ROCK ISLAND, ILL., (10/19/2010)(readMedia)-- Officials from six National Guard states in the Midwest region including the Illinois Army National Guard, sent command representatives to Rock Island Arsenal Garrison Oct. 18 to speak with cadre about their injured soldiers in Community Based Warrior Transition Unit (CBWTU) rehabilitation program.

The program has existed for roughly four years on the nation's largest government-operated arsenal helping injured veterans from Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The program helps rehabilitate Soldiers both mentally and physically and helps transition them back into their normal lives.

The states' National Guard commands work together with the CBWTU, medical facilities and civilian vocational rehabilitation agencies to help Soldiers seek medical attention and find work in the civilian sector.

Soldiers attend one muster every three months at Rock Island Arsenal, but can seek medical treatment in their hometowns instead of being away from family and other support at an active duty hospital in another state.

"In today's Army, the care and medical needs of our injured veterans is paramount," said Celletti. "These men and women went into harm's way while serving their country and they cannot be forgotten and left to struggle to make ends meet in their times of need," Maj. Gen. Dennis Celletti of Springfield, the Assistant Adjutant General - Army of the Illinois National Guard.

Staff Sgt. J.P. Lawson of Marseilles, a platoon sergeant with the CBWTU said the program allows for injured Soldiers to receive the one-on-one care they may not have received at active-duty hospitals after suffering injuries in a combat zone. The facility at Rock Island Arsenal is centralized allowing Soldiers to receive medical attention and take care of personal matters.

"The program is based mainly on getting Soldiers in and getting them to look at their overall care, not just physical but mental," said Lawson. "(The program) is also to help them transition either to a civilian life as they retire out of the military or ... they are actually returning to duty, getting ready for their life outside the war."

Lawson, an Illinois Army Guardsmen now attached to the CBWTP, attended the program in 2007 after returning home injured from deployment to Afghanistan. After going through the program Lawson returned as a cadre member to help fellow Soldiers receive the care they need. As a platoon sergeant, he said he has seen roughly a 90-percent success rate in the Soldiers from his platoon.

Lawson said he has seen Soldiers with all types of injuries in the program. From blindness to broken limbs.

Not all Soldiers going through the transition program have obvious injuries. Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Eric Wolf of Jessup, Iowa, with the 445th Transportation Company out of Waterloo, Iowa suffered multiple noncombat related injuries while deployed to Iraq in 2009.

When he originally came home his treatments were at an active-duty station. With family hundreds of miles away Wolf dealt with mental stress.

Since being assigned to the CBWTU, Wolf has been able to get the medical attention he needs to lead a normal life. With the ability to stay in Jessup between musters, Wolf said he is able to spend time with his family and be present in their lives.

"With this program it allows you to get back your family and your family too does not have to go any longer without you," said Wolf. "When you have a wife taking care of four children and she's already done it through a deployment, it's stress on her too for you to get back. There it's really imperative that you two join back together and support each other."

With medical attention in their hometowns, Soldiers like Wolf are able to receive treatment from their local doctors, family doctors and medical facilities in a place they are comfortable instead of miles away from home.

Wolf said being with his family even during his treatments made his mental and emotional state easier. While Wolf's time with the program is not complete, he said with the treatment and vocational support he has received he has been able to heal both mentally and physically and he is ready to face life and the road to come.

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Allegiant Air's ticket counter hours have changed now that they are operating their flights to Las Vegas.

Tickets will be sold 1 hour after their Las Vegas departure, from 8:45 p.m. - 9:45 p.m., at the Allegiant Air/Charter Counter on the public side of the airport terminal.

Allegiant Air currently offers nonstop flights to Las Vegas on both Thursdays & Sundays. Those flights began last week. Nonstop flights to Phoenix-Mesa will begin on Thursday, November 18th and will also operate with an arrival and a departure on Thursdays & Sundays.

