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IDOT employee retires after a 34-year military career, continues his day job

While Ivan Ortiz is still going strong in his day job at IDOT, he has retired from the military with 34 years of service.

Ortiz, an inspector in District 1’s Villa Park office, retired as Materials Management Branch Chief in the U.S. Property and Fiscal Office during a ceremony held in March at the Illinois Military Academy on Camp Lincoln in Springfield. During his years of service, he served as both a soldier and a sailor, graduating basic training twice – once for each service.

Ortiz served in the Army Reserves from 1986 to 1987, active-duty Navy from 1988 to 1991 and Navy Reserves from 1992 to 2005. In March 2005, he trans­ferred from the Navy into the Illinois Army National Guard’s Officer Candidate School. After graduating from the school and earning his commission, he spent 17 years as an Ordnance/Logistics Offi­cer in the Illinois Army National Guard.

Throughout his career, Ortiz support­ed military operations in Africa, South Korea and Kuwait. He deployed twice to the Middle East in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, from January 2014 to November 2014 and from October 2018 to May 2019. He was awarded the Meritorious Ser­vice Medal upon his retirement, as well as an Army Achievement Medal for his work during the Bright Star multinational exercise hosted by Egypt in 2021. He has multiple other awards and decora­tions from throughout his career, includ­ing the Army Commendation Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, which indicate that he has earned the medal four times.

Ortiz took full advantage of the educa­tional benefits provided by the military to get him where he is today. He earned a bachelor’s in construction management and engineering from Purdue University and a master’s in project management from DeVry University. He is also a licensed journeyman carpenter.

Ortiz joined IDOT in 2002. He admits managing both roles was an adjustment.

“After transitioning into the Army National Guard from the Navy, my performance of duties was a bit challenging, as I needed time to acclimate within a new environment,” Ortiz said. “However, after a while, I became proficient at duties when training during a weekend and maybe three weeks a year, not including deployments or any special work.

“The thing is, the military, they make life man­ageable. It’s not stressful and my job at IDOT is not stressful, so that helped. They were both learning opportunities, and I was able to put the time and effort to extract what those agencies had to offer.”

Ortiz praised the department for facilitat­ing his years of service.

“Whether I was deployed for a year, per­formed special work for three years or trained during a weekend, IDOT was al­ways considerate,” Ortiz said. “I feel that the department deserves recognition for being very supportive of servicemem­bers doing their jobs in defense of the nation. It was a long ride, but ultimately it was well worth it, and the state made it much easier for me to excel with the military.”