Military & Veterans News
Illinois National Guard Soldiers begin intense training in Minnesota PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Maj. Nathan A. Westby, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team   
Monday, 09 July 2012 13:52

CAMP RIPLEY, MINN. (07/09/2012)(readMedia)-- Soldiers with the Illinois National Guard began arriving at Camp Ripley, Minn., July 6 to support and train the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) through the Army National Guard's premier training program for brigade combat teams.

Units from all major commands in the Illinois National Guard are involved in the training event that includes the 33rd IBCT in Urbana, the 108th Sustainment Brigade in Chicago, the 65th Troop Command Brigade in Springfield, the 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade in Chicago, and the Joint Forces Headquarters in Springfield. At the peak of operations there will be more than 3,200 Soldiers from Illinois at Camp Ripley.

Brig. Gen. Johnny Miller, Assistant Adjutant General for the Illinois Army National Guard, and the Task Force Illini commander for the exercise, said this is an opportunity to highlight the quality of the Illinois Army National Guard and its Soldiers.

"This exercise will demonstrate the high caliber of our organization to key decision makers at the national level and the community leaders where our armories are located," said Miller.

The 33rd IBCT is the primary training audience during the 21-day exercise, which will certify the brigade's companies and platoons on the ability to perform mission specific tasks. Completing the three-week training exercise ensures the 33rd IBCT will be ready for potential future deployments in 2014 when the brigade will be in the available force pool.

Col. Paul C. Hastings, the 33rd IBCT commander said the exercise will be intense and challenging for all units in the 33rd IBCT.

"Over the next three weeks we will train to be the most lethal and survivable IBCT in the National Guard. Our execution of this exercise will be the most aggressive and complicated ever contemplated by an IBCT in this program," said Hastings.

The 33rd IBCT last completed the same Army National Guard program in 2008 before the unit deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The Army National Guard program, the eXportable Combat Training Capability (XCTC), was created in 2005 to reduce training overhead for National Guard brigades without sacrificing quality, standards, or outcomes. It is designed to build upon fundamental doctrine while integrating tough, realistic training. The XCTC program provides a cost-effective and readily available alternative to the Army's Combat Training Centers.

Governor Quinn Celebrates Independence Day by Enacting Laws for Veterans PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Nafia Khan   
Thursday, 05 July 2012 07:01

New Laws Will Help Illinois Veterans Better Access, Jobs, Healthcare

DES PLAINES – July 4, 2012. Governor Quinn today celebrated our nation’s 236th birthday and the more than 800,000 Illinois Veterans by signing new laws to improve the quality of life for Veterans. Building on his longstanding commitment to Veterans and military families, Governor Pat Quinn signed three new laws that will improve access to jobs, benefits and state programs for servicemembers.

"Today on the Fourth of July, we honor our founding fathers by improving the lives of the men and women who serve this nation," Governor Quinn said. "Supporting our Veterans, who sacrifice to ensure the freedoms we enjoy, is one of my top priorities. These new laws will make sure our heroes receive the services they need here at home."

In order to further improve Veterans’ access to state services, Governor Quinn signed Senate Bill 2837, sponsored by Sen. Pamela Althoff (R-Crystal Lake) and Rep. Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago). Under the new law, Veterans will receive a unique distinction on their driver’s licenses and identification cards. This will enable the IDVA and other state agencies to more efficiently identify Veterans for services and benefits, such as healthcare, education assistance, and job placement. The Secretary of State will implement the change by Jan. 1, 2015.

“It is more important than ever to care for our Veterans and to make it easier for them to access benefits and programs, said Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) Director Erica Borggren. “These laws do just that, while also helping us chip away at the Veteran unemployment problem.”

As part of Governor Quinn’s ongoing efforts to make sure Veterans do not have to fight for jobs at home, he signed House Bill 4586, sponsored by Rep. Will Davis (D-Chicago) and Sen. William Haine (D-Alton). Under the new law, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources will partner with the IDVA, the Illinois Departments of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), and Employment Security (IDES), as well as the Illinois State Job Coordinating Council to add the Illinois Veteran Conservation Corps and Illinois Veteran Recreation Corps to the Illinois Conservation Corps. Under the new law, unemployed Illinois Veterans and members of the Illinois National Guard between the ages of 15 and 25 are eligible for year-round conservation and environmental employment in the corps. The new law goes into effect immediately.

Governor Quinn also signed Senate Bill 3689, sponsored by Sen. John Sullivan (D-Rushville) and Rep. Carol Sente (D-Vernon Hills) to help address unemployment among Veterans. The new law makes employment and job training organizations eligible to receive grants through the Veterans Assistance Fund. More than $10 million from the fund, made up of proceeds from the Veterans Cash lottery ticket program, has been awarded to nonprofit organizations across the state. Recipients provide health care and post-traumatic stress disorder treatment, housing assistance, disability benefits and other services to Illinois Veterans. The law goes into effect immediately.

For more information about programs and benefits for our Veterans, visit Veterans.Illinois.Gov or call the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs at 217-782-6641 or 312-814-2460.



