Military & Veterans News
Schilling Invites Area Heroes to Veterans Forum PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Andrea Pivarunas   
Tuesday, 28 August 2012 12:19

To Ensure They are Getting the Care and Attention They Deserve from the Department of Veterans Affairs

Moline, Illinois — Congressman Bobby Schilling (IL-17) will be hosting a forum specifically for veterans this Saturday, August 25 featuring Mr. Duane Honeycutt, Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office in Chicago (VARO), Ms. Dawn Oxley, Acting Director of the Iowa City VA Health Care System, Ms. Jean Swiderski, Education Specialist with TRICARE.  Also expected to attend are Mayor David Blanton of Rock Falls and Mayor Skip Lee of Sterling.  Director Honeycutt, Ms. Oxley, and Ms. Swiderski have graciously agreed to meet with area veterans to gather input from them about their needs and provide them with information about veterans benefits and processes.  

The forum is intended to be educational and will address issues pertaining to the operation of the VARO, such as how to properly file a claim, the claim and appeal process, what documents are necessary to file a claim, the length of time to review a claim, and more.  The forum is open to veterans, their spouses, VSOs, and other individuals who may have concerns related to the specific nature of the forum.

“Our veterans and their families have sacrificed so much for our country, and it is our responsibility to provide them with the care they deserve,” Schilling said. “This forum will give our area’s heroes the opportunity to speak directly with VA officials to share their ideas about what can be done both in Illinois and in Washington to improve their access to care.”
  • WHO: Congressman Bobby Schilling, Mr. Duane Honeycutt, Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office in Chicago (VARO), Ms. Dawn Oxley, Acting Director of the Iowa City VA Health Care System, Ms. Jean Swiderski, TRICARE, and Mayors David Blanton and Skip Lee
  • WHAT: Veterans Forum, to gather input on veterans’ needs and provide information about veterans benefits and processes
  • WHEN: Saturday, August 25 from 9:00am CST – 11:00am CST
  • WHERE: Rock Falls Chamber of Commerce Auditorium - 601 W. 10th Street, Rock Falls, Illinois 61071
  • WHY: In an effort to ensure our area’s heroes are getting the care and attention they deserve from the Department of Veterans Affairs
Those interested in attending the forum can contact Schilling’s office in Moline by calling (309) 757-7630.  Due to the sensitive nature of casework the forum itself is closed to the press, but there will be a press availability to follow.  Media should check in with Ken Moffett upon arriving for further information.

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Illinois Guardsmen Compete in Adjutant General's Rifle, Pistol Match PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Sgt. Michael Camacho, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs   
Tuesday, 28 August 2012 11:56

MARSEILLES, IL (08/22/2012)(readMedia)-- Roughly 150 Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers competed in the 2012 Adjutant General's Combat Rifle and Pistol Competition August 17 to 19 at Marseilles Training Center in Marseilles.

The annual competition is designed to highlight and evaluate the marksmanship skills of Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers, said Sgt. Terry Pody of Machesney Park, the state rifle competition team coach with the 135th Chemical Company in Machesney Park.

"The Army defines the paramount Soldier skill as marksmanship," said Pody. "Here we train marksmanship to the highest standard."

Pody said the Soldiers compete in five individual and four team events that test competitors' abilities to engage multiple targets from different distances and positions including standing, kneeling and prone.

"Their performance has been outstanding. They're doing very well, demonstrating a high standard of personal skill," said Pody.

The Adjutant General's combat rifle and pistol competition is the only statewide marksmanship competition in the Illinois National Guard.

Warrant Officer 1 Kyle Gleason of Lincoln, with the 3625th Surface Maintenance Company in North Riverside said the competition brings out Soldiers with all types of experience and skill. With the diversity of shooters there are few trends, just a display of skill and luck.

"Rookies will always surprise you and old shooters will always have some sort of critical error," said Gleason. "This is the best place to find that Soldier who runs faster and shoots straighter than everybody else. It gives them a chance to shine."

Gleason said the competition tested Soldiers individually and also their abilities to work as a team.

"You'll have a team who comes up to an event they've never done before and they have little time to prepare for it," said Gleason. "They have to coordinate extensively and execute the mission and will have instant feedback on what they did good or bad."

Following the competition, Soldiers were awarded plaques, Governor's 20 tabs and certificates by Maj. Gen. Dennis Celletti of Springfield, the Acting Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard.

"These rifle, pistol annual matches are a critical element that identifies the top shooters out there in the field and in our organization," said Celletti. "Marksmanship is a key skill, and we need to recognize those Soldiers who stand out, shoot better and exceed the marksmanship standard."

The top Soldiers will now compete at the regional and national levels in the next few months.

