All eligible donors are urged to give blood or platelets to help replenish decreasing supply

PEORIA, Ill. (February 3, 2011) - The massive winter storm that pounded much of the United States this week increased the number of canceled blood and platelet donations through the American Red Cross to nearly 23,000 since January 1, 2011. Of that number, 1,027 donations have been canceled in Illinois, eastern Iowa and eastern Missouri since Monday, January 31. The situation continues to stress the Red Cross national blood supply for more than 3,000 hospitals across the country.

"The need for blood is constant - patients can't take a snow day," said Shelly Heiden, CEO of the Heart of America Blood Services Region.  "We want our donors to stay safe when severe weather strikes. But if it is safe to travel, it's important to schedule a blood or platelet donation appointment to help replenish the blood supply."

The Red Cross urges all eligible donors in unaffected areas to make an appointment to give blood or platelets today, and those in affected areas to donate as soon as travel is safe, by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or by visiting HTUredcrossblood.orgUTH. All blood types are needed, but there is a special need for donors with type O negative, A negative and B negative blood. Donations will help replenish the Red Cross blood supply to ensure that blood products are readily available for patients with serious medical needs. A listing of upcoming blood drives follows at the end of this news release.

The Red Cross overstocked major medical centers in some of the hardest hit areas in the Midwest earlier in the week expecting airport and road closures. All wheel drive Red Cross vehicles were also readied and deployed to make emergency deliveries. And local law enforcement assisted with emergency deliveries of blood products in some cases.

People have been responding to the call for blood donations, and the Red Cross is grateful to those who are stepping up to donate blood and build the blood supply back to sufficient levels. Every two seconds a patient in the United States needs a blood transfusion. Blood is perishable and has no substitute. Red blood cells have a shelf life of only 42 days and platelets just 5 days - they must be replenished constantly.

Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.  Please bring your Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when you come to donate.

Helping those affected by the storm
TThe American Red Cross has also been on the ground in 19 states, offering food, comfort and a safe place to stay to people affected by the massive winter storm which has buried the country in ice and snow from the Rocky Mountains to Maine.

In Chicago alone, more than 360 people spent Tuesday night in Red Cross shelters. Many were motorists stranded by the storm. In Tulsa, Red Cross disaster workers housed almost 70 people Tuesday night who could not make it home due to the storm.

To help people affected by this winter storm and thousands of disasters in this country and around the world, visit HTUredcross.orgUTH, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

About the American Red Cross
Governed by volunteers and supported by giving individuals and communities, the American Red Cross is the single largest supplier of blood products to hospitals throughout the United States. While local hospital needs are always met first, the Red Cross also helps ensure no patient goes without blood no matter where or when they need it. In addition to providing nearly half of the nation's blood supply, the Red Cross provides relief to victims of disaster, trains millions in lifesaving skills, serves as a communication link between U.S. military members and their families, and assists victims of international disasters or conflicts.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today announced that the University of Iowa has been awarded two separate grants totaling $949,079 to perform medical research.  The funding was awarded by the National Institutes of Health.  Senator Harkin is Chairman of both the Senate Health Committee and the Appropriations subcommittee that funds health and medical research programs.  

"Today's funding will help the University of Iowa stay at the forefront of critical medical research," said Harkin. "These projects will accelerate research in their respective areas, and help improve our understanding of the afflictions so many Americans face.  Congratulations to the University on receiving this funding."  

Information on the grants follows.

$374,100 for allergy, immunology and transplantation research. Specifically, the funding will be used to study ECF Sigma Factors and the Cell Envelope Stress Response of Clostridium difficile.  The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is the awarding agency.

$574,979 for mental health research. Specifically, the funding will be used to study Combined Illness Management and Psychotherapy in Treating Depressed Elders. The National Institute of Mental Health is the awarding agency.

Put Your Snow Day to Good Use!

