Military & Veterans News
Eight Illinois National Guard Soldiers earn Expert Infantryman Badge PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Illinois National Guard PAO   
Friday, 18 July 2014 14:40

Three awarded additional Army Achievement Medal for perfect performance

CAMP ATTERBURY, IND (07/18/2014)(readMedia)-- After five continuous days of testing, eight Illinois National Guard Soldiers earned the Expert Infantryman Badge (EIB) at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, July 17. Three of the Soldiers performed each of the 39 tasks to standard on the first attempt and was awarded an Army Achievement Medal.

"It really brings out the best of us as infantrymen," said Spc. Michael Schaefer of Mundelein, Illinois, an infantryman with Troop C, 2nd Squadron, 106th Cavalry Regiment in Aurora, Illinois. "It is a lot of helping each other out and getting each other squared away for each day's tasks. Everyone has really worked together to try and get each other as far as they can."

Seventy-seven Infantrymen from the Illinois National Guard put forth their greatest effort to wear the prestigious badge. The Soldiers hailed from the 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment; 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment; and 2nd Squadron, 106th Cavalry Regiment, all units within the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

The EIB test measured Soldiers' physical fitness and ability to perform to standards of excellence in a broad spectrum of critical infantry skills. The Army Physical Fitness Test and land navigation was held the first day, followed by lanes the next three days.

During EIB lanes, Soldiers were tested on the M9 Pistol, M4 Carbine Rifle, M240B Machine Gun, M249 Machine Gun, MK19 40mm Grenade Machine Gun, M136 (AT4) Rocket Launcher, .50-Caliber M2 Machine Gun, and M320 Grenade Launcher.

"There is a lot of memorization and getting the sequences right and doing the steps in the right order that takes a lot of mental ability along with physical," said Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Wells of Glen Carbon, Illinois, a platoon sergeant with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment in Litchfield, Illinois. "Staying focused and on task was the key to success."

In addition to skills testing on multiple weapons, Soldiers were evaluated on a range of tasks such as move under direct fire, identify and react to possible improvised explosive device, provide tactical combat casualty care, employ an M18A1 Claymore Mine and hand grenade, perform voice communications and use visual signaling techniques.

"These are tasks these guys do in their job all the time, so they should have good fundamental knowledge and then we work on refining it to standard," said Sgt. 1st Class Aric Schwab of Plainfield, Illinois, a EIB grader with Company D, 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment in Woodstock, Illinois. "The task is on them. They just have to perform the task to time and standard and we are here to give them feedback on how they performed."

After performing the skills testing, Soldiers ended with a 12-mile foot march in less than three hours to secure their goal of wearing an EIB.

"It's such a coveted thing for an infantryman to get," said Schaefer. "There is such a huge history and it's by no means easy to achieve. You really have to be focused and determined and that's what boils down to an infantryman; working hard everyday and staying focused, working together to achieve a common goal. The EIB is what an 11 Bravo is."

This is the first time in many years Illinois National Guard Soldiers had the opportunity to earn an EIB. Infantrymen from both Active Duty and National Guard units participated in this year's 205th Infantry Brigade, Camp Atterbury, Indiana, Regional EIB competition.

"The goal is to continue sending Illinois Soldiers to EIB next year," said Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Beck of Eagle, Wisconsin, the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team sergeant major. "It was a great opportunity for our Soldiers to experience camaraderie with Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division who is partnered with the 33rd IBCT for the Total Force Partnership."

No matter if the Soldier received a badge or not, there were valuable skills gained.

"When they come here and go through the training, they know about everything they need to know to take back and teach their unit," said Schwab. "They don't have to come back with their badge to be a better Soldier. They are better off either way."

Infantrymen who earned the EIB and Army Achievement Medal include:

• Staff Sgt. Anthony Henner of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a sniper section leader with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment in Chicago

• Spc. Michael Schaefer of Mundelein, Illinois, an infantryman with Troop C, 2nd Squadron, 106th Cavalry Regiment in Aurora, Illinois

• Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Wells of Glen Carbon, Illinois, a platoon sergeant with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment in Litchfield, Illinois

Infantrymen who earned the EIB include:

• 1st Lt. Michael Kuvales of Palos Hills, Illinois with Troop B, 2nd Squadron, 106th Cavalry Regiment in Dixon, Illinois

