Military & Veterans News
Lt. Governor Simon announces comprehensive military study PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Ted Nelson   
Monday, 24 March 2014 07:23

Northern Illinois University Center for Governmental Studies chosen to conduct economic impact analysis 

CHICAGO - March 21, 2014. Working in partnership with the Illinois Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon today announced that the Northern Illinois University’s Center for Governmental Studies (CGS) will conduct a comprehensive economic impact analysis of active military bases in Illinois.

“This study will provide the information we need to retain our military bases, promote our great facilities and encourage Illinois job growth,” said Simon, chair of the Interagency Military Base Support and Economic Development Committee. “I am pleased to partner with the Illinois Chamber of Commerce Foundation to protect our military assets and grow our defense industry.”

NIU researchers will calculate the economic impact of the state’s military installations and provide the data needed for Congressional, state and business leaders to protect Illinois’ military economy at a time of federal defense spending cuts, forced reallocations and base realignment or closure. The final report is due in October.

“We’re excited to take the next step in this process. CGS has a diverse portfolio of economic research that we know will help us understand the economic impact of our defense installations and defense industry on our economy,” said Benjamin Brockschmidt, director of federal affairs with the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.

Founded in 1969, CGS is a public policy unit at Northern Illinois University that assembles interdisciplinary teams from its own professional staff and across the university to work with government at all levels, non-profit organizations, school districts, community colleges, park districts, library districts, land conservation districts, land developers, health care agencies, and utilities.

As chair of the IMBSEDC, Simon helps coordinate the state’s activities and communications relating to current and former military bases in Illinois. Simon is committed to protecting the state’s military operations, installations, and the families of those who selflessly serve our state and country. More information on the RFP can be found here.


Iowa Designated All-Vet State by U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Office of the Governor of the State of Iowa   
Friday, 21 March 2014 12:33

(DES MOINES) – Today, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad proudly announced Iowa is among three states to be designated an All-Vet State by Hiring Our Heroes, a program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

“We are honored to be named an All-Vet State and to be in such good company,” said Governor Branstad.  “This designation is a true testament to our unwavering support of veterans and their families.  We are dedicated to making Iowa a home for the nation’s returning heroes.”

The All-Vet States initiative was created to highlight the incredible opportunities, services, and support being offered by states to attract and hire transitioning service members and military spouses.  By showcasing the benefits and opportunities important to veterans and their families, a state can help influence a transitioning service member’s decision-making process in bringing their skill sets and revenue to that state.

Michigan and Tennessee also received the All-Vet State designation.

“Iowa has worked aggressively to be a top destination for our nation’s veterans and military spouses,” said Eric Eversole, executive director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program. “We are thrilled to work together through our All-Vet States initiative to help Iowa highlight the many economic and educational opportunities for the men and women who have served our country.”

This designation comes on the heels of Governor Branstad’s announcement of the creation of the Home Base Iowa program.  Home Base Iowa was founded to serve as a comprehensive source for job services and information about Iowa for veterans.  On March 13, Greene County was designated the state’s first Home Base Iowa Community.  To date, Iowa businesses have set a goal of filling 2,900 jobs in Iowa with veterans through the Home Base Iowa initiative.

“Many thanks to the individuals guiding the Hiring Our Heroes program and their hard work in assisting veterans and their families,” said Iowa Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds.  “We are so proud to be designated an All-Vet State and will continue to serve our nation’s brave servicemen and women to the fullest extent.”

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Illinois National Guard contractors to mobilize for Afghanistan PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Illinois National Guard PAO   
Monday, 17 March 2014 10:04

Four Soldiers mobilize March 19 as part of an embedded contracting team

SPRINGFIELD, IL (03/13/2014)(readMedia)-- A deployment ceremony is scheduled for four Soldiers who will deploy to Afghanistan as part of a specialized contracting team. The ceremony for the 1965th Contingency Contracting Team (CCT) based in Springfield, Ill., will be March 19 at 9 a.m. at Camp Lincoln, 1301 N. MacArthur Blvd. in Springfield, Ill.