Put your snow day to good use honing your trivia game skills in preparation for trivia fun the night before "the Big Game."  The Arc of Rock Island County announces its continued partnership with St. Anne's Parish for the Third Annual Trivia Night on Saturday, February 5, benefiting St. Anne's Parish and The Arc of Rock Island County.  $10 per player, payable at the door.  Features teams of three minimum, up to a maximum of eight.  Participants are welcome to bring snacks (only) and drinks will be available for purchase.  There will also be 50/50 Drawings and Theme Basket raffles.  Reservations recommended as seating is limited.   Register or volunteer by calling 309-786-6474.  The Arc gratefully acknowledges Southeast National Bank, KONE Employees Credit Union, and our auction basket donors for sponsoring this family-fun event.

 

Saturday, February 5, 2011 

5:30 PM - doors open

6:30 PM - trivia game begins

 

Location:

St. Anne's Parish

Cleary Hall

602-17thAvenue

East Moline, IL

 

Event Contact Info:

Jan Haugen

309-755-4876 or 309-781-4508

Maureen Dickinson

309-786-6474 or dickinsonm@arcric.org

 

Founded in 1952, The Arc is committed to living and working

in partnership with the community to support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) today made the following comments on the Senate floor about the importance of health reform and the consequences of repealing the law. The Senate is expected to vote on a Republican amendment that would repeal the Affordable Care Act, the health reform bill that was signed into law last year. Repeal would deprive millions of Americans of important protections against insurance companies, raise health costs, cut funding to rural hospitals in Iowa, and, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, increase the federal deficit by $230 billion by 2021.  Harkin's remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below.  Harkin is Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, as well as the Appropriations subcommittee that funds the Department of Health and Human Services.

"Mr. President, if there is one clear message that voters sent in the past election, it is that they want Democrats and Republicans in Congress to cut out the bickering and partisanship, and to focus like a laser beam on boosting the economy, creating jobs, and reducing the deficit.  

"So I find it absolutely astonishing that the Republicans' No. 1 priority - their obsession - in these opening weeks of the new Congress is to launch bitter new partisan attacks on the new health reform law, and to attempt to repeal it - something that would cost hundreds of thousands of jobs and add $240 billion to the deficit over the next decade.

"It would be sufficient to oppose this reckless amendment strictly on budgetary grounds.  As I said, it would add $240 billion to the deficit in the first decade, and nearly $1 trillion in the second decade.  The sponsors of the amendment have proposed no offsets whatsoever.  So for all the Republicans' crocodile tears over big budget deficits, their first action in the new Congress is to propose adding nearly a quarter trillion to the deficits over the next 10 years!

"The Congressional Budget Office is our only objective, nonpartisan referee when it comes to budget projections.  CBO has told us, in no uncertain terms, that the McConnell amendment will add $240 billion to the deficit.

"The Republicans' lame response is to attack the credibility of CBO and to claim that the hundreds of billions in budget savings thanks to the new health reform law are supposedly based on "gimmicks."  That is complete nonsense.  The budget savings in this new law are real.  If anything, CBO has underestimated the savings that will come about as a result of the robust wellness and prevention provisions in the new law - provisions that will keep Americans healthy and out of the hospital in the first place.

"I would simply add that if the savings in the new law were based on gimmicks, then those gimmicks would certainly show up by the second decade of the law's implementation.  That's the nature of gimmicks - they eventually get exposed.  But the savings in the new law actually skyrocket in the second decade to nearly $1 trillion.   So to wildly assert that the savings are based on gimmicks is flat wrong; it is irresponsible.

"Let's be clear, the Republicans' obsession with repealing the new health reform law is not based on budgetary considerations.  It is based strictly on ideology.  They oppose the law's crackdown on abuses by health insurance companies.  And they oppose any serious effort by the federal government to secure health insurance coverage for tens of millions of Americans who currently have none.  

"We all remember William Buckley's conservative motto.  He said that the role of conservatives is "to stand athwart history yelling stop!"