• 1st Lt. Lavern Meissner of Niles, Illinois, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment in Chicago

• Spc. Anthony Miller of Springfield, Illinois, with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment in Litchfield, Illinois

• Sgt. Uriah Porter of Du Quoin, Illinois, with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment in West Frankfort, Illinois

• Pfc. Steven Smith of Washington, Illinois, with Company A, 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment in Bartonville, Illinois

Help Our Veterans PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by John Bury   
Thursday, 17 July 2014 13:51
Without our veterans and those who made the ultimate sacrifice, where would America be today?  It is any ones guess, however certainly not the Freedom and Liberty we enjoy.  We have ownership, jobs, health care, cars, any number of opportunities, we fought for freedom over a few centuries. There are those who would take away what we have as Americans.  We continue to maintain an armed force to protect our boarders so we can continue to enjoy what we do have.  Something to give serious thought to.

Our men and women in uniform stand ready and willing to rise to those who would take away our freedom.  Those who survived the battles of years past and present day, many come home broken in need of help as was promised. Where does this help come from?  It comes from Veterans Affairs a government run agency regulated by our government.  But in view of scandalous indiscretions, many veterans are simply tossed aside in a hurry up and wait situation whereas many die just waiting for help.  What is wrong with this picture?  Improprieties and interpretation of who gets what and for what, torn bodies, PTSD, cancer.  O, just let them wait, maybe they will die.  Is this how our veterans should be treated who fought the battles?

The American people need to stand up and be counted, urge our elected legislators to do what is right to care for those in need.  Call your members of Congress to do what is right for our veterans.

Illinois National Guard places first in qualified Soldiers PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Illinois National Guard PAO   
Thursday, 17 July 2014 09:02

SPRINGFIELD, IL (07/16/2014)(readMedia)-- SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – This week's National Guard Bureau qualification scorecard found the Illinois Army National Guard moved to first place among the states and territories for duty military occupational specialty qualified (DMOSQ) Soldiers. Of the available 8,983 Soldiers assigned, 8,713 are military occupational specialty (MOS) qualified, which is a success rate of 97.5 percent.

A Soldier is DMOSQ when he or she graduates from a school required to qualify for the job specialty.

"The importance of this is about being a ready and relevant force," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Mark Hebenstreit of Springfield, Illinois, human resources specialist for the personnel branch. "Units need to be able to perform missions, not only for deployments, but federal and state missions. It is important to have trained and competent Soldiers in the units to perform homeland security and combat missions."

The training branch (G3) and the personnel branch (G1) are responsible for identifying Soldiers who need to qualify in their occupational specialty and processing school applications in a timely manner.

"There is a 30-day window when we are allowed to obtain seats from other states," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Melton of Springfield, Illinois, training technician in the Individual Training Branch (G3/7). "We have to stay on top of the packets and process applications."

Melton called multiple states to use allocated school seats. Other states gave unused seats to Illinois, allowing Illinois to send more Soldiers to school.

"This is a team effort between the G3, G1 and the major subordinate command's," said Master Sgt. Christopher Anderson of Dixon, Illinois, the quota source manager for the G3. "It's challenging to get to number one in the state; it is a committed effort in proper manning."

While Illinois is currently number one, the numbers can fluctuate easily, as Soldiers move units and change jobs.

"We try to get the Solders trained as soon as possible," said Melton.

To be effective it is important the Soldiers know their jobs and are DMOSQ.

"We must be committed to ensuring our Soldiers are highly trained," said Lt. Col. Stanely Manes of Springfield, Illinois, chief training division.

Gov. Terry E. Branstad orders flags at half-staff to honor World War II veteran repatriated Missing in action World War II Airman Staff Sgt. Robert E. Howard PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Office of the Governor of the State of Iowa   
Tuesday, 15 July 2014 12:43
After remaining missing for 69 years, Moulton, Iowa, native to return home Saturday to final resting place at Sunset View Cemetery in Moulton


(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry Branstad has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in Iowa from 5 p.m. Friday, July 18, 2014, until 8 a.m. Monday, July 21, 2014, in honor of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert “Bobby” E. Howard, formerly of Moulton, Iowa. A photo of Staff Sgt. Howard may be found here.

