Military & Veterans News
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Move America Forward   
Wednesday, 15 August 2012 14:47

Attacks by radical Islamist Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters yesterday are a stark reminder that our troops are fighting terrorists who are truly deranged and care nothing for the lives of innocents.

In the deadliest day of attacks this year, insurgents and terrorists killed at least 38 innocent people and injured over 100 others civilians.

Our troops are fighting an enemy who will stop at nothing to accomplish their goals, spread their radical view of Islam around the world and destroy our country and our way of life that they despise so much.

But our troops are standing in their way! Send a care package of support to our brave troops serving overseas and help put a stop to the terrorists and their plots to kill Americans and our allies.

Islamist suicide bombers targeted markets crowded with Ramadan shoppers and a major provincial hospital in Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing at least 38 people and wounding close to 100.

The bloodshed underscored a surge in fighting ahead of a withdrawal by most Western combat troops and handover to Afghan forces winding up in 2014. NATO-led forces have been struggling to eliminate Taliban insurgent bastions, especially in the east.

Suicide bombings in markets in the southwest province of Nimroz killed at least 28 people - 18 of them civilians and three policemen - and wounded over 70, police said, in the deadliest day of violence in the normally peaceful region since 2001.

Women and children and at least three members of the Afghan security forces were among the dead in Zaranj, the capital of the largely rural province, which lies on Afghanistan's western border with Iran.

Another bomber blew himself up in front of Zaranj hospital, while two others detonated explosive vests in other areas of the city, killing mostly civilians, President Hamid Karzai's office said in a statement.

The toll in Zaranj was expected to rise, provincial governor Abdul Karim Barahawi said. "The attackers blew themselves up in crowded markets to target civilians. There was no government installation nearby," Barahawi said.

Another 10 civilians were killed and 28 injured when a bomb went off in a bazaar in Dashte Archi district in the northern province of Kunduz, district Governor Sheikh Sadruddin said.

- Reuters

Illinois National Soldier Learns Culinary Skills in Botswana PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Staff Sgt. Jaime L. Witt, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment   
Tuesday, 14 August 2012 15:11

THEBEPHATSHWA AIR BASE (08/14/2012)(readMedia)-- The stir-fry sizzled on the grill, filling the room with the aroma of warm beef, vegetables and spices, as Spc. Lenette Tidwell of Chicago, flipped the meat with a large metal spatula.

"You're my best friend for life!" she said excitedly to the Botswana Defense Force (BDF) Head Chef Sgt. Gabobotswe Segosebe.

Tidwell, an administrative specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment (HHD), 405th Brigade Support Battalion, Illinois Army National Guard out of North Riverside, Ill., was selected to participate in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to cook local African cuisine with the BDF chefs Aug. 12 during Southern Accord 2012 (SA12).

SA12 is a joint exercise in which U.S. military forces come together with the BDF to enhance military capabilities and interoperability through humanitarian assistance, peacekeeping operations and aeromedical evacuation.

The cooks from the 405th worked with the BDF for the last week and a half, providing warm meals to the 1,400 troops on the ground by way of military mobile kitchens. However, Tidwell was able to work with BDF chefs in their kitchen, cooking a recipe of beef stew and fried chicken with rice and maize meal.

Staff Sgt. Martin Fruchtl of Springfield, Ill., mess section sergeant with HHD, 405th, said the leadership chose Tidwell to give her an opportunity to hone her civilian skills. Tidwell is pursuing a certificate in culinary arts from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago, which she should complete in the spring of next year. She is also planning to transition to the mess section at HHD, 405th.

"When the sergeant told me I'd be over here working with the BDF and seeing how they cook, it made me very excited," she said.

Tidwell helped clean the kitchen, prepare ingredients for the soup and help fry the chicken. She said placing the chicken in the oil was her favorite part.

Tidwell said she learned how the BDF work well with only basic ingredients. She said she enjoys how light and healthy the food is. Tidwell also said she especially likes the type of seasoning they use and the white rice.

BDF Chef, Staff Sgt. Moses Ramatlhape, said the goal of having Tidwell experience the food preparation was to exchange knowledge on equipment and learn how the BDF prepare a meal.

Tidwell said she appreciated the opportunity to learn more about the way the BDF cook, and she learned a lot about the culture of the BDF Soldiers. She said she will take back some of the skills the BDF chefs taught her including cutting techniques and some of the recipes.