"In 1935, Franklin Roosevelt passed Social Security, providing basic retirement security for every American.  Republicans fought it bitterly.   And 75 years later, they are still trying to undo it!

"In 1965, Lyndon Johnson passed Medicare, ensuring seniors' access to decent health care.  Republicans fought it bitterly.  And 45 years later, they are still trying to undo it!

"Well, here they go again!

"By the way, notice that the Republicans are no longer even pretending to offer a realistic, comprehensive alternative.  They used to talk about "repeal and replace."  Now their focus is mostly on "repeal."  

"As always, the Republican approach to health reform can be summed up in five words:  Pray you don't get sick!

"So make no mistake: The fight to provide access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans has only just begun.

"The same ideologues who came up with the Big Lies about "death panels" and "pulling the plug on grandma" are rolling out their latest campaign of misinformation.

"The good news is that, this time around, the dynamics of the debate have shifted.  

"Just as I long predicted, as people learn more about the great things in the Affordable Care Act - benefits and protections that are now guaranteed by law - support for health care reform is growing steadily.    

"A year ago, we were bogged down in the messy, frustrating politics of passing the bill.  This time around, the law is the law, and what's at stake is crystal clear:

"Are we going to put the health insurance companies back in the driver's seat - once again free to discriminate based on preexisting conditions, free to cancel your policy when you get sick, free to cut off payments?

"Are we going to revoke access to health insurance for more than 30 million Americans?

"Are we going to add hundreds of billions of dollars - and, eventually, trillions of dollars - to the deficit by wiping out all of the savings in the Affordable Care Act?

"Are we going to impose higher taxes on up to four million small businesses that are eligible for health care tax credits thanks to the new law?

"Mr. President, I also want to rebut the extreme, ideological attacks on the "individual mandate" in the new law.  Republicans claim that this is somehow an "assault on freedom."  Well, it is certainly an assault on the freedom to go without insurance, show up at the emergency room, and stick other Americans with your health care bills!

"The individual mandate is just common sense - that's why so many Republicans supported it in the past.  

"Senator John Chafee's reform bill in the early 1990s included an individual mandate; it was supported by Republican Senators Grassley, Hatch, and Lugar.  

"More recently, the original Wyden-Bennett bill, including an individual mandate, was supported by Senators Alexander, Crapo, Corker, Graham, and Grassley.  

"And, as we all know, the individual mandate was a critical piece of Republican Governor Mitt Romney's health reform in Massachusetts.   

"As I said, it's just common sense.  By eliminating free riders and putting everyone in the risk pool, we keep rates down for everyone.  And it's the only way that people with preexisting conditions are not left out in the cold.

"When we join together, we have more freedom.

"When everyone is covered and no one is left out, we enhance liberty.  

"Health reform is all about freedom - freedom from the fear that if you get sick, you won't be able to afford a doctor . . . freedom from the fear that a major illness will lead to financial ruin.  These are the practical freedoms that really matter to Americans.

"Mr. President, I can't tell you how many people have come up to me to thank me and other sponsors for passing the Affordable Care Act.  They tell me how it has personally affected their families in profoundly positive ways.  

"Let me tell you about Sarah Posekany of Cedar Falls, Iowa.  She was diagnosed with Crohn's disease when she was 15 years old.  During her first year of college, she ran into complications from Crohn's, which forced her to drop her classes in order to heal after multiple surgeries. Because she was no longer a full-time student, her parents' private health insurance company terminated her coverage. Four years later, she found herself $180,000 in debt, and was forced to file for bankruptcy. Sarah was able to complete one semester at Hawkeye Community College, but could not afford to continue. Because of her earlier bankruptcy, every bank she has applied to for student loans turned her down. With the new health law, people like Sarah are able to stay on their parents' health insurance plan until they are 26.

