EDISON PARK — The Northwest Side neighborhood of Edison Park has become a haven to those who have served in the military since 2001.
A DNAinfo analysis of census data found that about 3.4 percent of Chicago's population — a higher proportion than in Los Angeles or New York — had at one time or another served in the U.S. military.
About a tenth of those Chicagoans have served since 2001.
Kevin Barszcz, who served in the Navy between 2008 to 2012, founded Chicago Veterans, an organization aimed at serving recent veterans in Chicago, while attending DePaul University after his service.
He said that while Chicago "has room for improvement, it's a great city for veterans to return home to" noting state, county and city services that help pay for education and health care.
An Albany Park native who has settled in Old Irving Park, Barszcz says veterans have found themselves living in neighborhoods throughout Chicago.
But Edison Park, one of the city's tinier community areas when it comes to population, has the highest proportion of such veterans living in the neighborhood.
In Edison Park, 1.5 percent of all residents have served since 2001.
Chris Dieball, 46, lived all over the city before deciding to settle down in Edison Park, and that's where he has been for 16 years.
"This is the best neighborhood in the city," Dieball said. "It has everything you need."
Dieball, a platoon leader in the Illinois National Guard, was deployed to Iraq in 2003-04 and Afghanistan in 2009-10 and has served in Kuwait.
"I lived all over the city before choosing Edison Park," Dieball said. "Wrigleyville, Lakeview, the South Loop."
Dieball, a Chicago Police officer assigned to work on the West Side of the city, said Edison Park has the "best of both worlds." All city employees, including police officers, are required to live in the city.
"It has a city feel, with restaurants and night life," Dieball said. "But it also has nice houses with yards."
But the best part of Edison Park is the stability of the neighborhood, where people live in the same houses for decades and pass them down to their children and grandchildren.
"It is such a rooted neighborhood," Dieball said. "It is not transient at all. People are friendly, and everyone knows their neighbors."
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