Military & Veterans News
Shutdown affects on Illinois National Guard PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Illinois National Guard PAO   
Tuesday, 01 October 2013 15:27

SPRINGFIELD, IL (10/01/2013)(readMedia)-- The federal government shutdown will mean temporary layoffs of some state employees and the indefinite furlough of more than 1,100 Illinois National Guard federal technicians.

"This has been a difficult year for our technicians and their families," said Brig. Gen. Daniel M. Krumrei, the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard. "They along with our state employees are hard working, professional people who are tirelessly dedicated to our mission; helping our neighbors, defending our nation and protecting the state. This is no way to treat these patriots and heroes who train, mobilize, serve, sacrifice, bleed and die: just like every other Soldier and Airman. It is long past time we treat the National Guard with the dignity and equality they have earned in over 300 years of service to the people of this nation."

During the past four months, federal government officials furloughed more than 1,100 employees for up to five days. The nation requires these Soldiers to be active, traditional members of the Illinois National Guard who wear their military uniforms to work daily. However, under fiscal law the National Guard must treat these employees differently than other full-time military members.

Approximately 80 military civilian employees who support critical life and safety activities are exempt from the furlough.

Because the federal government reimburses the state for 53 Illinois Department of Military Affairs employees, the Adjutant General is also forced to layoff these employees.

The shutdown also caused the termination of the contracts of 15 employees paid through the State's Master Cooperative Agreement with the federal government.

Branstad accepts resignation of Iowa Veterans Home Commandant David Worley, appoints Gen. Jodi Tymeson to serve as new commandant PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Tim Albrecht   
Tuesday, 01 October 2013 15:07

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry E. Branstad today accepted the resignation of Iowa Veterans Home Commandant David Worley, effective tomorrow.

Branstad has appointed current IVH COO Gen. Jodi Tymeson as the new commandant at the Iowa Veterans Home.

“I want to thank David for his years of service and important changes at the Iowa Veterans Home, and am pleased General Jodi Tymeson will take on this important role for Iowa’s veterans,” said Branstad.

Worley served in the previous administration, and was retained by Gov. Branstad to serve in the commandant position.  The text of his letter is as follows:

Dear Governor,

It has been a great honor to serve our nation’s bravest citizens as Commandant of the Iowa Veterans Home. During my tenure, my top priority has been to provide the excellent standard of care Iowa’s veterans have earned and deserved. Care of our veterans and their spouses always comes first. I worked hard to maintain that standard, and believe we have made a number of positive changes for the betterment of our veterans.

At this time, however, I have made the decision to seek other opportunities. While I am proud of the progress we made, it is with a solemn sense of respect and gratitude for the Iowa Veterans Home that I will be stepping down as the Iowa Veterans Home Commandant effective tomorrow.

I want to thank you for giving me your confidence to serve in this position. It has been an honor to serve the people of Iowa in this role. I want to thank Jodi Tymeson, my fellow staff at the Veterans Home, the volunteers, and families who all contributed to a very positive experience during my tenure.

I will continue to pray for the veterans our home serves. I am thankful for the heroism they provided to defend our nation, and am grateful I had the opportunity to serve them as Commandant. They will have my eternal admiration.

Respectfully submitted,

David G Worley

Commandant, Iowa Veterans Home

# # #

Simon: Government shutdown hurts military communities PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Annie Thompson   
Tuesday, 01 October 2013 15:04

Thousands in defense and military communities facing furloughs

SPRINGFIELD – October 1, 2013. As chair of the Interagency Military Base Support and Economic Development Committee (IMBSEDC), Lt. Governor Sheila Simon urged Congress to end the stalemate that has resulted in a federal government shutdown. Illinois is home to three military bases that employ thousands of civilian workers who are now facing furloughs, and river cities such as Peoria are facing new risks..

As the battle to end the government shutdown rages on in Washington, the effects are already being felt here in Illinois. The state’s military bases employ military and civilian personnel that are a vital part of the state’s economy and national defense.

“The men and women employed at Illinois’ military installations serve our country and deserve the support of their government,” said Simon. “I encourage members of Congress to think of these families that now worry about putting food on the table, and work toward a meaningful compromise.”