"And consider the case of Eleanor Pierce, also of Cedar Falls, Iowa.  When her job with a local company was eliminated, she lost her health insurance.  She had the option of purchasing COBRA insurance, but it was completely unaffordable. So she searched for coverage on the private, individual market, but was almost universally denied access because of her pre-existing condition of high blood pressure. The only plans that would cover her came with premiums she could never hope to afford without an income.

"So Eleanor - at age 62, suffering from high blood pressure - had no choice but to go without insurance, and hope for the best.  But, Mr. President, "hope for the best" is no substitute for regular medical care.  One year later, Eleanor suffered a massive heart attack.  And, when all was said and done, she had racked up $60,000 in medical debt.

"Mr. President, we need to get beyond ideological obsessions and listen to these ordinary Americans - victims of the old, broken health care system.  Americans have a clear message:  The new law has important new benefits and protections.  Don't take these protections away!

"Nearly half of non-elderly Americans have some type of preexisting condition, like high blood pressure, arthritis or heart disease.  The new law outlaws the denial of coverage based on preexisting conditions.  The McConnell amendment sweeps that away.

"The largest health insurer in California used technicalities to cancel the policies of women who got breast cancer.  The new law outlaws the practice of canceling policies when people get sick. The McConnell amendment fully restores the right of health insurers to return to that despicable practice.

"The new law prohibits insurers from imposing lifetime limits on benefits.  The McConnell amendment takes that away.

"The law allows parents to keep adult children on their policies until age 26.  The McConnell amendment takes that away.

"Mr. President, I want to briefly mention the destructive impacts the McConnell amendment would have on my State of Iowa:

  • It would raise taxes on more than 260,000 Iowans by taking away tax credits to help them purchase health care coverage.
  • More than 8,300 young adults in Iowa would lose their insurance coverage through their parents' health plans.
  • Tens of thousands of Iowa seniors would face significantly higher prescription drug prices, and, once again, would have to pay a co-pay for preventive services such as colonoscopies and mammograms.
  • And, of course, the 1.9 million Iowans with private coverage would, once again, be vulnerable to the whole range of abuses and discriminatory practices by health insurance.

"In addition, Mr. President, I want to mention that the new health reform law dramatically remedies the discrimination against Iowa and some other states in terms of Medicare reimbursement.  Under a complicated Medicare formula, doctors in Iowa and a number of states were paid less for their services than their colleagues elsewhere. Under the formula, for example, Iowa physicians are reimbursed less than doctors in Louisiana.

"As part of the new health reform bill, I joined with Reps. Bruce Braley, Leonard Boswell and Dave Loebsack to negotiate a compromise that provides an immediate $800 million to address geographic disparities for both doctors and hospitals, as well as written guarantees from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for further action to reform Medicare reimbursement rates.  This great achievement is wiped out if the McConnell amendment passes.

"In addition, thanks to the new law, mid-sized hospitals in Iowa - the so-called "tweeners" - will see a greater Medicare reimbursement.  The two-year fix will cover Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012 and will aid low-volume hospitals, some of which have struggled to keep their doors open.  The fix was included in the new health reform law - the Affordable Care Act.

"At the heart of the reform mission was an effort to decrease the number of uninsured and increase access to affordable care.  The law does just that and will ensure every Iowan access to quality healthcare, which these community hospitals.  This, too, goes away if the McConnell amendment prevails.

"Finally, Mr. President, I want to mention the many millions of Americans who will be denied health coverage if the McConnell amendment passes.  The Republicans, apparently, reckon that middle class Americans who already have health insurance don't care about those who are not so fortunate.  I couldn't disagree more strongly!  

"Americans do care about the uninsured.  And they are well aware of the devastating human cost of repeal.  Nearly 45,000 Americans die each year, in part, because they don't have health insurance.

"With this landmark law, we are ensuring - at long last - that every member of our American family has access to quality, affordable health care as a right, not a privilege!

"So mark my words:  The American people are not going to allow the Republicans to take away this great humanitarian achievement.

