The American Veterans for Equal Rights ( AVER ) Chicago chapter hosted its 26th Annual Veterans Day Dinner Nov. 11 at Ann Sather Restaurant on Belmont Avenue. The dinner speaker was Vanessa Sheridanan author and performer as well as director of gender equity and inclusion at Center on Halsted.
Sheridan served four years in the Air Force, holding a top-secret security clearance and working overseas in the intelligence community,
"I'm extremely proud to be a transgender veteran," she said, "and I hope you are equally proud to be who you are. I'm proud of my military service and only wish my country would honor my service in return."
She spoke of the conditions within which transgender service members live and work, using as an example the fact that in some cases, a person responsible for military benefits might refuse on religious grounds to process the paperwork of an LGBTQ service member, impacting such members and their families.
Dignitaries at the event included mayoral candidate Paul Vallas; Lori Cannon of the Heartland Alliance's Open Hand Pantry; and Victor Salvo of the Legacy Project. True to longstanding tradition, founder Jim Darby served as emcee, Dean Ogren sang the national anthem and Sue Jones performed "Taps." A Fallen Soldier Table symbolically honored all servicemembers who have died in the line of duty.