"This was a good experience and a tasty one too," she said.


Military Support Charity Expands Mission, Delivers Care Packages to Veterans PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Operation Gratitude   
Tuesday, 14 August 2012 10:36

Van Nuys, CA -- In its on-going mission to express the appreciation of the American people for the sacrifices of our Military, troop support organization Operation Gratitude has expanded its efforts by delivering thousands of care packages to Military Veterans around the country.

A "Welcome Home Heroes" celebration sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), a weekly gathering of mostly World War II veterans and a Vietnam Veterans picnic are just a few of the venues at which many of the "Veterans Care Packages" were recently distributed...and emotionally received.

Upon receiving his care package, one Vietnam Veteran remarked, "No one ever said 'thank you' to me before. All that happened when I returned home was I got cursed at and spat on."

At the gathering of World War II veterans, package recipients nostalgically looked through the items in their care packages and commented how nice or useful it would have been to receive the enclosed snacks and hygiene products when they were at war. The veteran warriors were especially moved by the personal letters of thanks written by children.

Operation Gratitude founder, Carolyn Blashek wants Veterans from all eras to know their service is not forgotten. "It's never too late to say 'Thank You' to these heroic men and women," she says.

Steve PolitisBlashek cherishes the words of 92-year-old World War II veteran, Steve Politis (pictured left) who said upon receiving an Operation Gratitude Care Package from her: "You are the first person in history to give a care package to someone who served in a war before you were even born."

Many more care package distribution events are planned in the coming months, leading up to a big outreach for Veterans Day in November. Operation Gratitude volunteers are spending August and September assembling these special gifts, which contain many of the same items sent to those currently serving in harm's way.   Vet care package

Blashek hopes to get the word out nationwide, noting, "We will send care packages to VA hospitals, Veterans nursing homes, Veterans groups, and other Veteran support organizations all across the country." She added: "Just as with our care packages to deployed troops, we want to put a smile on the face of every Veteran who courageously served our nation."

Program/Activity Directors and Representatives from Veterans groups should contact Operation Gratitude at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to request Veterans Care Packages.

Every Veterans Care Package contains donated products and costs the organization $15 to assemble and ship. Financial Donations to support this program can be made online here: Send a Veterans Care Package

Businesses wishing to donate should contact Dana Chotiner at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for more information about corporate sponsorships.

About Operation Gratitude: Operation Gratitude annually sends 100,000+ care packages filled with snacks, entertainment items and personal letters of appreciation addressed to individually named U.S. Service Members deployed in harm's way, to their children left behind, to Veterans, to Military families and Veterans in financial distress due to unemployment, to Emergency First Responders and to Wounded Warriors recuperating in transition units. The organization's mission is to lift morale, bring a smile to a service member's face and express to our Armed Forces the appreciation and support of the American people. Each package contains donated product valued at $75-100 and costs the organization $15 to assemble and ship. For safety and security, assembling of packages occurs at the Army National Guard armory in Van Nuys, California. Since its inception in 2003, Operation Gratitude volunteers have shipped more than 815,000 packages to American Military members and their children.

Governor Quinn Signs Laws to Honor Vets and Fallen Heroes PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Nafia Khan   
Monday, 13 August 2012 13:16

SPRINGFIELD – August 12, 2012. To celebrate “Veterans Day at the State Fair”, Governor Pat Quinn today signed a package of new laws designed to honor our veterans and fallen heroes, including a measure to hire more veterans as Conservation Police. Today’s action is the latest by Governor Quinn to improve services for veterans in Illinois.

“Supporting Illinois veterans is our sacred mission,” Governor Quinn said. “These new laws enable us to hire more veterans, provide veterans with better medical and mental health treatment, and better honor the families of fallen heroes with special license plates.”

Under House Bill 4983 – sponsored by Rep. Edward Acevedo (D-Chicago) and Sen. Tony Muñoz (D-Chicago) – the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) would be able to hire more veterans as Conservation Police through a waiver of their college degree requirement. Currently, applicants must have a four-year college degree or a two-year degree plus three years in a police force. Under this new law, any service member who was honorably discharged may have that requirement waived.

The IDNR Conservation Police enforce fishing and wildlife laws, patrol Illinois waterways and state parks, and hunt down violators of the state’s poaching and endangered species laws. The starting salary is $43,956. While the college requirement is waived under this new law, which goes into effect immediately, applicants must still meet other requirements, such as a 300-yard swimming test. There are currently 136 Conservation Police officers and the IDNR hopes to hire more in coming months. All 15 cadets currently in training are veterans.

