Military & Veterans News
Three Illinois Guard Special Forces Soldiers Recognized at Wrigley Field PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by National Guard PAO Illinois   
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 07:46
CHICAGO, IL (05/21/2012)(readMedia)-- Three Illinois National Guard Soldiers with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne) in Chicago were recognized on the field during Armed Forces Day at Wrigley Field, May 19. Staff Sgt. Ryan Meister of Urbana, Staff Sgt. Scott Blindt and Staff Sgt. Dan Schwarz were recognized along with five other servicemembers before the game. Gen. John R. Allen, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan threw out the first pitch.

Governor Quinn Honors Illinois Silver Star Recipients on Armed Services Day PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Leslie Wertheimer   
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 07:28

Silver Star medal.png

Ceremony Highlights Heroism and Bravery of Illinois Servicemembers

CHICAGO – May 19, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today joined Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Illinois National Guard Maj. General William Enyart to honor Illinois National Guardsmen Sgt. First Class Ryan Ahern of Glen Ellyn and Capt. Tom Bozzay of Wheaton with Silver Stars for valor. Gen. Dempsey presented the awards to Ahern and Bozzay for their heroic actions in Afghanistan in December 2009 while protecting a French military unit. 

“As we honor our military heroes on Armed Services Day, we must never forget their sacrifices,” Governor Quinn said. “Sgt. First Class Ahern and Capt. Bozzay are genuine heroes and a shining example of Illinois' best.”

Ahern and Bozzay are both assigned to Company A, 2nd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group in Chicago. While deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 and while under attack from a large enemy force, Bozzay moved under fire to provide medical care to five unit members who were seriously injured. With complete disregard for his own personal safety, Bozzay repeatedly used his body to shield wounded comrades from incoming fire.

Ahern was unconscious when the unit received fire, which wounded him and four others. After regaining consciousness from the blast, Ahern identified and fired at the enemy long enough to allow other members of the unit to reinforce their positions.

“The actions of Capt. Bozzay and Sgt. 1st Class Ahern prove they are not only heroes, but they are true protectors of this country,” said Enyart. “They were selfless and fearless without hesitating to simply do their job. They are an inspiration to me and our fellow Illinois National Guardsmen.”

The Silver Star is the third-highest military decoration that can be awarded to any branch of the United States Military. Today’s ceremony on United States Armed Services Day at the Pritzker Military Library comes as the Illinois National Guard is playing a key role in this weekend’s historic NATO summit in Chicago. On Sunday, Governor Quinn will join Polish President Bronisław Komorowski for a ceremony honoring continued military cooperation between Poland and the Illinois National Guard.

As Memorial Day approaches, Governor Quinn is encouraging Illinois residents to honor the servicemen and servicewomen who have lost their lives fighting for democracy by supporting programs that benefit Gold Star Families, including the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund, Operation Hero Miles, and Operation Support Our Troops. For more information about programs for our Veterans, visit or call the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs at 217-782-6641 or 312-814-2460.



Key Braley-Authored Provisions Included in House-Passed Defense Bill PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Friday, 18 May 2012 15:01

Legislation incorporates several Braley proposals to strengthen sexual assault protections, protect vets from home foreclosure; bill stops changes at Des Moines Air Guard facility

Washington, D.C. – The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that passed the US House of Representatives today included provisions authored by Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) to reduce sexual assault and domestic violence in the military and provide additional protections for veterans against foreclosure.  The legislation would also block a proposed Air Force recommendation to eliminate over 700 jobs at the Des Moines-based 132nd Iowa Air National Guard Fighter Wing.

“These provisions make important changes that would reduce the incidence of sexual assault in the military, protect more veterans and their families from home foreclosure, and protect the Des Moines Air National Guard Fighter Wing from cuts,” Braley said.  “This is important to many Iowans in uniform and to many veterans, and I’m encouraged that they moved a step closer to implementation today.  We’ve worked hard to get this done for our men and women in uniform and those who have served, and we’ll keep working until the job’s done.”


In April 2011, Braley introduced the Holley Lynn James Act, a bill that would force the Department of Defense to make changes to reduce the incidence of sexual assault and domestic violence in the military.  Several of the bill’s provisions were included in a Defense bill that passed the House in December; this April, the Pentagon announced it was implementing several provisions from the Holley Lynn James Act.  Today’s bill includes a provision from the Holley Lynn James Act that ensures senior officers -- higher up the chain of command -- review any accusation of sexual assault.

