Join us as we interview Michael Peck, the Superintendent of the Veterans Assistance Commission of Lake County — a group that advocates for veterans.

Michael Peck grew up in Galesburg, Illinois and joined the U.S. Army upon high school graduation. His military service took him to Viet Nam. Upon being honorably discharged, Peck obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Illinois University in criminal justice administration. He then worked as a police officer for the Galesburg Police Department for 24 years. He then spent 13 years with the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. Peck then moved to Lake County and was elected Superintendent of the Lake County V.A.C. (Veterans Assistance Commission).

The Lake County V.A.C. serves 32,000 veterans; Lake County having the second highest veteran population in Illinois. The purpose of the Lake County V.A.C. is to assist and advocate for the county’s veterans. Assistance to veterans takes many forms such as assistance with claims and appeals, emergency assistance, counseling, medical assistance, transportation and many other forms. The V.A.C. is an umbrella agency for many other agencies that can provide help to veterans. For example, the V.A.C. can provide emergency shelter, food through the C.O.O.L food pantry and transportation for a veteran.

Additionally, the V.A.C. advocates for veterans through legislation. Currently, there are 2 legislative bills pending in Illinois designed to assist veterans. S.B. (Senate Bill) 87 amends the standard homestead exemption for veterans with disabilities by making the spouse of such a veteran eligible for the homestead exemption, as well as the veteran. Another pending piece of legislation is S.B. 1242 which seeks state accreditation for the V.A.C. so that the V.A.C. can better serve veterans by allowing the V.A.C. access to veteran’s claims.

The V.A.C. serves veterans from World War II through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Though the state of Illinois has the country’s 10th highest veteran population, its veterans ranks 16th in the compensation received from the federal V.A. and 51st in average compensation. Superintendent Peck and the Lake County V.A.C. are working to improve the lives of veterans through service and legislation. The V.A.C. can be reached at  (847) 377-3344.