The 1965th CCT is a group of highly-skilled contracting officers and contract specialists who execute and administer government funds through contracts to obtain goods, services and construction from commercial sources to support contingency operations. Their mission both domestic and abroad includes disaster relief, facilitating the defense against or recovery from nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological attack against the U.S along with response to situations where the president issues an emergency declaration or major disaster declaration. The 1965th CCT executes its mission both at home and abroad and is embarking to execute contracts in Afghanistan in 2014.

The contracting officers and contract specialists of the 1965th CCT will provide direct force support to the commanders in Afghanistan, enabling them to meet their missions through the procurement of goods and services; construction of facilities, roads and bridges; and services contracts. Through contracts with local national businesses contracting officers meet the requirements of force sustainment while also stimulating the Afghan economy. Contracting teams often are the Soldiers who work behind the scenes getting the commanders in the field the equipment, supplies or infrastructure they need to execute their mission.

The unit will train for a brief time at Fort Bliss, Texas, before deploying to Afghanistan. They are expected to be home by late December.

News media attending the event should arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the ceremony and are asked to contact Public Affairs at 217-761-3569 to gain access to Camp Lincoln.

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Accomplished leader, devoted father moves on PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Illinois National Guard PAO   
Monday, 17 March 2014 07:52

Sherman colonel retiring after 32 years of service; Story by U.S. Army Capt. Randy Dill, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

SPRINGFIELD, IL (03/12/2014)(readMedia)-- Col. Thomas J. Weiss, of Sherman, Ill., is moving to his next chapter of leadership after serving 32 years in the Illinois Army National Guard. Some people may think after more than three decades in the military Weiss would retire, but he is continuing his service in a different form.

"I am going back to teaching, maybe JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) and working my way up the ladder to be a principal," said Weiss.

Less than three weeks after leaving his full-time job with the Illinois National Guard, Weiss accepted a job teaching chemistry at Manual High School in Peoria, Ill. He is also working toward a degree in school administration from the University of Illinois.

Weiss' career in the Army is marked by multiple roles, goals and numerous achievements. Weiss enlisted in the Illinois Army National Guard in 1982 as a combat medic. He completed the Illinois Army National Guard's Officer Candidate School and commissioned as an infantry officer June 9, 1985. He also completed Army Ranger school in 1987 after being told it was impossible for a National Guard officer to complete one of the Army's toughest competitive training programs.

"[Weiss is] one of the hardest working staff officers in the Illinois Army National Guard," said Col. Michael Haerr of Eurkea, Ill., the director of logistics for the Illinois Army National Guard. "He was working to support junior leaders and Soldiers with the training opportunities they needed to be successful in support of our state and nation's defense. He never forgot who he worked for."

Weiss graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor's degree in chemistry and a master's degree in business administration. In addition, he earned a master's degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College. Weiss also gained his credentials as a certified high school teacher, a private pilot and a certified scuba diver.

"Colonel Weiss always wore many hats," said Brig. Gen. Johnny R. Miller of Tamms, Ill., Assistant Adjutant General – Army, Illinois National Guard. "He has been a go-to guy we can rely on to perform and deliver countless times in many different functions."

Prior to his military retirement, Weiss served concurrently as the commander of the 129th Regiment, Regional Training Institute at Camp Lincoln, Springfield, Ill., and as the deputy chief of staff for operations for the Illinois Army National Guard.

Within three years of holding these two roles, the Illinois Officer Candidate School program became one of the largest in the nation, while the individual Soldier qualification rate for Illinois rose from the 50th percentile to the 98th in the nation.

Weiss said one of his proudest accomplishments outside the Army was working with Sherman-Williamsville schools to establish the first youth wrestling program in the district. By working with the school superintendent, principal and school board he developed a co-op with Riverton providing the opportunity for the high school to also have a wrestling program.

Weiss compared his passion for wrestling with that of being a Soldier. His wife, Christie Weiss, went a little further to describe his drive.