"Mr. President, I urge my colleagues to oppose the McConnell amendment.  It blows a huge hole in the budget deficit.  It destroys hundreds of thousands of jobs.  It repeals the Patient's Bill of Rights - allowing health insurers to return to the same old abusive and discriminatory practices.  It revokes health insurance coverage for tens of millions of Americans.

"Instead, let us listen to the American people.  

"Let us move forward to build a reformed health care system that works not only for the healthy and the wealthy, but for all Americans."

By Senator Tom Harkin

As many of us are all too aware, America imports and consumes a lot of oil, and that dependence is both costly and a threat to our economy.  While over two-thirds of that imported oil is used to fuel our cars and trucks, many folks don't realize that another 20 percent of that oil is used as raw material to make a variety of products, from paints and solvents to fabrics and plastics, as well as a wide variety of industrial chemicals. But that is starting to change.

Just as Iowa is leading the way to produce biofuels that displace gasoline, enterprising entrepreneurs in our state and across America are beginning to manufacture thousands of materials and products using homegrown agricultural and forestry crops and byproducts known as biobased feedstocks.  The benefits of these products are clear: we are saving money and reducing the need for foreign oil; we're improving and protecting our environment; we're creating new income sources for the farmers who produce these crops; and we're generating American jobs in manufacturing these products.  Biobased products hold especially significant economic opportunities for our rural communities, far too many of which are struggling today.

To help promote these biobased products, USDA recently launched the "Biobased" label to let consumers know when a product is made of these materials.  Starting in the next month, companies can choose to put this label on their qualifying products so consumers will know what percentage of an item is biobased.  This is great news.  Iowans like to know the story behind the products we purchase - in a hardware store we might look for a "Made in the U.S.A." imprint on tool, or buy a new appliance that bears the "EnergyStar" seal of approval.  And soon, by looking for a "USDA biobased" label, we will be able to easily judge a product that is good for the environment, the U.S. economy and jobs, and doesn't rely on foreign oil.

The new "Biobased" label is part of an initiative I successfully worked to enact into law  and is another step in a campaign that began almost 10 years ago. As the former chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, I was proud to establish a biobased product promotion program in 2002.  The program directed the federal government to give a preference to biobased products in its extensive purchasing actions - so long as it made financial sense.  Already, USDA has designated about 5,100 biobased products for preferred purchasing.  And now, consumer demand for products labeled "Biobased" should provide a major boost to develop and market more of these products, starting an expanding cycle of job creation for both biobased feedstock production and product manufacture and sales.

Additionally, to help expand the use of biofuels in place of gasoline, I just introduced legislation aimed at expanding markets for biofuels.  The bill would  increase the number of vehicles that use a blend of ethanol and gasoline, increase the number of pumps at gas stations dispensing this blend and authorize loan guarantees for the construction of renewable fuel pipelines. I am hopeful the Senate will move forward and pass this bill.

All these efforts are helping to develop and produce products that are made from crops and forests products, instead of expensive overseas oil, and I proud that Iowa is leading the way.

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Maximum Annual Award Maintained at $5,500

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today applauded the Department of Education's release of the new Pell Grant schedules as an important step towards improving access to college.  The schedules determine the Federal Pell Grant awards for the 2011-2012 Academic Year - July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012 - for low-income college students.  The maximum Pell Grant award for this year will be $5,550.  As Chairman of the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, Harkin led the effort to fully fund the Pell Grant program in the Continuing Resolution that passed the Senate and was signed into law in December.  Additionally, as Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Harkin worked to eliminate billions of dollars in wasteful subsidies to banks and redirected that money to increase Pell Grants as part of the reconciliation package that was used to provide technical fixes to the health reform bill last March.

"In our efforts to attract and keep good jobs in America - and to stay competitive in the global economy - we must increase the number of students who attend college," said Harkin.  "Currently, there are millions of bright, young people who want to attend school but simply can't because of finances.  That is where the Pell Grant program provides much needed assistance and makes college more affordable for low-income students.  This is a small federal investment that repays itself many times over with a better paid tax base and a more educated work force.