Approximately 2,500 civilian employees at Naval Station Great Lakes, as well as two-thirds of Scott Air Force Base’s 5,000 civilian workers are facing furloughs. At Rock Island Arsenal, around 3,000 civilian employees could be affected.

Throughout the summer, Simon’s office convened listening posts in the Metro East, Quad Cities and North Chicago, all of which neighbor military installations and are already struggling with the economic impact of sequestration and the possibility of future cuts. In order to maximize participation, residents were also able to participate via an online survey, which received hundreds of responses.

The survey and listening posts were administered in partnership with the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA). More than 750 participants answered questions pertaining to business opportunities, education, workforce training and quality of life. Preliminary review of data has shown shared concerns related to the availability of jobs and the quality of education. Simon also heard from business owners who talked about the boost civilian and military personnel give local businesses, support that cannot be counted on now as thousands of workers face being furloughed.

In mid-October, Simon will present the findings to the IMBSEDC. The IMBSEDC coordinates the state’s activities and communications relating to current and former military bases in Illinois, and provides advice and recommendations for base retention, realignment and reuse.

Simon also chairs the Mississippi, Illinois, and Wabash and Ohio River Coordinating Councils, which are charged with reviewing state and federal programs that impact the watersheds and working with local communities to raise awareness of and address watershed issues. As Simon convenes the quarterly meeting of the Illinois Rivers Coordinating Council later today in Peoria, federal Coast Guard reservists and civilian inspectors who work to protect the Illinois River are also being impacted by the furloughs. Officials have said they are coordinating with local law enforcement to ensure continued enforcement along the river.

Simon is encouraging residents to contact their elected officials here to demand an end to the shutdown.


5 Things Americans Should Know about Guantánamo PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 01 October 2013 13:33
Former Intelligence Officer Says U.S. Isn’t Getting Full Story
Regarding Prison

When was the last time you read, saw or heard much from the media about the Guantánamo Bay prison? Eric Wentz, a 26-year veteran of the U.S. Navy who worked as an interrogator and linguist at the prison, says it’s no mistake if you haven’t.

“I remember when there were Guantánamo stories on a near-daily basis – that was when President Bush was in office. But there have been comparatively few Gitmo stories during President Obama’s tenure,” says Wentz, a former intelligence officer and  author of a new Readers Choice Award-winning novel based on his experiences, “Killing Sharks: De Profundis,” (

“The United States is still holding more than 160 prisoners at our prison in Cuba and, while critics here and abroad have protested their indefinite detention without charges or trials, they represent a real risk to our national security,” Wentz says.

“Americans should be well-informed when these debates arise, and they simply are not.”

Wentz reviews five things the American public should know about Guantánamo.

• Letting go of detainees is not a good option. Al-Qaeda’s current No. 1 and No. 2 leaders in Yemen were once prisoners at Guantánamo, and the terrorist group’s No. 1 in Libya also came from the prison. In Southern Russia, a number of former detainees went on a rampage, killing more than 100 innocents during a single afternoon of attacks. In fact, these outcomes after detainees are released have become so common, Wikipedia has a page devoted to it: “lists of former Guantanamo Bay detainees alleged to have returned to terrorism.”

• The potential for diplomatic chaos. It’s not hard to ruffle the feathers of other world powers, which often compromises U.S. relations globally, as witnessed in the aftermath of Edward Snowden’s leaks of NSA spying and the Syrian crisis. Imagine the blowback onto the United States if one of its military bases frees a detainee that later assassinates another nation’s leader or government official.

• Gitmo: the misinformation campaign. During Wentz’s time at the prison, there was absolutely no indication that torture of any kind ever occurred. “To my knowledge, only four terrorists were ever waterboarded – and that was done by the CIA, and not at Guantánamo,” he says. Yet reporting insinuates that torture is a common occurrence there. “I once read a headline: ‘Guantánamo Detainee, Who Was Waterboarded, Tells Int’l Community ….’ It doesn’t say where the waterboarding occurred, but the insinuation is there.” Such misinformation campaigns are among the tactics outlined in the Manchester Document, also known as the al-Qaeda Handbook.

