Cook County’s VAC Secures Historic $2 Million Budget
In a significant move, the Veterans Assistance Commission of Cook County has entered a new era of support for veterans as lawmakers approve a historic increase in the VACCC’s budget for 2024. For the first time in county history, the VAC’s budget has risen to an impressive $2 million, a substantial boost from the previous $471,280 allocation. The expansion not only involves a financial boost but also strategic personnel additions, setting the stage for an impactful transformation of veteran services. This decision signals a commitment to protect veteran services and empower those who have served our nation.
The office is set to undergo a transformation, welcoming a business manager and six additional Veteran Service Officers, the first in the Counties history. This addition is set to amplify the VAC’s capabilities, particularly increasing access to VA disability claims and other vital benefits. The ripple effect has the potential to unlock millions of federal dollars directly to veterans in Cook County.
This achievement is a testament to the power of collective advocacy within the veteran community. Thirty-eight organizations representing thousands of veterans in Cook County including the VFW, American Legion, AMVETS, Chicago Veterans, Navy Club of Chicago, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Coalition of Veteran Organizations, National Women Veterans United, Marine Corps League, Jewish War Veterans, and Military Officers of America Association united in a concerted effort to champion the cause of increased funding. In October, at the Cook County Committee Meeting, these organizations joined forces to deliver impactful and heartfelt testimonies to our Cook County Lawmakers, emphasizing the need for increased support for our VAC office. At the forefront of this movement stands Superintendent Elizabeth Soto, a trailblazer in her own right as the first woman and Latina to helm the superintendent position in Cook County’s history.
The impact of this financial boost is already evident in the VAC’s remarkable achievements in fiscal year 2023. The commission witnessed a substantial 54% increase in the number of veterans served, underlining the tangible outcomes of the enhanced financial support. Direct financial disbursements during this period have directly contributed to the well-being of the veterans’ community.
Established at the conclusion of World War I, arising from the urgent necessity to provide financial assistance to returning service members grappling with economic challenges, the VAC was officially instituted by state law in 1926 under the Military Veterans Assistance Act (330 ILCS 45/). Since then, it has transformed into a vital pillar of support for veterans in Illinois. Presently, over 50 counties in Illinois host their own Veterans Assistance Commission, further amplifying the statewide commitment to aiding and uplifting those who have served.
What sets the VAC apart is its distinctive governance structure. The commission operates under the full oversight of veteran service organizations within the county, forming the VAC board. This board not only has the authority to appoint the superintendent but also directs the strategic direction and vision for the office. This unique structure ensures leadership and oversight that truly mirrors the community they serve — our veterans!
Cook County’s Veterans Assistance Commission is poised to make history with its enhanced budget, expanded team, and a visionary superintendent leading the charge. As we witness this significant development, the VAC’s journey reflects a shared commitment to honoring and supporting our veterans, embodying the true spirit of community and service.
If you are in need of support or want to learn more, please visit:
- Veterans Assistance Commission: 1100 S. Hamilton Ave. C-011 (Lower Level), Chicago, IL, United States, Illinois
- Website: Veterans Assistance Commission of Cook County
- Phone Number: (312) 433-6010
- Email: email@example.com