Mundelein man volunteers time in retirement to give back to veterans

Mundelein resident Terry Devanie said his devotion to helping veterans stems from his family's commitment to the military.

Devanie, 68, said he was blessed to be surrounded by seven relatives who all served.

"My brothers served in Vietnam; my cousin did too," he said. "These veterans did so much for us. So it makes me feel good to give back to them."

Devanie also served in the military, as Navy reservist from 1971 to 1977. His boot camp took him to Mississippi, but he served his six-year stint in the reserves in Illinois at Navy Pier, Naval Station Great Lakes and the Glenview Naval Air Station.

After serving his country, he worked as a TV repairman at Motorola, and at Grayslake Central High School, before retiring two years ago. It was then that he learned about the Midwest Veterans Closet in North Chicago.

"I was going to donate some stuff to Goodwill or something when I learned about what they do at the Veterans Closet," he said. "When I heard they donate everything to veterans, I decided it was better for me to donate to them instead."

Devanie said his first donation started him on a second life after retirement. He asked if the Veterans Closet was looking for volunteers and immediately signed up.

He now works every day at the Midwest Veteran's Closet, volunteering his time to give back to the veterans in need.

"I started working a couple of days a week, but it made no sense to be sitting in front of the TV at home when I could be out helping someone," he said. "So I started coming here."

His volunteer effort consists of working in the food pantry, unloading donated material when it comes in and picking up donated items from around Lake County, Devanie said, and he'll make deliveries to veterans who can't travel to North Chicago to pick items up.

"I was lucky. I wasn't sent to a war zone like some of these other veterans out there," he said. "Now I have the time to give back to them for their service."

Devanie said he takes off a couple of days in the summer here or there to "attempt to play golf," but those days are few and far between.

"There's a big need out there with the veterans," he said. "There are people out there without coats in 30-degree weather, and soldiers who don't have food. It's a shame."

  Terry Devanie of Mundelein uses his time in retirement to give back to Lake County veterans by volunteering at the Midwest Veterans Closet in North Chicago. Steve Lundy/
  Terry Devanie of Mundelein helps out a veteran at the Midwest Veterans Closet in North Chicago, where he volunteers his time. Devanie, who is retired, was a Navy reservist in the 1970s. Steve Lundy/
  Terry Devanie was a Navy reservist in the 1970s. Steve Lundy/
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