Howard, a 21-year old serving with the 450th Bomber Squadron, 322nd Bomber Group, Medium, 9th Air Force, U.S. Army Air Corps, was last seen April 16, 1945, as his unit was conducting a bombing mission over Germany. His flight was shot down and crashed near Wittenburg, Germany. Only one of the six crew members was able to parachute from the aircraft and was taken prisoner by German forces. Howard and four other crewmembers were declared deceased, but their remains were never found.

In 2012, the Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command – Central Identification Laboratory (JPAC) received information from German Officials of human remains found within a burial site located close to the possible aircraft crash site. In 2014, JPAC’s Research and Analysis Group concluded a historical association drawn from Missing Air Crew Report #14463 and artifacts and human remains recovered at the excavation site. Mitochondrial DNA testing positively identified part of the remains belonging to Staff Sgt. Howard.

Robert Howard was born December, 19, 1923, in Moulton, Iowa. He graduated from Moravia Public School in Moravia, Iowa, in 1941, and participated in marching band, orchestra, concert band and dramatics.

Howard enlisted in the U.S. Army on March 19, 1943, and transferred into the U.S. Air Army Air Corps. His military awards and honors include the Purple Heart, Air Medal (with one silver and two bronze Oak Leaf Clusters), Army Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (with three bronze service stars), World War II Victory Medal and Enlisted Crew Wings.

Howard is survived by brothers Harold and Dennis, both of Des Moines, sisters Evelyn Lewin of Indianola, Janie Ballanger of Coatsville, Mo., and Evelyn June Nance of Tulsa, Okla., and by many nieces, nephews and extended family members. His parents and his sister, Betty Howard Harvey are deceased.

The Governor's directive applies to all U.S. and state flags under the control of the state. H.R. 692, signed in 2007, requires federal government agencies in the state to comply with the Governor's Executive Order that the U.S. flag be flown at half-staff in the event of the death of a member of the Armed Forces.

A memorial service will be held at Sunset View Cemetery in Moulton, Iowa, on July 19, 2014, at 11 a.m., with full military honors provided by the Iowa National Guard. The cemetery is located north of Moulton, at the northeast corner of highway 202 and 535th Street. The memorial service is open the public.

Flags will be at half-staff on the State Capitol Building and on flag displays in the Capitol Complex, and upon all public buildings, grounds, and facilities throughout the state. Individuals, businesses, schools, municipalities, counties and other government subdivisions are encouraged to fly the flag at half-staff for the same length of time as a sign of respect.


Braley, Joined by Bipartisan Coalition, Introduces Comprehensive Legislation to Address Veteran Suicide, Mental Health PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Kirsten Hartman   
Friday, 11 July 2014 12:56

Congressman: ‘Our commitment to America’s veterans needs to match the commitment they’ve made to us’

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today joined a bipartisan group in introducing comprehensive legislation designed to address the escalating rate of suicide among America’s veterans—the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act.

“The suicide rate among America’s veterans represents a national crisis,” Braley said. “This legislation won’t solve the problem overnight—but it will get more resources where they’re desperately needed. Our commitment to America’s veterans needs to match the commitment they’ve made to us, especially when it comes to this issue.”


The bill is named after Clay Hunt, a decorated Marine combat veteran, who took his own life in 2011 after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The act contains a host of provisions which include sections that would:


  • Require an independent third party to annually evaluate the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs mental health care and suicide prevention programs.

·         Require that a board of review, when looking at an appeal of a veteran who was discharged, must consider in their final decision if a veteran had Post Traumatic Stress or a Traumatic Brain Injury related to combat or military sexual trauma with evidence provided by the VA or civilian providers.

·         Require the VA to publish an interactive website designed to serve as a centralized source of information regarding all mental health services.

·         Require the VA and the National Guard to enter into partnerships in order to improve mental health treatment for servicemembers.

·         Require a review of staffing requirements for states with respect to Directors of Psychological Health.

·         Create a VA pilot program to assist veterans who are reintegrating back into the community, to assist with the difficult and unique challenges they face.

In April, Braley hosted a series of roundtables around the state listening to experts and veterans service organizations to discuss the high level of post-traumatic stress and high suicide rates that have been reported for servicemembers returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Braley has championed the Veterans Access to Care Act, legislation that seeks to expand veterans’ access to quality healthcare by helping the Veterans Administration and state veterans’ homes recruit more highly-qualified doctors, nurses, and mental health providers to provide services to America’s veterans.

A link to Braley’s legislation can be found online HERE.

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