Also included in the Defense bill passed today was an amendment introduced by Braley to expand veterans’ mortgage foreclosure protections to spouses of veterans who were killed in action, and disabled veterans.  In October, the House passed Braley’s Protecting Veterans Homes Act to expand foreclosure protections for returning veterans.

Finally, the Defense bill also included language that would block the US Air Force from following through on their threat to eliminate over 700 jobs at the 132nd Iowa National Guard Fighter wing based at the Des Moines airport.  For months, Braley has pressed Congressional leaders and the Pentagon to abandon their plans to downsize the fighter wing.

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House Approves FY2013 Defense Bill PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Andie Pivarunas   
Friday, 18 May 2012 14:56

Legislation to support our troops clears the House of Representatives with bipartisan support

Washington, DC – Congressman Bobby Schilling (IL-17) released the following statement after the House of Representatives approved H.R. 4310, its version of the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA):

“Ensuring our organic industrial base and our men and women in combat are prepared for whatever threats tomorrow may bring is of the utmost importance to me,” Schilling said. “It’s an honor to represent the interests of warfighters, veterans, the Rock Island Arsenal, and our region’s manufacturing capabilities on the House Armed Services Committee, and I’m pleased so many colleagues on both sides of the aisle supported today’s defense bill.  I will work to ensure that the bill approved by the Senate and sent to the President meets the high standards those in our defense and intelligence communities deserve.”   

The NDAA is annual comprehensive legislation that specifies the budget authority of the United States Department of Defense (DOD) and additional national security programs under the Department of Energy (DOE).  The Act supports common defense and provides for the needs of our troops, ensuring that they have access to the best possible tools, equipment, and training necessary to complete their mission.  The FY2013 NDAA authorizes $544 billion for national defense and $88.5 billion for Overseas Contingencies Operations.  This is nearly $4 billion more than the President’s budget request, but less than last year’s request.  It is, however, consistent with the budget resolution the House passed last month.  The Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled to begin considering its version of the defense authorization on May 22.  

Schilling worked with several of his colleagues to ensure a number of bipartisan provisions were included in this year’s NDAA, the 51st annual defense authorization bill.  Schilling’s provisions include:

  • Language authored with Congressman Dave Loebsack (IA-02), also a member of HASC, to ensure DOD recognizes the critical manufacturing work done at facilities like the RIA in our overarching national security strategy, and reviews how to maintain those skills and therefore the people who do the work.  Schilling and Loebsack are building on their historic, bipartisan work to strengthen the arsenal in last year’s NDAA.
  • Language authored with Congressman Steve Stivers (OH-15) to better shape the policies and practices of TRICARE to efficiently and effectively account for the specific health care needs of children.  TRICARE is the military health care system covering 9.6 million, including military retirees, the children and families of active duty soldiers, and National Guard and Reservists.  As the program’s reimbursement structure is based on Medicare, TRICARE often adopts policies and practices from Medicare that do not account for pediatric health care delivery and settings.  This Schilling and Stivers language will convene a working group to review and make recommendations for improving TRICARE policies and practices to account for children’s needs, and work jointly with specialty providers of children’s health care.
  • Language authored with Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-03) to encourage cooperation between the DOD and universities to uncover the remains of American troops who died in action overseas. This bipartisan provision will help provide closure for families with lost loved ones, and will honor those who gave so much for our country.  Universities such as the University of Illinois are already working to reduce the backlog of cases that have been reported but not investigated or for which remains have been located but not recovered, but there is bureaucratic red tape that complicates coordinating efforts with the DOD.  This provision will help DOD be more cost effective and increase the speed at which we can bring our warfighters home from more friendly countries, allowing the DOD to focus on its recovery efforts in more dangerous areas of the world.
  • Language authored with Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-32), who serves with Schilling on the Small Business Committee, to reform small business contracting and make it easier for small contractors wishing to do business with the federal government.  Small businesses have proven that they can perform a service or produce goods for the government at a lower cost and often at a faster pace than their larger counterparts, but many challenges remain for businesspeople seeking to break through the bureaucracy.  This bipartisan provision allows the Small Business Administration to oversee civilian mentor-protégé programs (programs intended to partner small businesses with established mentors  to improve the small business’ ability to win contracts and subcontracts), facilitating inter-agency agreements, guaranteeing that programs benefit small businesses, and encouraging equal treatment among all small businesses, including those owned by women and minorities.