"I am pleased that today the Department of Education has released its schedules so that schools and students can plan accordingly.  This is truly an important step in increasing access to college for all Americans.  Moving forward it is critical that we do all that we can in Congress continue to fund this program that is helping our economy and our future generations."

The Federal Pell Grant Program provides need-based grants to over nine million low-income undergraduate and certain postbaccalaureate students to promote access to postsecondary education.  Students may use their grants at any one of approximately 5,400 participating postsecondary institutions.  Grant amounts are dependent on: the student's expected family contribution; the cost of attendance (as determined by the institution); the student's enrollment status (full-time or part-time); and whether the student attends for a full academic year or less.  To see the full Pell Grant schedule released today click here.

Senate Majority Leader vows to fight discriminatory amendments

 WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights group, today criticized the Iowa House for passing an amendment to the state constitution that would prohibit any form of relationship recognition for same-sex couples. The amendment passed by a 62 to 37 vote and will now be sent to the Iowa Senate for consideration.

"The actions of the Iowa House have the potential to place families at risk," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "The people of Iowa deserve better from their representatives. Iowa has a proud tradition of protecting the liberties of all of its citizens and we call upon the Senate to restore that tradition."

"The proposed amendment devalues families and divides Iowans," said One Iowa Executive Director Carolyn Jenison. "The Constitution is meant to protect the freedoms and liberties of all Iowans. It is inappropriate to use the political process to single out and deny a group of Iowans of their constitutional protections. "

House Joint Resolution 6 proposes an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Iowa specifying marriage between one man and one woman as the only legal union that is valid or recognized in the state. The language prohibits civil unions and domestic partnerships as well as marriage for same-sex couples. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal has vowed to fight any attempt to amend the constitution to discriminate against same-sex couples. In order to end up on the ballot, the proposed amendment must pass through both chambers of the Iowa Legislature in two consecutive legislative sessions.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

 

# # #

Grassley Works to Close Loophole that Allows Terrorists to Stay in U.S.

WASHINGTON - Senator Chuck Grassley today introduced legislation to close a loophole in U.S. visa policy that could allow foreign nationals remain in the United States after they have had their visa revoked.

Since 2001, the Government Accountability Office has repeatedly sounded the alarm about the weaknesses of the visa revocation process.  Their investigations revealed the extreme difficulty the United States has in deporting suspected terrorists already on U.S. soil if their visa is revoked on terrorism grounds.

"Current law handicaps our law enforcement and makes it nearly impossible to deport a potential terrorist if they are already in the United States," Grassley said.  "We shouldn't allow suspected terrorists to take advantage of our court system and exploit our laws.  Revocations can be a useful anti-terrorism tool that can better project the security of our borders and our nation."

Grassley said that a change in law is needed so that people who wish to do Americans harm are deported, and our nation's intelligence is protected.

If the federal government determines that a visa must be revoked for an individual already on U.S. soil, such individual could be allowed to block deportation using the United States court system.

The bill would treat visa revocations similar to visa denials because the right of that person to be in the United States is no longer valid.  If an individual is denied a visa by the consular officer, there's no judicial review of that decision.  The Grassley bill applies the same standard for individuals on U.S. soil who should not have been granted a visa, limiting their rights to judicial review of such a decision.

The legislation is cosponsored by Senators David Vitter of Louisiana, Orrin Hatch of Utah, John Cornyn of Texas, Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Pat Roberts of Kansas. 

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SPRINGFIELD, IL - 02/01/2011

The Illinois National Guard has made it a priority to help servicemembers when they return from a mobilization or deployment. While the Illinois National Guard continues to reach out to returning veterans with the "Tying the Yellow Ribbon" campaign, the program also focuses on families of troops who are deployed.

The Illinois Army National Guard will conduct four Reintegration Family Academies in February and March.