• The International Red Cross says Gitmo is well run. The prison is well-run and should be a model for the treatment of prisoners worldwide – this is according to an assessment from the International Red Cross. This good news regarding the prison is likely something you’ve never read. Americans have been fed a steady stream of only bad news about the prison, but there are good reasons for its existence.

• Consider the source – the lawyers of detainees and their plea to the public. The only news coming out from Gitmo recently has involved the detainees’ hunger strike, which has had some success in its original purpose: to build sympathy. One of the lawyers for the detainees has also represented, in past decades, members of the Irish Republican Army, who used the same tactic while imprisoned by the British. The hunger strike came shortly after the lawyer’s visit, Wentz says, and it’s not coincidence. Additionally, while the British didn’t use feeding tubes, the U.S. military has, which is something detainees have come to count on, he says.

About Eric Wentz

Eric Wentz is a 26-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, having served as an intelligence officer, interrogator and linguist. He has a bachelor’s degree in history and English literature, a master’s degree in linguistics, and a Master of Science degree and doctorate in educational administration. He is also a certified SCUBA diver and an experienced canoeist. His novel, “Killing Sharks: De Profundis,” has won the Readers Choice Book Reviews Bronze Award.

Governor Quinn Honors Families of Fallen Illinois Heroes with Gold Star Mothers Ceremony PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Grant Klinzman   
Tuesday, 01 October 2013 08:38

Three Mothers of Fallen Servicemembers Presented with Gold Star Banners 

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today presented Gold Star banners to three Illinois mothers whose sons died while serving their country in the Global War on Terror. Governor Quinn signed legislation to formally designate Gold Star Mothers Day in Illinois starting in 2009, and today’s action is part of his agenda to honor and support the men and women who have served our nation.

“It is very important that we honor our Gold Star mothers, whose sons and daughters answered the call to duty and made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of our nation,” Governor Quinn said. “We must remember these brave individuals who lost their purposeful lives while fighting for democracy. I thank each of our Gold Star mothers for instilling the ethic of service in their children, whose legacies live on in each of you gathered here today.”

The three mothers honored today are:

Colleen Stevens, mother of U.S. Army Sergeant Schuyler B. Patch of Kewanee.

Eva Hawking, mother of U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Nickolas A. Daniels of Elmwood Park.

Deborah Cyr, mother of U.S. Air Force Captain Brandon L. Cyr of Oswego.

“Supporting the families of our fallen is a deeply important part of what we do at the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs,” Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Erica Borggren said. “Today, we stand with our Gold Star Mothers, remembering and honoring their loss and keeping alive the memory of their sons and daughters.”

The ceremony, which was co-sponsored by the USO of Illinois, marked Gold Star Mother’s Day. The day has been commemorated on the last Sunday in September since President Franklin Roosevelt declared the first Gold Star Mother’s Day in 1936.

American Airlines and Verizon Wireless again sponsored the Illinois 2013 Gold Star ceremony for the seventh straight year along with the American Legion. Starwood Hotels, Vendor Assistance Program and Union League Club of Chicago provided the accommodations for the out-of-town guests.

Governor Quinn has made our veterans, servicemembers and their families one of his top priorities throughout his career in public service. He has led programs including the Illinois Warrior Assistance Program and the Veterans Cash lottery ticket, which has awarded more than $10 million to not-for-profit organizations across the state that provide health care and post-traumatic stress disorder treatment, housing assistance, disability benefits and other services to Illinois Veterans. He also championed numerous veterans’ causes during his service as Lieutenant Governor and Illinois Treasurer. In 2011, Governor Quinn launched the Welcome Home Heroes program to support Illinois servicemembers seeking homeownership.

Presenting Gold Stars to mothers is an American tradition dating back to 1918, at the end of World War I. At that time, President Woodrow Wilson suggested that instead of wearing conventional mourning black from head to toe, families of men and women who had died in service to their country should wear a black armband with a gold star to signify their loss and their pride. Bereaved families also displayed Gold Star banners – gold stars on a white background with a wide red border – in the windows of their homes.

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