Black Hawk Chamber Music Festival

10th-Anniversary Celebration

~  in Davenport on October 21, 22 and 24 at Trinity Cathedral  ~

Tickets and Information:

www.brownpapertickets.com

www.BHCMF.org

The Achieve Quad Cities, "Career Navigators" mentor program is being highlighted with a news conference at Washington Junior School in Rock Island this Thursday, October 21, 2010 at 2:45 pm as part of the annual Lights ON Afterschool Day Celebration.  The program is led by United Way and the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend and includes the, Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Rock Island School District and the Rock Island Regional Office of Education.

The year-long program is being offered to 70 middle/junior high school students in the Quad Cities and is designed to assist in increasing graduation rates and reduce high school dropouts by pairing students with adult "career navigators" or mentors.

The navigators at Washington Junior School are from various local businesses who have agreed to serve as resources and guides over the next 12 months during after school hours.  The career navigators will help the students expand their interests and help them make tough decisions about high school classes and career goals.  They will meet twice a month and will include site visits to work sites, local community colleges, museums and media outlets.

Officials with Achieve Quad Cities, Big Brother Big Sisters, educators and a previous mentor will be available at the news conference which is being held on National "Lights On Afterschool" day.  Thursday, October 21st is a day designated to recognize the importance of after school programs.  The news conference in Rock Island is one of 7,500 events planned around the country to celebrate the 11th annual Lights On Afterschool day.  More than one million American are expected to rally for afterschool programs during this day.

WHAT:  News conference about the Achieve Quad Cities Career Navigators Program
WHERE:  Washington Junior School, 3300 18th Avenue, Rock Island
WHEN:  Thursday, October 21, 2010 at 2:45 pm
WHO:  Officials with United Way, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Achieve Quad Cities, The Rock Island Regional Office of Education, The Rock Island School District  and the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend.

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Des Moines, Iowa- Soldiers of the 387th Human Resources Co. (HR Co.), which consists of approximately 30 Army Reserve soldiers from many parts of the Midwest, returned from deployment on October 16th 2010.

The mission of the 387th HR Co., based out of Wichita, Kans., was to manage Human Resources and Postal Services for Camp Liberty in Iraq.  A casualty liaison team from the 387th HR Co.'s detachment in Fort Dodge, Iowa also deployed with the unit. This was the unit's first deployment.

A Welcome Home Warrior Citizen Award will be scheduled in the future to honor the soldiers of the 387th HR Co.

A Welcome Home Warrior Ceremony publically acknowledges our Army Reserve Soldiers for their selfless-service and sacrifice in support of contingency operations.   The soldiers have been released from duty to travel home to their families.  For additional information, please contact the 103rd ESC Public Affairs Office.

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Immanuel Lutheran Church is having their 2nd Annual "Treats in the Trunk" on Saturday, October 30th from 5 - 7 p.m. in the Church Parking Lot. Children & Families are welcome to come; walk our parking lot by the Picnic Shelter; getting candy & treats from our members. Haywagon rides will be offered and Concessions sold by the Youth Group. (Hot dogs, Popcorn, Nachos, and Chili). There will be free coffee and hot chocolate available to everyone!

This Event is open to the public, and all are welcome to join us. For more information please contact the church office at 563-324-6431.  Immanuel Lutheran is located at 3834 Rockingham Road, Davenport.

New Advisory Panel will Address Disparities in Breast Cancer Rates

CHICAGO - October 18, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today announced a new initiative to fight breast cancer that will improve access to mammograms and treatment. The effort will be overseen by a new advisory panel charged with raising the quality of care for all women, focusing specifically on strategies to reduce the racial disparity in breast cancer mortality.

"Breast cancer is a deadly disease that affects women across Illinois," said Governor Quinn. "We are doing everything we can to make sure more women have access to lifesaving screenings and treatments. The Breast Cancer Quality Screening and Treatment Board consists of highly-qualified medical experts and health care advocates who will work hard to fight this disease."