Although the free academy is open to any family that has a deployed servicemember in any branch of the military, the focus of these events is to reach out to families of Illinois National Guard members that have deployed or who are currently deployed. Approximately 1,000 members of the Illinois National Guard are deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq and Egypt.

The intent of the academy is to ensure families receive information and know the resources available to them while their Soldier is deployed.

"Reintegration is not just a program for Soldiers after a deployment. It's something his or her entire family must also undergo as everyone readjusts to changes that have happened during the course of the Soldier's deployment," said 2nd Lt. Justin Anweiler of Lincoln, reintegration program coordinator. "This is one way the Illinois National Guard is trying to help families of our deployed men and women who are sometimes fighting their own battles at home while their servicemember is fighting a war overseas."

Representatives from several different agencies will be available for family members. Some agencies attending include TRICARE (medical and dental insurance), Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, Internal Revenue Service and Veteran's Health Administration. There will also be several workshops for families to attend providing guidance and information on issues like marriage after deployment, finances, challenges troops face reuniting with their children and using college education benefits. Counselors will also be available for private consultations.

Illinois National Guard Family Academies

Date Location Time

February 5 Blackhawk Community College; 6600 34th Ave., Moline 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. (POSTPONED)

February 27 Kaskaskia College; 2310 W. Fillmore, Vandalia 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.

March 12 Blackhawk Community College; 26230 Black Hawk Road, Galva 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.

March 13 Devry University; 18624 West Creek Drive, Tinley Park 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.

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www.facebook.com/illinoisnationalguard

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GALENA, Ill. - Coming off of an extremely successful 2010, with the Grand Tasting selling out three weeks prior to the event date, the Galena Wine Lovers' Weekend committee announces that they've added a second Grand Tasting to the wine-focused weekend, allowing even more opportunity and flexibility to attend.

"We are thrilled to offer an additional Grand Tasting on Saturday afternoon as well as Friday evening," said event sponsor Tim Althaus, owner, Family Beer & Liquor. "Over the past six years, this event has continued to grow to be one of the largest indoor wine tasting events in the state. Offering two Grand Tastings allows for even more people to enjoy this great opportunity."

At the heart of Galena Wine Lovers' Weekend, the Grand Tasting and Wine Auction offers epicureans of all levels more than 300 varieties of hand-picked wines and spirits from which to sample. The Grand Tasting will be held at two different times this year: Friday, March 25 from 6-8 p.m. (registration begins at 5:30 p.m.) and on Saturday, March 26 from 4-6 p.m. (registration begins at 3:30 p.m.). Both events are hosted at the Galena Convention Center, 900 Galena Square Drive, Galena, Illinois.

Cost is $30 in advance (purchase online: www.wineloversweekend.com) or $35 at the door (subject to availability). Admission also provides you with a keepsake wine glass and an opportunity to win a wine-themed trip to San Francisco. Additional trip chances may be purchased for $15 each. Auction items include vintage wines, artwork, large format wine bottles and related items of interest.

Now in its sixth year running, Galena Wine Lovers' Weekend is a community-wide celebration of good wine, good food and good friends. Wine lovers of all sorts are invited to enjoy three event-filled days of fine wine, culinary delight, celebrity chefs, wine makers, pampering packages and all of the stops Galena can possibly pull out.

Galena Wine Lovers' Weekend is a spirited way to warm the winter and add romance, whether it is for vino, gourmet cuisine or the history and charm all on its own. Wine-inspired dinners, spirit tastings, spa experiences, history tours, cooking demonstrations and shopping welcome and enchant visitors.

Lodging specials and package deals fuel the passion. From dining packages to pampering in luxurious accommodations and the warmest of hospitality, Galena's finest provide a variety of options to cater to every taste and budget.

Visit www.wineloversweekend.com for a detailed listing of extended-weekend activities, links to lodging, and an opportunity to purchase tickets online. Additional area offerings may be found with the Galena/Jo Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau at www.galena.org.

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