Military & Veterans News
More Troops Deploying to Afghanistan PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Move America Forward   
Tuesday, 26 June 2012 12:40
Troopathon 2012 is almost here! We now have only 17 days left! We have a long way to go if we're going to send the largest-yet shipment of care packages to our troops! Join the cast of celebrities, musicians, journalists, and others who are coming together to support our troops and Troopathon 2012! Send care packages to our troops today!


Across several states this weekend, friends and family bade farewell to fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, husbands and wives deploying to Afghanistan to fight and protect our country from ruthless terrorists.

Over 800 Troops from the Alabama National Guard.

About 150 Troops from the Utah National Guard.

300 Troops deploying out of Ft. Benning, Georgia.

The 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team is training for deployment.

Over 3,000 Troops from Ft. Riley, KS now set to deploy.

2,950 Troops from the 101st Airborne are set to deploy out of Kentucky.

Army Col. Michael Getchell, commander of the 2nd Infantry Division’s 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, discusses the concerns of Afghan provincial leader role players during an exercise at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., June 11, 2012. The brigade is preparing to deploy to Afghanistan in the fall.

Troopathon is a month-long effort that culminates on July 12th, but we are taking donations for Troopathon RIGHT NOW!

Troopathon brings together conservative celebrities from all walks of life to concentrate on supporting our troops for one day, where we really try to hit it out of the park for our military servicemen and women.

Mark your calendars now, and be ready July 12th for an event that will amaze and energize you to support our troops more than ever! 

Braley Introduces Bill Making More Blinded Veterans Eligible for VA Adaptive Housing Grants PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Tuesday, 26 June 2012 12:02

Adaptive housing grant program makes it easier for disabled vets to live in their homes

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today announced the introduction of legislation he’s authored to help more blinded veterans qualify for a Veterans Administration grant program designed to help injured and disabled veterans live in their homes.  VA adaptive housing grants provide one-time funding for permanently disabled veterans to remodel their homes and make them more disability-accessible.

Currently, to qualify for VA adaptive housing grants, a blinded veteran must have visual acuity of 5/200 or worse (meaning that individual must be five feet away from an object to see it with the same acuity that an individual with normal vision can see at 200 feet).  Someone with 5/200 vision generally has an inability to distinguish whether they’re in a lit environment or an unlit environment.

Many veterans who have suffered the effects of impaired vision as a result of military service do not meet this very high standard, but still face a significant disability that affects their quality of life.

Furthermore, at 20/200, federal law has a less restrictive standard for blindness than the Veterans Administration.  In fact, the American Medical Association first adopted this standard for blindness in 1934, and the Social Security Administration adopted it in 1968.  And other programs in the Veterans Administration use the 20/200 standard already.

HR 5999, the Housing for Blinded Veterans Act, that Braley introduced will apply the American Medical Association and federal government’s 20/200 standard for blindness to the VA’s adaptive housing program.  This will expand eligibility for the program to more blind veterans and create a more uniform standard for blindness across federal agencies.

“This is the definition of a common sense change,” Braley said.  “It’s silly for the federal government to use one standard for blindness and the Veterans Administration to use another, tougher standard… and just for one program, too.  Applying the commonly recognized standard for blindness to the VA adaptive housing grant program  means more disabled veterans will qualify for help.  Plus, it just makes sense.”


Braley has been a staunch advocate for expanding veterans’ eligibility for and improving the VA’s adaptive housing grant program, which provides grants to permanently disabled veterans to make their homes more disability accessible.  Last year, Braley introduced the Andrew Connolly Veterans Housing Act, a bill that renews the adaptive housing grant program.  The bill was passed by the US House last spring and is still being considered by the Senate.

Full bill text of the Housing for Blinded Veterans Act can be downloaded at the following link:

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Operation Gratitude Sends 800,000th Care Package PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Operation Gratitude   
Monday, 25 June 2012 09:47
Van Nuys, CA -- The crowd was electric and in a celebratory mood on June 16 when more than 500 volunteers descended on the California National Guard Armory in Van Nuys to assemble the 800,000th Operation Gratitude Care Package. 

The Milestone package, which will be delivered to a service member currently deployed in harm's way, includes the keys to a custom built "American Chopper" donated by Torque Sports and Performance, Inc. and the SJO Foundation for Hope. 

"Our troops face separation from home and loved ones while they are deployed so Torque Sports and Performance wanted to do something special to let all our Military know we appreciate their sacrifice," said Scott James, President and CEO of Torque Sports and Performance. "We contacted our friends at Orange Country Choppers, a brand that is synonymous with American ingenuity and quality, and they agreed to build a custom chopper for us to give away for a special occasion."

The perfect special occasion turned out to be the shipment of Operation Gratitude's 800,000th care package. James and business partner Scott Templeton were present at the armory to make the announcement about the gift Chopper, which will be revealed and presented to the package recipient at the Armory in December of this year.

Reflecting on the magnitude of the occasion, Operation Gratitude founder, Carolyn Blashek, explained that the 800,000th care package symbolizes:
  • 6.4 Million pounds of donated product
  • $8 Million in shipping costs
  • 40 Million items
  • $80 Million worth of product shipped since the organization started in 2003.
Yet the real significance of all those numbers, Blashek said, is that they represent the enormous generosity of the American people, individually and through businesses.

