capitol, and other Memorials. Without Brenner’s efforts and dedication, many of these older persons may not have ever been able to visit our nation’s capitol.
In addition to his commitment to the members of his community, Brenner has dedicated his life serving his fellow Veterans. Brenner is a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), and the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH). With the MOPH, Brenner has served in numerous positions at the local, State and National level, including: Finance Officer for Chapter 159; Illinois State Department Jr. Vice Commander; Illinois State Senior Vice Commander; Illinois State Commander; POW-MIA Coordinator; and National Awards Committee Chairman.
From 2002 – 2006, Brenner served as Chairman of the Macon County Veterans’ Assistance Commission, which deals with Veteran issues and works to make sure that all local Veterans get the medical treatment and benefits they deserve. Brenner also served on the Macon County Honor Guard burial detail for seven years. He currently is the National Service Officer for the MOPH, helping to make sure that Veterans know their rights, file disability compensation and pension claims through the VA, and get the benefits they are entitled to receive.
Brenner has volunteered many hours to honor the older generation of Veterans and their service to this country. He was instrumental in the coordination and building of the “Freedom Walk” – a walkway of bricks engraved with Veterans’ names that surrounds an existing Veterans Memorial in Decatur. Brenner also co-organized a committee that is raising funds to build a World War II Memorial that will display the names of the 360 Macon County Veterans who were killed in action or died of wounds in World War II. Along with other MOPH members, Brenner advocated to name Interstate Highway 72 from Quincy to Champaign the Purple Heart Memorial Highway. After seven years, the Highway was renamed and dedicated in April 2005.
Brenner serves on the National Veterans Business Development Corporation Board of Directors, which is headquartered in Washington D.C. This board sets national policy and establishes programs for service disabled Veterans to start or grow businesses across the country. Brenner has also held positions on the Illinois Veterans’ Advisory Council and the Attorney General Veterans’ Rights Council.
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.