"Tom is one of the most driven people I know," said Christie. "If he is passionate about something he will make it a success. This drive is who he is. Anything he touches and puts his mind to becomes a success."

Weiss and his wife have six children, two daughters and four sons. Despite his active military life, he made time to coach each of his children, while also getting involved with his sons' Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs.

When asked what advice he gives to the Army's future leaders going through officer training, the message is simple: "Don't quit."

Weiss recalls telling officer candidates the Army is counting on them to make it through training and become a future leader in the Illinois Army National Guard. He told candidates to stick it out and the training would change them forever.

Weiss' children echo the same mantra when asked what advice their father gave them while growing up.

"Throughout my life, my dad has shared words of advice and encouragement to help me through tough times," said Sara VanDerWal of Springfield, Ill., Weiss' second daughter. "These include: 'Weiss' don't quit,' 'you can't live your life in fear,' 'sprint to the finish,' and many more."

Just as he offered words of support and encouragement to his own family, he is quick to attribute his career in the Army to the mentors he had along the way.

"I love being a Soldier. It is easy to work hard at something you love to do," said Weiss. "I was very fortunate to have several mentors who provided me guidance and direction throughout my career."

His mentors are equally quick to compliment Weiss and recognize his hard work.

"Colonel Weiss is a consummate professional," said Miller. "He has done everything the Army has asked of him and then some. [He is] one of the best operations officers I've ever seen."

His eldest son, Jacob, is a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point and adheres to a lesson his dad taught him at a young age.

"Groups are like strings. You can't get them to do anything by pushing from the back. They just get bunched up. You have to pull from the front and be a leader to get things to happen," Jacob said. "When something needs to get done, I revert back to this piece of knowledge."

Weiss' retirement ceremony is March 22. He said he hopes his 32 years of service will leave a lasting impression on the organization.

"You can learn something from every leader," Weiss said to his son. "They all have lessons to give, but you still have to execute and get the job done."

Grassley: Improve Justice for Victims of Sexual Assault in the Military PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 11 March 2014 09:22
WASHINGTON – Arguing that “we’re past the point of tinkering with the current system,” Senator Chuck Grassley today worked to build bipartisan support for the Military Justice Improvement Act in advance of a vote of 55 to 45 by senators which defeated the bill on a procedural motion that required three-fifths of the votes for passage.


Click here to watch Grassley’s floor statement.


The legislation sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand with Grassley as an original co-sponsor, would have empowered victims to come forward by taking the judicial process for sexual assault cases outside the chain of command.


The proposed reform would move the decision about whether to prosecute any crime punishable by one year or more in confinement to independent, trained, professional military prosecutors.  Thirty-seven crimes that are uniquely military in nature, such as disobeying orders or going Absent Without Leave, would be excepted and remain within the chain of command.  A companion measure is pending in the House of Representatives.


“We’ve had promises from military leaders for years and years about tackling the problem of sexual assault within the current system, but the problem isn’t getting better.  The current system has a deterrent effect on reporting sexual assault, and if sexual assault cases aren’t reported, they can’t be prosecuted,” Grassley said.  “Something as serious and life-altering as sexual assault requires bold action.  And when young people make the commitment to serve their country in uniform and put themselves in harm’s way to defend and protect America’s freedoms, they deserve to know their rights will be protected, including access to justice.”


Last fall, the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, known as DACOWITS, voted overwhelmingly in support of every component of the Military Justice Improvement Act.  This committee was created in 1951 by the Secretary of Defense and includes civilian and retired military women and men to provide advice and recommendations on matters and policies relating to the recruitment and retention, treatment, employment, integration, and well-being of highly qualified professional women in the Armed Forces.


Grassley said that sexual assault in the military isn’t a military matter but a law enforcement matter, and that the Military Justice Improvement Act does justice to the U.S. military code of honor, which is based on integrity and fidelity to the rule of law.


Below is the text of remarks made today by Grassley during Senate debate, along with a recent opinion column in The Des Moines Register and a recent story about the leadership of Air Force Lt. General Michelle Johnson, an Iowan, in combating sexual assault in the military.


