The Veterans Assistance Commission of Lake County recently recognized Lake County military veterans for 132,090 hours of volunteer service to the Lovell Federal Health Care Center and their communities during an event at the Dover Straits restaurant in Mundelein.
Assistant Superintendent and Medal of Honor recipient Al Lynch presented the top five veteran posts with the Johnny Allen Award named for long time VAC Superintendent Johnny Allen (1990-2006) for leading with the most hours.
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Mundelein American Legion Post 867 led with over 5,000 hours followed by Lake Zurich American Legion Post 964, Libertyville American Legion Post 329, Winthrop Harbor VFW Post 7448 and Zion-Benton American Legion Post 865.
VAC President Norm Arnswald presented commissioners who volunteered more than 500 hours with the Gold Presidential Service Award which included a letter from President Obama and Gold Pin.
• Gold recipients were: Robert Cloud, Nick Konz, Arnswald, Tom Marciciak, Louis Rodriguez, Arlene Lolluy, Michael Kozar, Stan Villarreal, Bernard J. Voit, Richard Johnson and Richard Moy.
• Silver Recipients (250 hours): Ken Parrish, Al Zelent, John DeReu and John Shebenik
• Bronze Recipients (100 hours): Hon. John T. Phillips, Hon. Fred Foreman, Hon. Mark L. Levitt and Carol A. Cord.
A special Eagle Award was presented to Lynch in recognition of the naming of the I-94 overpass at Grand Avenue in honor Allen J. Lynch, Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient. Lynch has served three Illinois Attorney Generals as Chief of the Veterans Rights Bureau and currently volunteers now as assistant superintendent for the VAC of Lake County.
Arnswald, Stan Villarreal, Tom Zengeler, Dr. Raymond Moy, Vernon Hills police Deputy Chief Jon Petrillo and Gayle Olson of the COOL Food Pantry received the Department of Defense Seven Seas Award. The award recognizes their outstanding support of mobilized guard and reserve members and their families.
Each year the VAC sponsors a stand down and the families of these deployed members benefit from the stand down which provide, clothing, food, medical and dental exams, employment, education and counseling benefits.
The VAC Service Award was presented to Tom and Barbara Geschelde of Smokin' T's of Long Grove, Jim Reynolds, Nick Badamo, and Lt. Dennis Geraty, Lake Villa PD in recognition of their support of the VAC mission.
Reynolds, representing Bugles Across America, had volunteered over 400 hours this past year in playing Taps at the funeral of Military Veterans in Lake County. Geraty represented Lake Villa police, who helped in the coat drive for this year's Veterans Stand Down and delivery of Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners to the families of at risk veterans.
It was noted that the VAC mission would not have been successful without volunteer support. The past year saw an increase in claims with 1,975 and a return in compensation to Lake County Veterans of $60 million.
Peck noted the success of the VAC's partnership with COOL Food Pantry and the continued partnership with the Homeless Shelter at Lovell FHCC and the HUDVASH Program at Lovell FHCC.
Judge Phillips reported on the Veterans Treatment Court in Lake County and Steve Ruschomaki reported on the efforts of the Lake-McHenry County Veterans Family Services.
Judge Foreman and Carol Cord were thanked for their leadership on the Veterans Oral History Project.