“Veteran’s Lives Matter!”
That was the chant a group of about 30 people were yelling at a rally on Aug. 26 in support of Madison County’s Veterans Assistance Commission Superintendent Brad Lavite.
The rally was held on the plaza of the Madison County administration building.
Madison County administrator Joseph Parente banned Lavite from his office on the first floor of the administration building in March 2015 following a post-traumatic stress incident in which he kicked out the windows of a Wood River police car.
Lavite has been maintaining his duties as commissioner from other locations.
Madison County Treasurer Kurt Prenzler kicked off the rally by declaring his support for Lavite as a “great superintendent of the Veterans Assistance Commission” before turning it over to Ron Williams.
Williams, who is the Republican nominee for Madison County State’s Attorney and army veteran, called the situation an “egregious civil rights issue.”
“I just know that this is not about Brad, and Brad coming back to work. This is about controlling money,” he said to a round of applause.
“What we have is a bunch of people who don’t know which end of the rifle to put the bayonet on mistreating an honored vet,” he added.
Williams added that it is wrong to lock Lavite out when "violent felons" come to the building every day for probation.
County Board member Mick Madison was also present to show his support for Lavite, noting that “not one single person” has been hurt by Lavite and he’s been cleared to return to work.
Veterans Administration psychiatrist Jane Loitman, who specializes in PTSD, released Lavite to return to work on March 23, 2015.
Madison added that Lavite has been banned from the administration building by “county membership,” not the court. But Lavite will get his day in court now that lawsuits have been filed in both state and federal court to lift the ban.
After several other veterans and members of Lavite’s family offered their support and urged Madison County to let him return to his office, Prenzler was asked what happens now. He said they could hold more rallies, but he directed them to talk to Lavite’s attorney Tom Burkhart of Hamel.
Prenzler also reminded veterans of the tax benefits Lavite has been working hard to secure for them.
He urged veterans with any disabilities to call Lavite’s office, noting that it is still his office, to find out more on the benefits.
He added that there are also funds to help veterans without disabilities pay their property taxes.