Director of Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs Resigns, Pritzker Announces

Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Linda Chapa LaVia has stepped down from her role at the agency, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Monday.

It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve our veterans,” said outgoing IDVA Director Linda Chapa LaVia.“I’m proud of our accomplishments and I look forward to assisting the interim director in any way possible as the department continues its work to serve our heroes.”  

According to a press release from the governor’s office, Major General Peter Nezamis will serve as interim director.

“Our veterans have sacrificed so much for our freedom and this administration will continue to do everything possible to prioritize their care,”Pritzker said in a statement. “I’m grateful to Linda for her service and wish her well on her next chapter. I’m pleased to welcome Major General Peter Nezamis to his new role and am confident that with his decades of leadership and operations experience, he is the right person to lead this department forward and ensure our veterans receive the quality care they deserve.  

A reason for LaVia’s resignation was not specified, but it comes amid continuing fallout over a COVID-19 outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home. More than 30 veterans died after contracting the virus at the facility, while more than 100 residents and nearly 100 staff members tested positive for the illness, according to officials.

LaSalle administrator Angela Mehlbrech and Jackie Cook, the director of nursing at the facility, were both terminated from their positions in Dec. 2020.

Pritzker has been under fire from Illinois Republicans for his administration’s handling of the matter. The federal Department of Veterans Affairs found several issues at the facility, including staffers who weren’t wearing masks, staffers who became ill after attending a Halloween party offsite and hand sanitizer that wasn’t effective in killing the virus, according to reporting from WBEZ.

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