Military & Veterans News
Loebsack, Thompson Introduce Recovering Service Members Disability Benefits Act PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Vonnie Hampel   
Friday, 05 October 2012 14:18

Legislation Expedites Access for Wounded Warrior Disability Benefits, Reduces Financial Strain on Recovering Service Members

Washington, D.C. – Congressmen Dave Loebsack and Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) have introduced H.R. 6445, the Recovering Service Members Disability Benefits Act, legislation to exempt disabled service members from the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) 5-month benefit waiting period.  H.R. 6445 was introduced with the support numerous military and veteran support groups, including the National Guard Association (NGAUS) and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).

“Our servicemembers who have been wounded defending our country should not have to wait for benefits or face financial hardship,” said Loebsack.  “They should be able to focus on their recovery, not delays in their benefits.  This bill will help our wounded servicemembers and their families and honors the sacrifices they have made for our country.  We owe it to those who have  put their lives on the line protecting our freedoms to ensure that they are able to quickly access the benefits they need.”

“We must offer the brave men and women, who have put the welfare of the Nation and their comrades before their own, the best possible support upon their return from service, to ensure both their speedy recovery and future health and wellbeing,” said Thompson. “The Recovering Service Members Disability Benefits Act will exempt disabled service members that have qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits from the program’s 5-month waiting period, which will go a long way in helping our Wounded Warriors and their families become whole again, without bureaucratic delay or undue financial distress.”

Currently, when service members are wounded in combat and sent back to the United States to recover, some are unable to keep their current job in their respective military branch or find alternative employment due to their injuries. While disabled service members are eligible to apply for SSDI benefits, the Social Security Administration Disability Trust Fund mandates a 5-month waiting period before any benefits can be provided.

H.R. 6445 amends title II of the Social Security Act to provide that the waiting period for disability insurance benefits shall not be applicable in the case of a recovering service member. , which is defined as a member of the Armed Forces who is recovering from an injury or illness incurred in the line of duty in a combat zone.

The  Recovering Service Members Disability Benefits Act does not expand eligibility for SSDI benefits or automatically approve individual requests, and all of the same protections used to prevent fraud and abuse of the program remain as defined under current law.


Roseville Man Retires After 40 Years of Service to the Illinios National Guard PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Sgt. Robert Adams, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs Office   
Tuesday, 02 October 2012 15:05

SPRINGFIELD, IL (10/02/2012)(readMedia)-- George Campbell of Roseville retired September 30 after 40 years of service to the Illinois National Guard, 20 of those as an enlisted Soldier in the Illinois National Guard where he retired as a first sergeant. The remainder of his service was as a state building and grounds laborer for the Macomb Armory.

Born and raised in Macomb, Campbell lived very close to the armory growing up.

"This building has been a major part of my life." Campbell said. "Before I joined, I went to the high school right behind the armory and walked by the armory every day. At the time I didn't realize how much of a major role it would play in my life."

Campbell's service did not stop when he retired from the Illinois National Guard in September 1992. He continued his service to the Illinois National Guard as an Illinois state building and grounds laborer for the Macomb Armory.

"I would put the looks of this armory up against any facility, George has done a fantastic job," said Master Sgt. Christopher Carlock of Astoria, with Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment 44th Chemical Battalion.

In addition to Campbell's work at the armory, many people developed a close personal bond with Campbell and looked up to him.

"We will definitely feel a hole here with George being gone. I am personally going to miss having George here at the armory," said Carlock. "He was a spiritual leader for me and was a great friend to have around the facility."

Campbell sculpted some of the high-ranking officers that lead the Soldiers of the Illinois National Guard today. Campbell guided and mentored his troops while serving as the first sergeant for Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 123rd Field Artillery Regiment. "George, who was my first sergeant, was always there for me when I was a private," said Lt. Col. Maurice Rochelle of Flossmoor with the 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. "He was instrumental in helping me become the noncommissioned officer I was with Battery B."

Campbell plans on working part-time and spending more time with his family and traveling to the southern parts of the United States to listen to southern gospel vocal groups.

Adviser team coordinates communications, operations in Land of the Light PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Carlos Cruz   
Tuesday, 02 October 2012 13:24

Story and photo by Sgt. Courtney Selig

Adviser team coordinates communications, operations in Land of the Light








FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md.- With the number of soldiers decreasing overseas, the mission has shifted and welcomed a new type of team to ensure a seamless transition.

