In conjunction with National Hispanic Heritage Month, the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) hosted a “A Salute to Latino Veterans” to honor and recognize Latino Veterans in Illinois for their dedicated military service. Governor Pat Quinn also issued a proclamation declaring Friday Latino Veterans Recognition Day in Illinois.
Marine Corps Veteran Rodrigo Garcia, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was also honored as September 2010 Veteran of the Month.
The program was held at the National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th St., Chicago, and also recognized decorated Chicago-area Latino Veterans from World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
“During National Hispanic Heritage Month, we take time to recognize and honor the brave men and women who answered our nation’s call to duty, and continue to serve with distinction,” IDVA Director Dan Grant said. “Today, and always, we proudly salute the accomplishments made by these courageous men and women. Their contributions and sacrifices will never be forgotten.”
State Sen. Antonio “Tony” Munoz, an Army Veteran and member of the 82nd Airborne Division, served as the program’s keynote speaker.
Director Grant presented the Veteran of the Month Award to Rodrigo Garcia, 28, of Bolingbrook. Garcia, a Chicago native, is a decorated veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and served three tours of duty between 2001 and 2006. After deployment he founded the Student Veterans Club at Northeastern Illinois University and helped erect a tribute for fallen servicemembers at that school. Garcia is also board chairman of the Student Veterans of America and is currently employed by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.