Attends Veterans Day Ceremony at Soldier Field to Honor Illinois’ Heroes for Their Sacrifice and Unwavering Commitment to Protecting Our Freedoms
CHICAGO –-(ENEWSPF)–November 11, 2014. Governor Pat Quinn today saluted Illinois’ veterans, servicemembers and their families during a Veterans Day ceremony at Chicago’s Soldier Field. Governor Quinn has made our veterans and servicemembers a top priority throughout his career in public service. Today’s event is part of Governor Quinn’s longstanding commitment to honor, protect and support the men and women who have served our nation.
“For their service and sacrifice, our brave members of America’s armed forces have inspired people across the state for many generations,” Governor Quinn said. “On this Veterans Day I am thankful to my father and all servicemembers who have gone forward in the face of danger to protect the freedoms of those at home. While we could never repay our veterans who have borne the battle, we need to continue to protect those who have protected us. That means making sure our veterans have access to job opportunities, education and safe and affordable housing. Today and always, Illinois should stand as the most veteran-friendly state in the nation.”
Throughout his career in public service, Governor Quinn has been committed to Illinois veterans, servicemembers and their families. In 2011, when our soldiers began returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, Governor Quinn launched the Welcome Home Heroes program to help these brave men and women resettle with their families and become homeowners. To date more than 1,600 veterans and active military men and women have purchased their first home through Welcome Home Heroes.
Governor Quinn’s administration has also worked hard over the past five years to provide more housing opportunities for our servicemen and women. In 2009, Governor Quinn became the first Governor in Illinois history to dedicate state capital dollars to supportive housing for veterans. Since that time, the state has created more than 1,000 units of affordable housing for veterans across Illinois.
As Lieutenant Governor, he championed the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund Act, which established a fund to provide grants to families of Illinois National Guard members and Illinois residents serving in the U.S. Armed Forces Reserve components who were called to active duty as a result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. These grants help servicemembers and their families with the costs of food, housing, utilities, medical services and other expenses they struggle to afford because a wage-earner has temporarily left civilian employment to be placed on active military duty. The fund has distributed more than $15.1 million to 29,625 Illinois military families to assist with the financial burden at home when a loved one is deployed overseas.
Other programs championed by Governor Quinn include the Illinois Warrior Assistance Program that helps veterans transition back to their daily lives and the Veterans Cash instant lottery program where all proceeds go to benefit Illinois veterans’ organizations. Since the Governor first launched the program in 2006, Veterans Cash has awarded more than $11 million in grants to more than 210 veterans’ organizations statewide.
He also launched Operation Hero Miles which uses donated frequent flyer miles to provide free round-trip airline tickets to military families flying to visit a servicemember receiving medical treatment. The program also enables wounded or ill servicemembers with approved leave to fly home at no cost. To date, Operation Hero Miles has issued more than 40,000 donated tickets, saving servicemembers and their families nearly $63 million.
In 2004, Governor Quinn established the “Portrait of a Soldier” memorial exhibit to honor fallen Illinois servicemembers. The series of portraits began when artist Cameron Schilling of Mattoon drew the first portrait of Army Spc. Charles Neeley, also of Mattoon, after Neeley was killed in Iraq. Schilling, a student at Eastern Illinois University at the time, committed to drawing a portrait of every Illinois servicemember who has fallen during the Global War on Terror. The exhibit features a series of hand-drawn portraits of nearly all of the 326 Illinois men and women who have died while serving our country in Iraq and Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001.
In 2012, the Governor proposed in his State of the State address and signed into law the Hiring Veterans Tax Credit. The law provides a significant additional tax credit to businesses who hire unemployed veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, to both help businesses create jobs and give those jobs to the people who have sacrificed so much for our state and country.
For more information about these and other programs for our Veterans, visit http://operationhomefront.org or call the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs at (217) 782-6641(217) 782-6641 or (312) 814-2460(312) 814-2460.