Team Bluetick, a Security Force Assistant Adviser Team from First Army Division East, and Occupational Coordination Center – Provincial Nuristan staff recently conducted a site survey of the Nuristan Provincial Capital, Parun.

During this visit, they assessed the current and planned infrastructure to determine the feasibility of co-locating Nuristan with the provincial headquarters in Parun.

Nuristan, known as the “Land of the Light,” is treacherous with its sheer cliffs sheltered by the spurs of the Eastern Hindu Kush. Its terrain, comprised of nearly 99 percent mountains, leaves only the most minimal amount of flat land.

“Our mission is to train and advise our Afghanistan counterparts of Nuristan on how to coordinate both air and ground operations with all elements of the Afghanistan National Army, Afghanistan Border Police, Afghanistan National Police and their National Directorate of Security,” said MAJ Lucas Morales, Team Operations and Communications Officer, First Army Division East, a native of Kellogg, Idaho.

Team Bluetick and other SFA ATs mentor and assist Afghan National Security Forces as they take the lead in conducting security operations. The SFA ATs are a key step in continuing efforts to improve ANSF capability and to help them assume responsibility for the security of Afghanistan.

“One of our significant challenges is assisting the OCC-P to overcome the significant geographical challenges of this province and improve their communications with the Provincial Capital of Parun,” Morales said. All parties continue to explore options for a combined facility.

Morales said the relationship between Team Bluetick and OCC-P Nuristan is strong. He went on to say the OCC-P not only understands the SFA AT member’s mission, but they welcome it since they have not had the assistance of an Advisor Team in the past.

“As with all good relationships, it helps both teams learn and expand to improve their capabilities,” said Morales. “The biggest advantage is that the OCC-P wants to learn and wants to help their province and country.”

The SFA ATs, teams of highly trained officers and noncommissioned officers, mentor and advise Afghan Army and Police units as they conduct security operations. SFA ATs began training in mid-January 2012 and deployed in Spring, 2012. A second iteration is planned this fall.

First Army Division East is responsible for the overall mission of mobilizing, training, validating, and deploying Reserve Component Soldiers around the globe and demobilizing them upon their return home. Last year, First Army Division East mobilized more than 20,000 Soldiers and demobilized almost 26,000.

Governor Quinn Honors Families of Fallen Illinois Heroes with Gold Star Mothers Ceremony PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Erin Wilson   
Monday, 01 October 2012 07:54

Twelve Mothers of Fallen Servicemembers Presented with Gold Star Banners

CHICAGO – September 30, 2012. Today Gold Star Banners were presented to 12 Illinois mothers whose sons and daughters died in combat while serving their country in the Global War on Terror. More than 170 members of Illinois’ Gold Star families who lost family members on active duty since Sept. 11, 2001 attended the ceremony at Chicago’s Cultural Center.

The ceremony, which was co-sponsored by the USO of Illinois, marked Gold Star Mother’s Day. The day has been commemorated on the last Sunday in September since President Franklin Roosevelt declared the first Gold Star Mother’s Day in 1936. On Aug. 16, 2009, Governor Quinn signed legislation to formally designate Gold Star Mothers Day in Illinois. A list of the 2012 Illinois Gold Star recipients is attached.

“While we gather every September to honor Gold Star mothers, our work to honor the sacrifices of our service men and women never stops,” Governor Quinn said. “Those who have made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of our nation and their families will never be forgotten.”

Presenting Gold Stars to mothers is an American tradition dating back to 1918, at the end of World War I. At that time, President Woodrow Wilson suggested that instead of wearing conventional mourning black from head to toe, families of men and women who had died in service to their country should wear a black armband with a gold star to signify their loss and their pride. Bereaved families also displayed Gold Star banners – gold stars on a white background with a wide red border – in the windows of their homes.

Verizon Wireless co-sponsored the Illinois 2012 Gold Star ceremony for the sixth straight year along with the American Legion and the VFW.  Starwood Hotels and American Airlines provided the travel and accommodations for the out of town guests.