The legislation includes a number of broader provisions as well, including:

  • Provisions providing for the warfighter and military families: The NDAA seeks to provide our warfighters and their families with the care and support they need, deserve, and have earned.  It ensures that our military is robust, flexible, and capable.  The NDAA rejects Administration proposals to increase some TRICARE fees and establish new TRICARE fees; authorizes a 1.7 percent pay increase; and extends bonuses and special pay for our servicemen and women.  It also reflects a bipartisan effort actively supported by Schilling to provide new regulations and procedures to combat and prosecute sexual assault within the military.
  • Provisions to maintain and rebuild our military:  The NDAA does not authorize additional rounds of Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) in either FY2013 or FY2015, as had been called for by the Department of Defense.  Schilling strongly opposed efforts to authorize a BRAC.  The bill includes and restores vital systems, platforms, and authorities to maintain America’s combat power after a decade of war.
  • Provisions pertaining to detainees:  The FY2012 NDAA reaffirmed U.S. authority to pursue terrorists who are part of or substantially support al Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces.  The FY2013 NDAA, though the incorporation of the Right to Habeas Corpus Act, makes clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that every American will have his day in court.  It also prohibits the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States.

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Loebsack Amendment to Save 132nd Fighter Wing Passes House PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Joe Hand   
Friday, 18 May 2012 14:55
egislation also includes initiative to boost to Rock Island Arsenal; Housing fix for the Guard; Pay raise for Troops


Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack today applauded House passage of critical provisions in the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  Included in the legislation was an amendment authored by Loebsack that would prevent personnel and aircraft from the 132nd Fighter Wing based in Des Moines from being retired or cut. As the only Member of Congress from Iowa on the House Armed Services Committee, Loebsack also included a provision that directs the Department of Defense to identify the critical manufacturing capabilities provided by arsenals, including Rock Island Arsenal, and determine the amount of work that is required to maintain them in peacetime.


“The men and women who serve our nation deserve the best support, resources and care available.  While I do not support every provision in this bill, I am proud to have addressed many Iowa priorities in this bill and to have addressed critical national security challenges.  I am pleased the House voted in a bipartisan fashion to save the 132nd fighter wing, provide a boost for the Rock Island Arsenal and provide a deserved pay increase for the troops.  The quality of work being performed, especially by the Iowa Air Guard and the highly-skilled men and women at the Arsenal, is vital to our national security and second to none.”


Below are additional details about Loebsack initiatives included in the legislation.


Amendment to save the 132nd Fighter Wing

  • The bill includes language authored by Loebsack to prevent personnel cuts and retirements or transfer of Air National Guard aircraft, including the 132nd Fighter Wing in Des Moines.  The bipartisan amendment was offered in Committee and was cosponsored by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA).


Boost for Rock Island Arsenal; Stops BRAC rounds

  • · Congressmen Loebsack and Bobby Schilling (IL-17) worked together to include language that directs the DOD to identify the critical manufacturing capabilities provided by arsenals and determine the amount of work that is required to maintain them in peacetime.  The two also joined in fighting to ensure no there will be no BRAC rounds in either FY 2013 or FY 2015.


Housing Benefits Fix for National Guard

  • Also included in the NDAA, was Loebsack’s legislation that prohibits reductions in the rate of Basic Allowance for Housing for members of the National Guard who transition from full time National Guard duty to active duty or from active duty to full time National Guard duty. Under current policy, some National Guardsmen who make this transition see their benefits reduced at a time when they and their families can least afford it because of a policy that changes how their benefits are calculated.


National Guard Counterdrug Schools

  • The legislation reauthorizes the National Guard Counterdrug Schools like the Iowa Guard runs at Camp Dodge (the Midwest Counterdrug Training Center). The Center provides critical training to local law enforcement from across Iowa and the country to help keep drugs off of our streets.


Pay Raise for troops

  • As a member of the Military Personnel Subcommittee, Loebsack worked to provide a 1.7 percent pay increase in pay for our troops.



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