Leyden veterans office goes from local to state

Leyden Township has replaced its local veterans adviser with a state veterans office.

For the last few years Frank Bottigliero, a former state director of veterans affairs, has manned the one-person office at the Leyden Township offices, 2501 Mannheim Road. He also helped out in Norridge two days a week.

A few months ago, Bottigliero retired. About the same time the Lombard office the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs was closed.

“They were hunting a space, I have a space,” said Greg Ignoffo. Leyden Township administrator. “The township and state entered into an intergovernmental agreement.”

In mid-July, the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs opened in the Leyden Township offices. The office is open five days a week to veterans throughout Illinois.

“This is working to the benefit of all veterans,” Ignoffo said.

Alfonso Rios, who staffs the office, said he’s seen around 40 veterans since he started.

“The majority is for disability compensation,” Rios said. “A lot of Vietnam veterans, Iraq and Afghanistan. We also work with veterans widows for pension benefits. We help with burial benefits, health care, education, older veterans who need a caretaker. We’re a one-stop shop for veterans.”

Rios asks veterans to bring a copy of their discharge papers so he can see what benefits they may be entitled to. There are a number of lesser known benefits available.

“A lot of veterans don’t know we can issue a veterans state ID card,” Rios said. “A service connected disability can make them eligible for a free hunting or fishing license if there 10 percent or more disabled. Returning veterans are eligible for a free $100 war bonus is they served in a combat theater.”

Veterans who have questions or want to set up an appointment can call 847-451-5111 or go to the state website at www2.Illinois.gov/veterans and register.

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