“Our Conservation Police face poachers, intoxicated boaters and criminals every day. They need to be tough and smart,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller. “Anyone who has been honorably discharged after serving in a hot spot such as Iraq is exactly the kind of person we need on the front-lines here.”

Governor Quinn also signed House Bill 5006 – sponsored by Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago) and Sen. Mike Jacobs (D-Moline) – to double the number of days allotted for military service-related hospital visits by certain state employees from two days annually to four days, and ensures that these days won’t count as sick days. Proposed by Secretary of State Jesse White and backed by the VFW, the bill passed both chambers unanimously and takes effect immediately.

Governor Quinn also signed House Bill 4926, sponsored by Rep. Michael Connelly (R-Naperville) and Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale), to help veterans who incur post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental health challenges. The new law – effective immediately – improves the functioning of the courts by increasing access to treatment records of veterans in the criminal justice system, and bolstering the role of caseworkers and “peer recovery coaches.” An initiative of Mental Health America of Illinois (MHAI), the new law identifies veterans who have been charged with crimes and may have substance abuse or mental health problems, and makes sure their treatment is part of any adjudication

“We greatly appreciate the support of Governor Quinn for this legislation,” said Carol Gall, MHAI Executive Director. “This will reduce recidivism and save taxpayers money.” For a century, MHAI has been advocating for persons with mental and emotional disorders.

Also signed today was House Bill 4982 - sponsored by Rep. Patrick Verschoore (D-Rock Island) and Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Cicero) - to honor such fallen heroes as firefighters and police officers who die in the line of duty by expanding the number of family members eligible for special license plates. Currently, only surviving spouses are entitled to the plates. The new law – proposed by Secretary of State White – allows parents and other relatives of the fallen hero to display the special plates. The bill takes effect on Jan. 1, 2013.

Improving life for veterans has long been a priority for Governor Quinn, who has called for the hiring of 100,000 veterans by 2020. Veterans and their families have free admission to the State Fair and other activities today. Earlier this week, the governor announced the Illinois Hiring Heroes Consortium designed to help veterans find employment. In 2011, Governor Quinn launched the Welcome Home Heroes program to promote homeownership for Illinois Veterans, active military personnel, reservists and Illinois National Guard members. As Lieutenant Governor, Quinn championed the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund Act, which established a fund to provide grants helping service members 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.


Governor Quinn Signs Law to Honor Veterans with Special License Plates PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Erin Wilson   
Friday, 10 August 2012 13:53

JOLIET, Ill.– August 10, 2012. In addition to several other laws, Governor Pat Quinn today signed a new law at a VFW post in Joliet to honor partially disabled veterans with special vehicle license plates. House Bill 1151 allows veterans who may not qualify for disabled license plates to still be honored for their sacrifice with a special license plate. Today's action is the latest by Governor Quinn to support veterans across Illinois.

"Our veterans who have sacrificed so much for the good of this country deserve honor and thanks," Governor Quinn said. “This new license plate will remind us of our modern-day heroes each time we see them on the road.”

Sponsored by Rep. Lawrence Walsh, Jr. (D-Joliet) and Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Cicero), House Bill 1151 provides that the new license plate will be issued at no cost to eligible veterans, similar to the Illinois Disabled Veteran License Plate but without the international symbol of access. The new license plate honors veterans whose disability - such as neurological disorders, hearing loss or post-traumatic stress disorder - may not entitle them to disabled parking privileges. An initiative of Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, the bill is supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

“We cannot thank our veterans enough,” Rep. Walsh said. “The next time I see a car with a Disabled Veteran license plate, I plan to give a thumbs-up to the driver to show my appreciation.”

Governor Quinn is a long-time champion of veterans’ affairs. As State Treasurer, he launched Operation Homefront to inform National Guard members and reservists of their rights under the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act. As Lieutenant Governor, his Illinois Military Family Relief Act to aid the spouses and children of those called to active duty became a model for other states. As Governor, Quinn has visited Illinois troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Germany, and has called for the hiring of 100,000 veterans in Illinois by 2020.

The law is effective Jan. 1.

While at the VFW Post, the Governor also signed four bills sponsored by area lawmaker Rep. Emily McAsey (D-Lockport): House Bill 4636, House Bill 4662, House Bill 4663 and House Bill 5650.


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