The list of top teams, winners and Governor's 20 recipients follows:

Top three individuals

1. Spc. Lucas Kinkelaar, Carterville, Company B, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment, Effingham

2. 1st Lt. Justin Conley, Downers Grove, 135th Chemical Company, Machesney Park

3. Spc. Scott Lange, Aurora, Troop C, 2nd Squadron, 106th Cavalry, Aurora

Top three teams

1. Company A, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment, West Frankfort

2. Field Support Company, 766th Engineers Battalion, Decatur

3. 233rd Military Police Company, Springfield

Team Rifle Competition

1. Company A, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment, West Frankfort

2. HHT, 2nd Squadron, 106th Cavalry Regiment, Kewanee

3. Field Support Company, 766th Engineers Battalion, Decatur

Overall Pistol Team

1. 233rd Military Police Company, Springfield

2. Troop C, 2nd Squadron, 106th Cavalry Regiment, Aurora

3. Field Support Company, 766th Engineers Battalion, Decatur

Governor's Top 20

1. Spc. Lucas Kinkelaar, Carterville, Company B, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment, Effingham

2. 1st Lt. Justin Conley, Downers Grove 135th Chemical Company, Machesney Park

3. Spc. Scott Lange, Aurora, Troop C, 2nd Squadron, 106th Cavalry Regiment, Aurora

4. Staff Sgt. John Hunter, Elburn, A Company, 405th Brigade Support Battalion, Streator

5. Pfc. Michael Weinberg, Mokena, 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Chicago

6. Cadet Zachary Boyd, Normal, HHC 33rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, Machesney Park

7. Staff Sgt. Marcin Koch, Elwood Park, 3625th Surface Maintenance Company, Springfield

8. Warrant Officer 2 Brandon Gibbs of Pleasant Plains with Company B, 634th Brigade Support Battalion, Champaign

9. Sgt. Bryan Helfrich, Dixon, 333rd Military Police Company, Freeport

10. Staff Sgt. Jason Thompson, Murphysboro, HHC, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment, Marion

11. Spc. Todd Buhlig, Decatur, Field Support Company, 766th Engineers Battalion, Decatur

12. Staff Sgt. Lance Odum, Carbondale, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment, West Frankfort

13. Staff Sgt. Daniel Alarik, Hoffman Estates, HHC, 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Chicago

14. Staff Sgt. Adam Felty, Shumway, Field Support Company, 766th Engineers Battalion, Decatur

15. Staff Sgt. Dimar Vasquez of Chicago, Company C, 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment in Joliet

16. Warrant Officer 3 Cameron Stanberry, Arenzville, Field Support Company, 766th Engineers Battalion, Decatur

17. Spc. Kenneth Browne, Lisle, Troop C, 2nd Squadron, 106th Cavalry Regiment, Aurora

18. Spc. Mike Paxson, Chicago, Company B, 405th Brigade Support Battalion, Crestwood

19. Spc. Kyle Greene, Edwards, Company A, 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment in Bartonville

20. Staff Sgt. Hunter Lawsonlloyd, Valparaiso, Company C, 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment in Joliet

 
404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade Declares Soldier, NCO of the Year PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Sgt. John Stimac, 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade Public Affairs   
Tuesday, 28 August 2012 11:56

CHICAGO, IL (08/22/2012)(readMedia)-- The 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (MEB) in Chicago, declared its Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) of the Year following a three-day competition Aug. 17 to 19 at the Marseilles Training Center in Marseilles.

The Soldiers and NCOs representing battalions throughout the 404th competed in events that tested mental and physical readiness, Army knowledge and Soldier skills.

Spc. Christopher Bakeman of West Chicago, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade took the title of the 404th's Soldier of the Year.

Staff Sgt. Adam Therriault of Ottawa, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 766th Engineers Battalion in Decatur, won the 404th's NCO of the Year.

Bakeman and Therriault will go on to compete for the Illinois National Guard's Soldier and NCO of the Year competitions Sept. 13 to 16 at Marseilles Training Center in Marseilles.

Bakeman said he was honored to represent the 404th MEB in the competition.

"I had a month and a half to study, prepare and train," said Bakeman.

He said there was some great competition.

Therriault said he enjoyed the competition, but said he knows he needs to work on a few things in order to do well in the state competition.

"I definitely need to improve in my land navigation and weapons qualification, so those are the things I will be working on for the next few weeks," said Therriault.

Command Sgt. Major Jerry Clements, senior enlisted adviser of the 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade thanked all the participants for taking the time to participate in this event and said no matter if they won or not, it was an experience that will make them a better Soldier.

"I know the winners will do a great job in the state competition and will make the brigade proud," said Clements.

 
Illinois National Guard Soldiers Find Unexploded Ordnance in Kuwait PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by U.S. Army Spc. Pamela Peigler, 444th Chemical Company   
Friday, 24 August 2012 11:11

CAMP VIRGINIA, KUWAIT (08/20/2012)(readMedia)-- Explosions have become frequent occurrences for the Soldiers stationed in and around Camp Virginia, Kuwait. Fortunately, these explosions are actually the result of the Army's Explosive Ordnance Disposal team (EOD) which disposes a variety of unexploded ordnance (UXO) under controlled conditions.

These threats are identified by the Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers of the quick reaction force (QRF) platoon with 444th Chemical Company in Galesburg. While the primary mission of the platoon is camp security, they are also prepared to recognize and react to a wide variety of ordnance. If an item is identified while on patrol, the QRF provides security of the site until EOD assets can arrive on scene and dispose of the threat.