"The reason we celebrate this package is first to recognize the more than two million  brave warriors who have deployed over the last 10 years," she said.  In addition, we acknowledge "the hundreds of incredibly generous Corporate Sponsors who ensure we can fill the packages and the thousands and thousands of supporters who donate funds, letters, scarves, Beanie Babies and all the other items that go into our packages."

Finally, Blashek noted that the tally also highlights the extraordinary dedication  of more than 14,000 local volunteers who have given tens of thousands of hours of their time to collect, receive, log in, sort, inspect, organize, prepare and assemble the donated product into these "Thank You" care packages. 

"No other organization in history has sent this many packages personally addressed to individual service members," she exclaimed.

According to James and Templeton, the Chopper, which will be built this summer, will have a Rolling Thunder frame, an S&S 100ci polished EPA engine, a custom Torque paint job and a primary cover with five authentic U.S. Military coins (representing the 5 Military branches) embedded on it. "The designs on the rear fender will pay tribute to the wonderful volunteers of Operation Gratitude and to the U.S. troops of the past, present and future," James said.

To commemorate the surprise Milestone day, each volunteer received a special "March to a Million" dogtag that reads: "I am a part of Operation Gratitude History." The limited-edition dog-tags will be available to all donors of at least $15 (the cost to assemble and ship one care package) from July 1 through October 31, 2012 and then again during special designated months in 2013.


About Operation Gratitude
Operation Gratitude annually sends 100,000+ care packages filled with snacks, entertainment items and personal letters of appreciation addressed to individually named U.S. Service Members deployed in harm's way, to their children left behind, to Military families and Veterans in financial distress due to unemployment, to Emergency First Responders and to Wounded Warriors recuperating in transition units. The organization's mission is to lift morale, bring a smile to a service member's face and express to our Armed Forces the appreciation and support of the American people. Each package contains donated product valued at ~$125 and costs the organization $15 to assemble and ship. For safety and security, assembling of packages occurs at the Army National Guard armory in Van Nuys, California. Since its inception in 2003, Operation Gratitude volunteers have shipped more than 800,000 packages to American Military members and their children.

Governor Quinn Attends USS Illinois Naming Ceremony PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Leslie Wertheimer   
Monday, 25 June 2012 09:26

Next-generation Navy vessel to be named after Illinois

CHICAGO ­– June 22, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today joined Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus at the anchor of USS Chicago on Navy Pier for the ship naming ceremony in honor of USS Illinois, one of the Navy’s newest vessels. The first modern Navy vessel to be named after the state, USS Illinois will join the fleet in 2015.

“Illinois has a long history of commitment and support for our nation’s Armed Forces,” Governor Quinn said. “On behalf of the people of Illinois, it is a privilege to once again have a vessel named after our great state.”

Part of the Navy’s new Virginia-class fleet, USS Illinois is a next-generation attack submarine designed for deep ocean warfare as well as shallow water operations. This multimission nuclear-powered submarine has unique features that enhance its warfighting capabilities such as excellent shallow water handling, high-resolution cameras instead of periscopes to improve visibility and the ability to support special operations forces. The many innovations incorporated into USS Illinois and the entire Virginia-class fleet’s design make them the most advanced submarines in the world.

"I chose to name this submarine in honor of the U.S. Navy's longstanding relationship with Illinois," Secretary Mabus said. "A special bond exists between a state and her namesake.  I am confident the people of the great state of Illinois will continue their strong support of our military through their relationship with the USS Illinois and all those who sail in her."

Illinois is home to the only Recruit Training Command in the country, Naval Station Great Lakes. Approximately 37,000 men and women complete the requirements to become Navy Sailors each year at Great Lakes.

One of Governor Quinn’s top priorities throughout his career in public service has been the well-being of Illinois servicemembers and their families. Governor Quinn championed legislation creating the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund as Lieutenant Governor, which provides monetary grants to families of Illinois National Guard members and Illinois residents serving in the U.S. Armed Forces Reserve. Governor Quinn also launched Illinois’ Welcome Home Heroes program, created to make homeownership more affordable for veterans, active military personnel, reservists and Illinois National Guard members.

To find out more about the programs and benefits Illinois offers veterans, current servicemembers and military families, please visit



First Lady Michelle Obama to Join Governor Quinn at Key Military Spouse Bill Signing **Tuesday, June 26, 2012** PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Leslie Wertheimer   
Monday, 25 June 2012 09:21

CHICAGO – As part of his strong commitment to Illinois service members and their families, Governor Pat Quinn will sign important legislation to support military spouses. Joining Governor Quinn for the signing will be First Lady Michelle Obama.

As governor of a state with three major military bases, Governor Quinn has made the well-being of Illinois’ veterans, service members and military families a top priority. He has created programs making home ownership affordable for military families, and worked to help service members find jobs and successfully transition back into civilian life

As Lt. Governor, Quinn also championed and implemented the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund (IMFRF), which provides military families with monetary grants to help cover the costs of necessities such as food, housing and medical care when a family member has left civilian employment for active duty. Several states have modeled their military family assistance programs after the IMFRF.

The First Lady has toured the country and heard from many military spouses and active duty service members about the difficulties they have encountered while trying to transfer their professional licenses and certifications from one state to another. Through her Joining Forces initiative, the First Lady has advocated for the 100,000 military spouses who serve in professions requiring state licenses or certifications and are facing financial burdens trying to transfer these credentials.

WHEN: 2:15 p.m.

**Media will be required to arrive ahead of start time. More specific information regarding media access will be advised in advance.

WHERE: Illinois National Guard Armory

1910 South Calumet Avenue

Chicago, 60616


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