The new man in charge of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs says he’s proud of the services his office is able to offer to those who served, about 750,000 of them in the state. The World War 2, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans, Garcia says, are “an aging veteran population, which, as they age, they tend to have need for more services, and then you combine that with a newer generation who is coming home, who, even though is smaller in numbers, also has a different set of complex issues, whether it’s traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress (disorder),” he says.
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The state VA has about 80 veterans’ service officers around the state, as well as four veterans’ homes, soon to be five. Garcia succeeds Erica Borggren, who has been nominated to be secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation. Both Garcia’s and Borggren’s nominations require Senate confirmation. Garcia is a Marine veteran who worked for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and was hired in 2011 to be assistant IDVA director after developing a relationship with Gov. Pat Quinn. That gives him something in common with Borggren, her predecessor Dan Grant, and Illinois Emergency Management Agency director Jonathon Monken, all relative unknowns and outsiders until Quinn got to know them.