Floor Statement of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

Thursday, March 6, 2014


I am proud to partner with Senator Gillibrand as an original cosponsor of the Military Justice Improvement Act and I would like to say a few words about why it is needed.


I appreciate the fact that a large number of common sense reforms were included in the National Defense Authorization Act.


These changes were long overdue.


However, we are past the point of tinkering with the current system and hoping that does the trick.


We have had promises about tackling the problem of sexual assault within the current system for years and years but the problem isn’t getting any better.


We don’t have the luxury of time to try some new reforms of the current system and hope that has an impact.


What’s more, the current system appears to be part of the problem.

Let me elaborate on what I mean by that.


We know from a recent Defense Department report, 50 percent of female victims stated they did not report the crime because they believed that nothing would be done with their report.


Seventy-four percent of females and 60 percent of males perceived one or more barriers to reporting sexual assault.


Sixty-two percent of victims who reported a sexual assault indicated they perceived some form of professional, social, and/or administrative retaliation.


We can talk about protections for victims and we can enact more protections as we did in the National Defense Authorization Act.


But, the fact remains that the current structure of the Military Justice System is having a deterrent effect on reporting of sexual assault.  If sexual assault cases aren’t reported, they can’t be prosecuted.


If sexual assault isn’t prosecuted, predators will remain in the military and that results in a perception that sexual assault is tolerated in the military culture.


That destroys morale and it destroys lives.


If an enemy tried to sew that kind of discord among our military, we wouldn’t tolerate it, but we are doing it to ourselves.


The men and women who have volunteered to place their lives on the line deserve better than that and our military readiness demands it.


Taking prosecutions out of the hands of commanders and giving them to professional prosecutors who are independent of the chain of command will help ensure impartial justice for the men and women of our armed forces.


I know some senators will be nervous about the fact that the military is lobbying against this legislation.


I have the greatest respect for our military leaders, but Congress has given the military leadership more than enough time to try and fix the current system.


We can’t wait any longer.


We also hear that this measure will affect the ability of commanders to retain “good order and discipline.”


Our legislation in no way takes away the ability of commanders to punish troops under their command for military infractions.


Commanders also can and should be held accountable for the climate under their command.


But, the point here is that sexual assault is a law enforcement matter – not a military one.


If anyone wants official assurances that we are on the right track, we can take confidence in the fact that an advisory committee appointed by the Secretary of Defense himself supports our reforms.


On September 27, 2013, the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) voted overwhelmingly in support of each and every one of the components of the legislation before us.


DACOWITS was created in 1951 by then Secretary of Defense, George C.  Marshall.


The Committee is composed of civilian and retired military women and men who are appointed by the Secretary of Defense to provide advice and recommendations on matters and policies relating to the recruitment and retention, treatment, employment, integration, and well-being of highly qualified professional women in the Armed Forces.


Historically, the recommendations by DACOWITS have been very instrumental in effecting changes to laws and policies pertaining to military women.


This isn’t an outside advocacy group or ad hoc panel.  It’s a longstanding advisory committee handpicked by the Secretary of Defense and it supports the substance of our legislation to a tee.

It’s easier to support incremental reform.


In fact, it is often prudent to try small reforms before making bigger changes.


I understand why some senators are nervous about a total overhaul of the military justice system.


It isn’t something I approach lightly.


However, we have waited for years as various initiatives to tackle this problem have been tried.


When we are talking about something as serious and life altering as sexual assault, we cannot afford to wait any longer than we already have.


The time has come to act decisively to change the military culture.


We need a clean break from the system where sexual assault isn’t reported because of a perception that justice won’t be done.


Our men and women serving this country deserve nothing less and they deserve it now.


They shouldn’t have to wait any longer for justice.


For those reluctant to take this step now, I would say: if the more modest reforms proposed by others prove insufficient and we have to come back and enact our reforms at a later time, how will you justify your vote today?


Now is the time for bold action and I would urge all my colleagues to join us.


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