Military & Veterans News
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.

Braley Statement on Vote to Address ISIL Threat PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Kirsten Hartman   
Monday, 22 September 2014 08:33

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today released the following statement after his vote in support of an amendment designed to address the ISIL threat:


"ISIL is a threat to our country that must be eliminated. Today’s vote is an important step toward accomplishing that goal while preventing the United States from involving itself in another extended ground war and nation-building effort.  I will closely follow our mission against these violent terrorists in the weeks and months ahead and do whatever I can to keep all Americans safe and secure.”


Illinois National Guard generals receive Gold Polish Army Medal PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Illinois National Guard PAO   
Friday, 19 September 2014 07:52

WASHINGTON, D.C. (09/12/2014)(readMedia)-- Senior Illinois National Guard leaders were awarded the Gold Polish Army Award and celebrated Polish Armed Forces Day at the Polish Embassy in Washington, D.C., Sept. 9.

Maj. Gen. Daniel Krumrei of Springfield, Illinois, the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard along with Maj. Gen. William Cobetto of Hillsboro, Illinois, the Illinois National Guard Assistant Adjutant General-Air, and retired Maj. Gen. Dennis Celletti of Springfield, Illinois, received the Gold Polish Army Award for their support of Polish-American military cooperation.

"I accept this award on behalf of the 13,000 Soldier and Airmen of the Illinois National Guard who have been cooperating with the Polish Armed Forces for over 21 years and who have deployed with the Polish Armed Forces on every rotation to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003," said Krumrei.

The Polish Army Medal was established in September 1999 to recognize service to the Polish Army by foreign civilians and military personnel. The medal is presented in three grades Gold, Silver and Bronze by the Polish Minister of National Defence.

This year the Illinois National Guard conducted more than 30 separate engagements with the Polish military, strengthening collective defenses. In June, Soldiers participated in a biological response exercise in Poland. In October, 75 Soldiers and Airmen will participate in an exercise in Poland known as Anaconda Saber. Also in October, C130s from the 182nd Airlift Wing will deploy to Poland where they will fly side by side with the Polish C130s in support of NATO operations in Poland.

Chicago based unit receives Army Award for Maintenance Excellence PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Staff Sgt. Michael Camacho, 108th Sustainment Brigade   
Friday, 19 September 2014 07:30

WASHINGTON, D.C.– (09/12/2014)(readMedia)-- The Illinois Army National Guard's 108th Special Troops Battalion based in Chicago received a national-level Army Award for Excellence in Maintenance (AAME) Sept. 10 during the 10th Annual United States Army Combined Logistics Excellence Award ceremony in Washington, D.C.

The 108th STB, which deployed to Kuwait in January under the 108th Sustainment Brigade in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, placed first in the large-unit category in the 2013 AAME competition. This is the second year since 2011 the unit has received the award.

"The AAME gives recognition and improves overall readiness," said Col. Drew Dukett of Roodhouse, Illinois, the 108th Sust. Bde. commander. "When you have a checklist of what needs to be done per the regulation you have to maintain a high level of readiness and maintenance."

This competition maintains the efforts and progress the 108th has already made in its stride toward efficiency, said Dukett.

"Especially in tough fiscal times, maintenance is vitally important. It preserves our ability to conduct military operations and saves the taxpayer the cost of having to replace Army equipment," said Dukett. "My Soldiers understand this and it has shown in their work. I'm proud of them and their dedication. The AAME award is a reflection of their efforts."

AAME evaluators from Fort Lee, Virgina, conducted onsite inspections in the final phase of the competition earlier this year. Evaluators visited the 108th STB's facilities in both North Riverside and the Northwest Armory near Humboldt Park.

The competition involves a thorough inspection in different areas of the unit including maintenance, supply, training and overall unit readiness. The AAME competition is divided into different phases spanning several months. The 108th STB won maintenance competitions at the state, regional and National Guard Bureau levels.

Competition categories are determined by the number of personnel assigned to a unit or command. Units with 300 or more personnel compete in the large category.

The 20-page nomination packet, required to enter the AAME competition, illustrated the unit's maintenance programs and Soldier readiness. The 108th STB is the first unit in the Illinois National Guard to win in the large category since the 232nd Combat Support Battalion out of Springfield in 2001.

The 108th SB as a whole is no stranger to logistical excellence awards. Units and Solders within the brigade have received awards and citations for excellence in supply, maintenance and combat support operations in recent years.

Capt. Alison Jacobs of Rochester, Illinois, the logistics officer with the 108th STB said the unit's success in the competition reflects the unit's overall dedication to mission readiness and support in Illinois and abroad.

"A major part of the AAME program revolves around units displaying that they are prepared for their mission for internal and external support," Jacobs said. "Being mission ready is especially critical for logistical support units."

Jacobs said it was the team effort that made the 108th STB successful in the AAME competition.

"Success doesn't come from the efforts of one person," said Jacobs. "It's a team dynamic, drawing support throughout the unit, from the leadership to Soldiers in the motor pool. It's not just about reaching the standard, but exceeding it and continuing to maintain that level."

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