Veteran, Military Employment Fair Set for Peoria Civic Center July 12 PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by National Guard Lt. Col. Tim Franklin   
Tuesday, 03 July 2012 12:23

Approximately 60 Central Illinois Employers on Hand Looking for Talented, Qualified Job Candidates

PEORIA , IL (07/03/2012)(readMedia)-- Approximately 60 central Illinois employers will be on hand at the Peoria Civic Center, 201 S.W. Jefferson Ave., July 12 for an employment fair aimed at veterans and military service members looking for a job. The Illinois Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Committee, in conjunction with Hero2Hired, Illinois Department of Employment Security, U.S. Chamber of Commerce/ Hiring Our Heroes, and other sponsors and organizations have combined their efforts to bring employers with open positions together with veterans, National Guard, Reserve and spouses in Peoria and surrounding areas.

"We are very happy to be able to work with organizations and programs like Hero2Hired, Hiring Our Heroes, and IDES to offer this unique and much-needed employment fair opportunity to our veterans and service members here in central Illinois," said Dr. Michael Ayers, Ph.D., State Committee Chair for Illinois ESGR. "We recognize that unemployment among this important segment of our population is a growing concern not just here in Illinois but across the country."

The free Peoria employment fair will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Veteran and military job seekers should go to the Hiring Our Heroes Web site at by July 5 to sign up online. For more information or registration questions, contact Hiring Our Heroes at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

"The unemployment rate among our veterans, Guardsmen and Reservists is a concern," said Lt. Col. Tim Franklin, Illinois ESGR Program Director. "According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall unemployment rate in 2011 for veterans who served on active duty in since September 2001 was 12.1 percent. For those who were current or past members of the Reserve or National Guard the rate was 9.1 percent. We have a responsibility help these men and women who raise their hand and volunteer to put on the uniform to do our nation's bidding here at home and around the world."

The Peoria employment fair offers veterans, Guard and Reserve members and their spouses an opportunity to connect with central Illinois Employers with positions available. In addition to employers, veteran service organizations and providers will be at the fair. Walk-in veterans and spouses can attend the day of the event with proper identification, but pre-registration is encouraged through Hiring Our Heroes.

Braley to Visit Iowa Veterans Home to Discuss Iwo Jima Visit PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Tuesday, 03 July 2012 09:35

Washington, DC – Today, on the eve of Independence Day, Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) will visit the Iowa Veterans’ Home in Marshalltown to make a presentation about his trip to Iwo Jima earlier this year.  Braley traveled to Iwo Jima in March 2012 with David Greene, a World War II veteran from Waterloo.  For more information on the trip, visit:

TODAY, Tuesday July 3rd, 2012

10:30am:  Presentation on Trip to Iwo Jima with IVH Veterans

Iowa Veterans’ Home

1301 Summit St.

Marshalltown, Iowa


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Complexity, realism and technology enhances C-IED training (Rock Island, IL) PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Carlos Cruz   
Monday, 02 July 2012 12:47

Army Sgt. John McSorley, counter IED trainer mentor with 1st Battalion, 307th Infantry Regiment prepares a simulated pressure plate IED for use on the Dismounted IED Visual Indicator Lane.

By Ian Lumley, Matthew Brady and William Fisher
174th Infantry Brigade Counter-Improvised Explosive Device Integration Cell

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- A major part of training service members for combat revolves around countering the insurgent’s use of improvised explosive devices. IEDs remain the weapon of choice for terrorists, insurgents and criminal networks worldwide.

Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., serves as a mobilization training center for First Army Division East with the mission of preparing joint forces for military operations in Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and other active conflict areas around the world. A great deal of time and effort is devoted to training service members how to operate effectively in an IED environment.

“Before they go to an active area of operations, they need to know what to look for,” said Army Sgt. John McSorley, 174th Infantry Brigade Counter-IED trainer mentor. “The DIVIL is a great way to expose troops to multiple scenarios and increase IED awareness overall.”

The latest joint base training enabler, the DIVIL, or Dismounted IED Visual Indicator Lane, encompasses 15 independent IED training stations. Each station provides information concerning a specific type of IED and provides multiple examples of the IED as it may appear in an active IED environment. The intent is to expose service members to as many devices as possible to increase potential survivability, according to McSorley.

He went on to explained that training lanes have progressed from being a simple walk in the woods where an opposing force sets off training devices and simulates gunfire. During the last 10 years training enablers have increased in complexity and changed how service members train for deployment. Training enhancements such as the Virtual Battle Space Simulator is an example of how training has evolved to assist service members preparing for missions in an IED environment. The increased realism and reduced cost from less wear and tear on traditional field equipment has proved an effective enhancement at the joint base.

“Building the lane is an ongoing project,” said McSorley. “Our goal is to continuously update the exhibits and tailor the site towards multiple areas of operations and keep current with the latest tactics being used by the enemy.”

The DIVIL is a joint project between the 174th and installation entities. Soldiers assigned to the 174th used their skills and experience to build realistic representations of IEDs and 174th maintains project oversight. The Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security provided and maintains the terrain, while the Training Management Division assists with work orders.
In keeping with the Army Training Model 2015, which stresses the importance of hands on training, instructors take students out of the classroom and onto automated with fully-operational simulated IEDs active lanes. Students encounter hidden IEDs along the lane, which reinforces the training they receive.

Instead of a blast, the IEDs are connected to a siren or horn to simulate a blast.

“The DIVIL affords us a more productive learning environment, and constant lane improvements will keep training relevant,” said McSorley. “We are working on putting together a marine-time station to demonstrate threats Coast Guard and Navy personnel may encounter.”

The 174th IN Bde., trains service members from all branches of the military in preparation for deployments around the world. This newly redesigned lane allows them to train any unit for any area of conflict.

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