The members of the newly formed Breast Cancer Quality Screening and Treatment Board include :

  • Dr. David Ansell, Vice President for Clinical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer for Rush University Medical Center and Associate Provost for Medical Affairs, Rush University.
  • Dr. Bechara Choucair, Commissioner, Chicago Department of Public Health
  • Sister Sheila Lyne, CEO and President, Mercy Hospital
  • Eileen Knightly, Director, Mercy Hospital Breast Care Center
  • Anne Marie Murphy, Executive Director, Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force
  • Dr. Pamela Ganschow, Director, John H. Stroger Hospital of Cook County Breast & Cervical Cancer Screening Program
  • Dr. Elizabeth Marcus, Chair, John H. Stroger Hospital of Cook County Division of Breast Oncology
  • Stephani Huston Cox, Director of Patient Services, Planned Parenthood Springfield Area
  • Linda Maricle, Executive Director, Susan G. Komen for the Cure Peoria
  • Donna Thompson, Chief Executive Officer, Access Community Health Network
  • Elizabeth S.A. Patton, Administrator, East Side Health District
  • Salim Al Nurridin, Chief Executive Officer, Healthcare Consortium of Illinois
  • Vicki Vaughn, Director, St. Mary's Hospital

The mission of the Breast Cancer Quality Screening and Treatment Board is to work with the Medicaid Program and IBCCP to identify gaps in screening and diagnostic mammogram services throughout the state; expand the use of digital mammography; recommend common quality standards; identify best practices for effective outreach to reduce racial disparities; and monitor the pilot projects.

The new initiative is a joint project by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). It will include an increase in the Medicaid reimbursement rate beginning in 2011 for screening providers who commit to high-quality service and data sharing on detection rates with the Chicago Breast Cancer Quality Consortium. Medicaid spending for the program will qualify for federal matching funds.

"I am very glad to be working with Governor Quinn, our partners at IDPH and our board of experts to improve access to-and the quality of-breast cancer screening and treatment for women throughout our state," said HFS Director Julie Hamos.

The initiative will include three new pilot projects to assist women who have breast cancer and are being treated through either the Medicaid Program for low-income women or the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP), which provides free breast and cervical cancer screenings and services to uninsured eligible women in Illinois. The pilot projects will test different approaches to best assist these women in navigating the complex system of breast cancer health care and treatment.

"Early detection can help save lives, and mammography remains the most effective means available to detect cancer in its earliest stages," said IDPH Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold. "We look forward to working with the new board to help ensure all women have access to quality mammography and other breast cancer services."

As part of the initiative, the state will ramp up its educational outreach programs about early detection and treatment of breast cancer. Women over the age of 40 will be informed of access to free annual mammograms - whether they are enrolled in Medicaid or Medicare, have private insurance coverage or are uninsured. Under the new federal Affordable Care Act all new and renewed private health insurance policies will offer free annual mammograms.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

WASHINGTON - Senator Chuck Grassley is continuing his effort to protect Medicare and Medicaid dollars, this time by demanding greater transparency from program officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), regarding possible waste, fraud and abuse of program resources by outside contractors.

In a follow up inquiry to CMS Administrator Donald Berwick, Grassley said the agency should release data about how much the agency is paying contractors to identify and investigate potential fraud, waste and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and stop working to find excuses why the information about how public dollars are used should be kept secret.

"Government officials are stewards of tax dollars and they have a responsibility to be transparent and forthright about decisions and actions involving public money," Grassley said.  "That stewardship includes holding contractors accountable if they fail to deliver.  And, in this case like most others, transparency can help establish accountability."

Click here to read Grassley's letter October 15 letter to CMS Administrator Donald Berwick.

Click here to read Grassley's October 6 press release regarding the initial letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and CMS Administrator Donald Berwick seeking accountability.

 

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Former FBI Agent and President of the Chicago Crime Commission Will Help Enhance Transparency, Ensure Toll Dollars Are Spent Wisely

DOWNERS GROVE, IL - Governor Pat Quinn today announced the appointment of James W. Wagner as the first-ever Illinois Tollway Inspector General. Last July, the Governor signed Senate Bill 3118 to create a new Office of the Illinois Tollway Inspector General to oversee operations and investigate ethics violations not covered in the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act.

"The creation of this new office has set the standard for how all government agencies should approach internal oversight," said Governor Pat Quinn. "Jim Wagner is the right person for this important position and we're lucky to have him on board."

