The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs has recognized NIU employee Jonathan J. Lehuta, a prominent veteran leader in DeKalb County with more than 30 years of service to his community, county and to his fellow vets, as the Illinois Veteran of the Month for April 2013.
Lehuta, a U.S. Navy veteran, was honored Friday during a ceremony at the DeKalb County Veterans Assistance Commission. He is a Network Specialist II in Information Technology Services.
“Jon Lehuta epitomizes the great service connection and community involvement of our veterans in Illinois,” said IDVA Assistant Director Rodrigo Garcia.
“For over 30 years, he has made a difference – whether as the master of ceremonies for the City of DeKalb’s Memorial Day Ceremonies, or engaging students with scholarships through American Legion programs, Jon’s been there. His leadership, dedication and continued volunteer service to our veterans set a high standard for all the veterans in DeKalb County and across Illinois.”
Lehuta’s service began in the Navy in January 1974 as an enlisted weather observer and section leader stationed at the Naval Weather Facility in Glenview, lll.
After completing four years active duty, he enrolled at NIU to study meteorology while also serving as an active member of the NIU Veterans Club and later working in the Veterans Assistance Office. After graduating from NIU in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in meteorology, he attended the Naval Aviation Officer Candidate School and was assigned on the USS Okinawa as a weather officer.
Following assignments in Spain, Illinois and California, he left active duty as a lieutenant and returned to NIU to pursue an advanced degree in computer science.
Joining the NIU staff, he became an adviser to the university’s Veterans Club, served as the master of ceremonies for many events, including the City of DeKalb’s Memorial Day Parade (five years), and he also performed “Taps” and sang the national anthem at other events and ceremonies. In addition, he was a founding member of the DeKalb County Veterans Assistance Commission (and still remains a member); a member of American Legion Post 66, having served as treasurer, adjutant, vice commander and commander (twice) while also having led the graveside ceremonial team for several years.
He was nominated for consideration as Veteran of the Month by Herb Holderman, superintendent of the DeKalb County Health Facility.