Erica Borggren, director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs was joined by Wayne Wagner, State Commander, American Legion; Bill Wolff, Past State Commander, VFW, Alison Ruble, President and COO of the USO Illinois, John Bartosiewicz, President, Illinois Freedom Run and Linda Kozma, Chairwoman, American Airline Veteran Military Employee Resource Group.


2012 Gold Star Recipients

Recipient                      Son                            Hometown

Patricia Shanower                  U.S. Navy Commander Dan Shanower                    Naperville

Sheila McDonald                    U.S. Marine Corps CPL Jonathan S. Beatty              Ottawa

Margaret Palmatier                 U.S. Marine Corps CPL Jacob C. Palmatier             Springfield

Michele Crackel                      U.S. Army SSG Alexander Crackel                        North Aurora

Olivia Segura                          U.S. Army SPC Ashley Sietsema                              Dekalb

Christina Sweet                       U.S. Army SPC Christopher P. Sweet                       Springfield

Eva Hawking                          U.S. Marine Corps LCPL Nickolas A. Daniels           Elmwood Park

Jackie Metzger                       U.S. Army SSG Jonathan M. Metzger                      St. Anne

Sylvia McHone                       U.S. Marine Corps Nathan R. McHone                     Crystal Lake

Modie Lavin                            U.S. Marine Corps CPT Conner T. Lowry                 Chicago

Julianne Weiss                        U.S. Army 1LT Daniel A. Weiss                                 Naperville

Socorro Bethke                       U.S. Marine Corps CPL Alex Martinez                      Elgin


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Illinois National Guard Participates in Emergency Response Drill PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Sgt. Michael Camacho, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs   
Wednesday, 26 September 2012 14:40

URBANA, IL (09/26/2012)(readMedia)-- The Illinois National Guard and nearly a dozen other emergency response organizations participated in the Illinois Emergency Management Agency's (IEMA) emergency response drill Sept. 24 to 26 at Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System in Urbana.

The drill focused on the reception, staging, onward movement and integration (RSOI) process for deploying response assets to a notional tornado disaster in Muscatatuck, Ind.

In Illinois, the exercise tested the RSOI process of preparing, deploying, tracking and redeploying assets to and from another state to provide relief efforts during a major disaster.

Any resources deployed to support the operation will go through the RSOI process to be accounted for and credentialed, said Trent Thompson of Chatham, the chief of operations with IEMA. This is to ensure they are mission-capable and can properly support the response effort.

Thompson said IEMA has used other means of tracking assets in the past, but this is the first exercise that will test the RSOI's efficiency for joint civilian and military agency response efforts.

"We spent the last couple months developing the concept to a standard operating guide and this is our first effort to exercise it," said Thompson.

The exercise integrates several relief organizations to include the Illinois National Guard, and state and local law enforcement, fire rescue and other emergency response organizations and support assets said Thompson. He said with so many organizations supporting the incident, it is critical IEMA is able to process them all through one system at one centralized location versus one location for each agency.

For this operation, representatives from the major commands in the Illinois National Guard were assisting with the in-processing of personnel going through the RSOI site, said Sgt. 1st Class Mark Ballard of Athens, with the Illinois National Guard's Joint Force Headquarters in Springfield.

"This is the Guard's proof of concept, that we can work with the civilian agencies to manage that process of accounting for and pushing assets forward," said Ballard.

During the three-day exercise the Illinois National Guard worked with its civilian counterparts providing JRSOI support. The Illinois National Guard uses the RSOI process and was able to share and receive ideas and lessons learned with IEMA and other agencies during the exercise.

The Illinois National Guard is capable of assisting the in-processing, briefing and preparation of personnel and equipment prior to its deployment to an incident site or area of operation, said Col. Thomas Purple Jr., of Springfield, with the Illinois National Guard's Joint Force Headquarters in Springfield.

Purple said the RSOI process is key to the mission readiness of civilian and military assets in the case of a major emergency and the need for relief efforts.

"We have to go through this process before we send state personnel, civilian personnel or Soldiers to the incident site so we have good accountability," said Purple. "If we don't have this task done, there's the potential for losing sight of personnel or not knowing their capabilities."

Purple said this exercise better prepared military and civilian relief agencies how to effectively deploy in a joint effort in the case of a real world emergency.

"This is a unity of effort to make sure we're ready when the next disaster comes," said Purple.

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