Aurora Veterans Advisory Council (AVAC) was created in 1998 to address the most pressing issues impacting local military personnel who have served our country in a branch of the United States military (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard). The Council aids in the planning, development and implementation of veterans-related special activities and programs in the City of Aurora.

Jim Butler with the Fox Valley Marine Corps League looks at donated items to be given to veterans in need. (Mike Mantucca / The Beacon-News)

In May AVAC held its first ever Vets Week. This 9-day event was the first of its kind in Aurora and in the state of Illinois. Kicking off on Armed Forces Day, May 21, and running through Memorial Day, May 30, AVAC hosted events throughout the week to raise money for, and increase awareness of, veterans in need. All proceeds are now being used to combat homelessness, offer job placement, support service dogs, educate the public on PTSD, and provide scholarships to veterans’ family members.

DVNF’s generous contribution to Vets Week was announced at a special press conference AVAC put together specifically for DVNF on May 25. The following day, an excellent article appeared in Aurora’s local paper, The Beacon-News. Press conference attendees and recipients of DVNF’s goods included the local American Legion, VFW, ROTC, and residents from Hope for Tomorrow, a transition home for veterans recovering from PTSD. The goods were distributed to veterans the following week.

DVNF’s John Paruch talks to the crowd of veterans and volunteers at stand down event in Illinois.

DVNF sent AVAC a full load of comfort kits, shoes, blankets, and personal products, as well as sunscreen and lip balm, to be distributed to those participating in the Vets Week 5K run on May 29. AVAC also arranged for a shipping company whose owner has a heart for veterans to ship DVNF’s load free of charge!

“This is so generous, and very much needed. Many vets come to us with nothing but the clothes on their backs or are living in their cars. It is pretty sad.” 
— Janet Gilbert, Vice President of Hope for Tomorrow