Military & Veterans News
U.S.: Ban Landmine Use Everywhere, Korea Included PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Mica Bevington   
Tuesday, 23 September 2014 14:24

20th Anniversary of President Clinton’s call for their “eventual elimination”

Press Release - For Immediate Release

(Washington DC, September 23, 2014) Today’s announcement by the United States that it will not use antipersonnel landmines anywhere in the world except on the Korean Peninsula is a positive step, but the geographic exception must be overcome if the US is to ever join the Mine Ban Treaty, said the US Campaign to Ban Landmines.

The US policy announced September 23 commits the United States to not use antipersonnel landmines outside of the Korean Peninsula and commits it to destroy antipersonnel mine stockpiles “not required for the defense of the Republic of Korea.” This affirms the de facto US policy against any antipersonnel mine use that has existed since 1991. Yet these indiscriminate weapons pose a danger to civilians no matter where they are used and further use of antipersonnel mines on the Korean Peninsula cannot be justified under any circumstances.

During the 1997 negotiation of the Mine Ban Treaty, the US tried to get a geographic exception for Korea, but was strongly rebuffed by its closest military allies, which concluded that the humanitarian dangers of such mines outweighed any military utility and that permitting one geographic exception would encourage other nations to seek similar exemptions from the ban treaty.

Today’s policy announcement also committed the US to not assist, encourage, or induce other nations to use, stockpile, produce or transfer antipersonnel mines outside of Korea. The White House announcement notes that all NATO member states except the US are now party to the Mine Ban Treaty. A total of 162 nations are party to the treaty, which prohibits antipersonnel landmines, requires the destruction of stockpiled mines, and requires clearance of contaminated land and assistance to victims.

Today’s White House announcement was made on the eve of the 20-year anniversary of President Clinton’s 1994 speech to the United Nations General Assembly when he became the first world leader to call for the “eventual elimination” of antipersonnel landmines.

Previously, on June 27 at the Third Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty in Maputo, Mozambique, the US announced an immediate ban on the production and acquisition of antipersonnel mines, but did not address use of the weapons. In both policy announcements, the US has confirmed it is “diligently pursuing … solutions that would be compliant” with the Mine Ban Treaty and “that would ultimately allow us to accede” to it.

The US Campaign to Ban Landmines has repeatedly urged that the outcome of the policy review initiated in 2009 be a decision to join the Mine Ban Treaty as soon as possible, to immediately prohibit the use of antipersonnel mines, and to begin destruction of all stocks of antipersonnel mines. The US Campaign to Ban Landmines reiterated this call in a September 12 letter to President Obama.

According to US officials, the policy announced today does not represent the final outcome of the landmine policy review initiated by the Obama administration in 2009, but is an interim announcement. The US Department of Defense is currently conducting a detailed study into alternatives to self-destructing antipersonnel mines and the impact of no further use of the weapon on the Korean Peninsula.

The US has a stockpile of about 3 million antipersonnel mines.

The United States Campaign to Ban Landmines is a coalition of more than 400 non-governmental organizations. It is the US affiliate of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, co-laureate with former ICBL Coordinator Jody Williams of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.

According to the White House announcement, the new policy will “bring U.S. practice in closer alignment with a global humanitarian movement that has had a demonstrated positive impact in reducing civilian casualties” from antipersonnel landmines.


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Governor Quinn Breaks Ground on First Veterans Home in Chicago PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Dave Blanchette   
Monday, 22 September 2014 15:05

New Facility Will Care for 200 of the Nation’s Heroes

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today broke ground on the $70.5 million Illinois Veterans Home at Chicago. The 200-bed facility will be the fifth veterans’ home in the state and the first in Chicago. Today’s action is part of Governor Quinn’s longstanding commitment to honor and support the men and women who have served our nation.

“All of us on the homefront have a duty to take care of those who have borne the battle,” Governor Quinn said. “More than half of Illinois’ veterans live in the Chicago area, and this new facility will greatly benefit these heroes and their families. Our new veterans’ home in Chicago will provide care and support for 200 of our nation’s heroes and create hundreds of jobs for hardworking Illinois residents.”

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has approved federal reimbursement for up to 65 percent of the eligible construction costs on the project. This means as much as $45.8 million of the construction cost could be covered by the federal government.

The five-story home will feature single occupancy rooms with private bathrooms and common areas for dining and meeting with visitors. The facility will be built to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver standards, a testament to its energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly design. The construction project will be managed by the Illinois Capital Development Board.

Construction will begin by early October on 7.8 acres of land at the southwest corner of Forest Preserve Drive and Oak Park Avenue. The location was selected because of its proximity to the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital and its accessibility to public transportation. Units will provide special long-term care for veterans with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Construction is scheduled for completion in mid 2016.

“The start of construction on the Illinois Veterans Home at Chicago is a great step forward,” Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) Acting Director Rodrigo Garcia said. “Thanks to Governor Quinn’s leadership and commitment to serving those who have served, Chicago-area veterans will have a chance to access the great quality of care and the caring, patriotic environment we offer at our four existing Homes.”

“There is no more important building being constructed in the state of Illinois than this one,” Capital Development Board Executive Director Jim Underwood said. “We are honored to oversee the construction of this home that will care for heroes who answered the call to serve.”