Since the QRF arrived at Camp Virginia in April, the platoon has identified more than 60 individual pieces of UXO during patrols. The QRF has been locating remnants of Operation Desert Storm, a conflict fought more than 20 years ago.

"Soldier safety is the most important aspect of our operation," said Staff Sgt. Andrews Kolakowski of Bethalto, a squad leader with the QRF platoon. "The platoon has been well trained and I'm confident in their ability to perform their assigned mission and react to potential threats such as these here in Kuwait."

Kuwait has long been known for its petroleum reserves. The combination of petroleum and territory disputes influenced the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and subsequent involvement of U.S. forces in 1990 to 1991. During that timeframe, a large variety of weapons were utilized by both sides in an attempt to gain control.

"The terrain in this area is very soft, and most of the ordnance we have found failed to detonate on impact," said Spc. Travis Grinter of O'Fallon.

The QRF has been finding rocket propelled grenades, mortar rounds, cluster sub munitions, and various anti-personnel and anti-tank munitions, which were all types used during Desert Storm.

"The high winds and sandstorms constantly change the lay of the land. As the sand turns over, some of the old ordnance is exposed," said Spc. Joseph Christy, of Cuba. "You have to be on your game and constantly aware of your surroundings."

The QRF will continue to do its mission and be vigilant while out on patrols.

"I am very proud of their accomplishments and development as a team," said Master Sgt. Jeffrey Roth of Bloomington, QRF platoon sergeant. "All but a few members of this platoon have volunteered for this mission and hail from other units within the state of Illinois, and I think that speaks volumes about the character of the Soldiers we have here."

 
Illinois National Guard Agribusiness Development Team Recognized for Afghanistan Deployment PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Illinois National Guard PAO   
Friday, 17 August 2012 13:42

Freedom Salute Planned Aug. 18 for Specialized Group Who Helped Improve Afghan Farming

SPRINGFIELD, IL (08/15/2012)(readMedia)-- Approximately 60 Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers will be recognized Aug. 18 by the National Guard Bureau Freedom Salute Campaign for their sacrifice and service in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The ceremony for 1st Team of the 14th Agribusiness Development Team (1-14th ADT) will be at 2 p.m.at the Hoogland Center for the Arts, 420 South Sixth Street in Springfield.

"With Illinois producing more than $9 billion in agricultural commodities each year, there are no people in the world that know the business of agricultural like our Illinois farmers," said Gov. Pat Quinn. "I'm proud that this group of Illinois farmers donned their military uniforms and put their civilian skills to use in our nation's defense. The knowledge they passed on to Afghans will help a fledgling democracy secure a viable and peaceful future for its citizens and will help cap the discord that leads to disillusionment and terrorism."

Mobilized in April 2011, the ADT deployed for one year to conduct agricultural support operations in Afghanistan that revitalized and established a strong, growing and sustainable agricultural industry. The team provided basic agricultural needs and services working alongside the Afghan government agriculture agencies. They also taught and trained Afghan Extension Agents and farmers.

"When the Illinois National Guard sends men and women to war, we are sending the most motivated and the best trained and best equipped troops in the world," said Maj. Gen. Dennis L. Celletti, the Acting Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard. "This was certainly true of the 1-14th Agribusiness Development Team, where both their military and civilian skills were put to the test."

The team improved irrigation to more than 4,100 hectares of farmland. They also developed a functional Agricultural Extension Agent Program and hosted 34 training events. The ADT modernized Afghan farming techniques.

The ADT conducted 240 convoys, facilitated 5,145 farmer training days, trained 2,960 famers through Agriculture Extension Agents and assisted with forestry projects resulting in more than 60,000 seedlings being planted.

The ADT received the Meritorious Unit Citation and Valorous Unit citation. Thirteen Soldiers received a Bronze Star Medal, one Soldier received a Purple Heart Medal, 45 Soldiers were recognized with Army Commendation Medals and 58 Soldiers qualified for the Combat Action Badge.

The Soldiers are from all parts of Illinois. Many of them were specifically chosen for the mission based on their education and civilian background in agriculture.

Agriculture in Afghanistan accounts for 31 percent of the Afghan Gross Domestic Product and employs 78 percent of the over 30 million people in the country. National Guard ADTs work to improve the function of Afghan governmental agencies that are needed to sustain a viable agriculture sector and to educate and train Afghan farmers in modern agricultural methods and techniques. The changes will improve the quality of life and provide economic stability in the region.

The Freedom Salute Campaign program is a small way to show these patriotic citizen-Soldiers, their families and employers how much their sacrifice is appreciated. On behalf of the National Guard Bureau, the Illinois Army National Guard will present each eligible Soldier with an encased American flag, as well as a sequentially-numbered commemorative coin, certificate of appreciation and lapel pin. Families will also receive items recognizing their support and sacrifice. The Freedom Salute Campaign is one of the largest Army National Guard recognition endeavors in history. It is designed to publicly acknowledge Army National Guard Soldiers and those who supported them while deployed.

News media attending the ceremony should arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the ceremony. Media attending the event are asked to contact the Public Affairs office at 217-761-3569 by 3 p.m. on Aug. 15. For more information call the Public Affairs Office at 217-761-3569.

 
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