Paul Baffico of Lake Forest is the 2012 Red Cross Military Hero

A Vietnam War veteran, Paul Baffico of Lake Forest suffered from combat-induced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Throughout his 30-plus-year career at Sears, where he became President and CEO of Sears Automotive, Paul kept his PTSD symptoms a secret. Upon his retirement, Paul’s symptoms resurfaced and he faced them head-on, recovering fully.

Upon recovery, Paul became a certified peer-to-peer support specialist. He represents hope for others with similar PTSD issues and fervently mentors those in need.

Paul is Chairman of the Governing Council for the Veterans and Family Services (VFS) program (a volunteer position) and a monthly docent at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Through a five year Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grant awarded in November 2010 the VFS program provides behavioral health services and linkages for veterans and their families in need throughout Lake and McHenry Counties.

“As Chairman of the VFS Governing Council, Paul has tirelessly covered the Lake and McHenry County communities presenting the program and message of hope to many rotary clubs and community organizations,” said nominator Theodore Testa.

The program Paul designed educates citizens on problems that veterans, active duty personnel and their families face when they return to civilian life. Several programs have been developed or are in the process of being developed by volunteers, including writing seminars where veterans and active duty personnel write their stories, karate where veterans can channel their emotions to stress reduction, church and spiritual outreach and more.

“Paul has been able to secure the involvement of hundreds of volunteers to assist in the VFS cause,” Testa said. “He has served as the leader of this 90 percent consumer-driven volunteer effort addressing community change. I know of no one in my career as dedicated and determined to making a difference in this much-needed area of service.”

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