Mr. Wagner will investigate claims of wrongdoing or mismanagement in the day-to-day operations of the Illinois Tollway, including those involving fraud, waste, abuse and misconduct. He will also work to ensure that toll dollars are spent appropriately.

"Increasing transparency has been one of my top priorities since I started at the Tollway last April," said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur. "The appointment of Jim Wagner is just another example of how serious we are about being 100 percent accountable to our customers and the public we serve."

Mr. Wagner will serve a five-year term and have jurisdiction over the agency's officers, employees, vendors and others doing business with the Tollway. Additionally, Wagner will have subpoena power and submit bi-annual reports to the Governor, General Assembly and Tollway Board of Directors.

Before joining the Tollway, Mr. Wagner served as President of the Chicago Crime Commission and Deputy Administrator of Investigations for the Illinois Gaming Board. Prior to those positions, Wagner worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation for more than 30 years, serving as Special Agent and Supervisor and Program Coordinator for the Organized Crime Section.

Mr. Wagner has been serving as the Tollway's General Manager of Investigations and Audit since January 2010. He will continue to serve in that position until his appointment and the law creating the Office of the Illinois Tollway Inspector General become effective on January 1, 2011.

At Governor Quinn's direction, the Illinois Tollway has made strides to increase transparency and accountability, promote green and sustainable operations and contribute to the state's efforts to create jobs and foster economic growth in Northern Illinois.

"The Board of Directors is pleased to have such a strong leadership team in place at the Tollway.  We are also grateful to Senators Garrett and Schoenberg and other legislators who supported the creation of this office," said Illinois Tollway Board Chair Paula Wolff. "With Jim's able assistance, we will work to restore public confidence in the agency and meet the challenge Governor Quinn laid out for the Tollway?to be 'squeaky clean'."

About the Illinois Tollway

The Illinois Tollway is a user-fee system that receives no state or federal funds for maintenance and operations. The agency maintains and operates 286 miles of interstate tollways in 12 counties in Northern Illinois, including the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88), the Veterans Memorial Tollway (I-355), the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) and the Tri-State Tollway (I-94/I-294/I-80).

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Sign Language Play

On October 28, 29 and 30 at 7:30 PM, Moline High School Theatre will be performing a remarkable play by Suzan Zeder, entitled "The Taste of Sunrise." The following weekend, Rock Island High School will be performing the sequel to the play, "Mother Hicks."  So?as both our plays contain themes about creating community?our lives will imitate art as we find community between our two schools.

As if this collaboration wasn't enough?Suzan Zeder?one of America's leading playwrights in Theatre for Young Audiences---has decided to attend the opening night performance of Taste of Sunrise.  She said that our story has captured her heart.  She will be doing workshops with the students and also host a staged reading of the third play in this trilogy, title, The Edge of Peace.
When Suzan Zeder wrote Mother Hicks, she includes a scene with an adult Tuc, who is deaf.  He says, "You see all the things I cannot do because I am deaf.  But you don't see that which I can do.  I can sing with rivers.  I can see the sharp sting of honey and I can taste the sunrise."

The moment these words flew off her fingertips into the page, she knew Tuc needed his own story.  This is it.

Politically, Tuc's story examines the hardships experienced by deaf people before the use of sign language was widely accepted. Socially, the play explores what it means to be an outcast.  Three of the leading characters all become outcasts in some way?a deaf boy, an African American female living on her own, and a teenage mom who doesn't know where she fits in.  The leading role of Tuc is played by Max Molina, who is part of Moline's Wilson Junior High School's hearing-impaired program.  His friend Maizie, played by Jenna Pautsch, is hearing but has deaf parents, so she is part of both the hearing and deaf worlds.

Audiences will find it remarkable to know that the entire cast learned sign language just for this production.  They spent their entire summer taking hour-long ASL (American Sign Language) classes at MHS twice weekly in preparation for this play, which will be completely bilingual -- both spoken and signed.  As the play unfolds, "shadow" characters will tell the story with words and signs. This is a powerful play, and it will be an unforgettable experience for all who see it.

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