The Illinois Veterans Home at Chicago will be operated by IDVA, which also supervises veterans’ homes in Anna, LaSalle, Manteno and Quincy. IDVA also operates the Prince Home, a 15-bed permanent supportive housing facility for homeless and disabled veterans at Manteno. When completed and after recognition of the Illinois Veterans Home at Chicago, the Department will be able to receive USDVA per diem payments that will provide over one quarter of the annual operating budget of the home.


Loebsack Welcomes Quad Cities Honor Flight to Washington PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Joe Hand   
Monday, 22 September 2014 14:06

Veterans from WWII and Korean Wars view monuments built in their honor

Washington, D.C. – September 18, 2014 – Congressman Dave Loebsack today welcomed the Quad Cities Honor Flight to the National World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington. Loebsack presented the members of the Honor Flight with copies of the Congressional Record statement he submitted in recognition of their service, as well as a booklet entitled “Our American Government.” The Quad Cities Honor Flight brings World War II and Korean War veterans o Washington to visit our nation’s capital and Memorials built in their honor.

“I look forward to welcoming each Honor Flight to our nation’s capital so they can see the memorials that were built in their honor. Being able to welcome these veterans today was especially meaningful,” said Loebsack. “We cannot thank these veterans enough for their service to our nation. I was honored to present them with a copy of the statement I made for the official Congressional Record to recognize their service.”

The Honor Flights are all fully paid for, and the veterans are typically accompanied by volunteers who donate their time to ensure that the veterans have a safe trip. This group included 90 veterans. The Quad Cities Honor Flight left from the Quad Cities Airport this morning and will return tonight.

Loebsack is an avid supporter of our veterans. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, he has worked to improve care and benefits for our servicemembers and veterans, including expanding Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits for the National Guard; expanding access to mental health care; helping our veterans find civilian jobs; and opening new Community Based Outpatient Clinics to improve access to VA services for Iowa veterans. He also co-introduced bipartisan legislation to eliminate the waiting period for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits for servicemembers wounded in combat.

Can You Fill 16,000 Packages? PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Carolyn Blashek   
Monday, 22 September 2014 12:14
Here's How YOU Can Help

On Monday morning of this week, I received this picture and note from one of our troops overseas:

"I greatly appreciate this package, because it comes from the hearts of many amazing people out there. Thank you so much!"

As world events have put the U.S. Military on high alert, so too has Operation Gratitude been impacted by the growing threats worldwide.  Here is an update on requests to send Operation Gratitude Care Packages to our Troops overseas and to our New Recruits and Veterans here at home.

On August 23rd, our volunteers in Southern California assembled 7,062 packages that were immediately shipped to troops deployed in harm’s way.  Then on September 3rd, we received an urgent request to send an additional 2,200 packages as soon as possible.  Our volunteers reacted within 48 hours and made packages for each and every hero.

This Saturday, September 20th, we have requests to send an additional 7,000 packages overseas.  Hundreds of local supporters have registered to volunteer to make sure that we fulfill every request.

This means that in a span of just 30 days, our volunteers will have assembled and shipped more than 16,000 Care Packages!  

Your generosity and support have helped us fulfill every care package request ever made since Operation Gratitude started in 2003: More than 1.1 Million Care Packages sent!  

Even if you are not available to volunteer at the National Guard Armory this Saturday, here are several very important ways that you can participate from anywhere in the country to ensure that we can send tens of thousands of additional packages by year-end.  

You can:

However you choose to serve, I am forever appreciative of your kindness.  Thank you for believing in our cause and for continuing to support our troops!


Carolyn Blashek, Founder

Illinois National Guard Soldiers place in marksmanship competition PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Illinois National Guard PAO   
Monday, 22 September 2014 08:34

SPRINGFIELD, IL (09/17/2014)(readMedia)-- FORT BENNING, Ga. – Illinois National Guard Soldiers placed in the All Army Long Range Championship at Fort Benning, Georgia, September 8-11.

Sgt. 1st Class Tracy Mix of Marseilles, Illinois, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade in Chicago, and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brandon Gibbs of Pleasant Plains, Illinois, with Company B, 634th Brigade Support Battalion, took first and second overall in the service rifle category.

The competition is an advanced combat live-fire training event open to Active Army, National Guard and Army Reserve.

This year, seven National Guard Soldiers competed out of 32 competitors. The Soldiers made up three two-man teams and had one individual competitor.

The two categories for this competition are service rifle (U.S. rifle, 7.62mm, M21 or M24) and bolt (U.S. rifle, caliber .300 Winchester Magnum M2010 or M-24). In all five matches, the competitors had 15 shots for record at each distance of 800, 900 and 1,000 yards.

"It's fun," said Maj. David Stapp, sustainment commander at the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center in Camp Robinson, Arkansas.

Even though many competitors enjoy competing, they must spend a lot of time with their weapon to be successful.

"I have to know the data and wind charts to prepare," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Ryan Landon of Creal Springs, Illinois, with the 3637th Support Maintenance Company in Springfield, Illinois.

The Soldiers have to know the data for their weapon and learn how wind affects distance and direction of their shot, which requires the Soldiers to practice in their personal time.

"I go to civilian ranges to practice on my own and start going over my wind charts and data in advance to mentally prepare," said Mix.

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