Iowa Marine died from wounds suffered by an IED explosion in Afghanistan 

 

Washington, DC - Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) released the following statement today after learning that Marine Cpl. Christopher Zachary Reiff, a native of Preston, Iowa, died as a result of injuries suffered from an IED explosion while on patrol in Afghanistan:

"My thoughts and prayers are with the Reiff family.  Words seem so inadequate at times like these, but I am grateful for Corporal Reiff's service.  He made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of the country he loved.  I urge Iowans to keep the Reiff family in their thoughts this Thanksgiving."

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Honors La Grange Military Hero

CHICAGO - November 19, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today proclaimed Lance Corporal Joshua Misiewicz Day in Illinois, in recognition of Lance Corporal Misiewicz's exemplary service in the United States Marine Corps.

Lance Corporal Misiewicz, a 23-year-old La Grange resident, deployed to Afghanistan as a member of the 1st Batallion, 5th Marine Regiment in March 2011. While on patrol in the Helmund Province on July 20, 2011, Lance Corporal Misiewicz stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) and sustained extensive injuries. Lance Corporal Misiewicz was later awarded the Purple Heart by Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos for injuries sustained during battle.

A copy of Governor Quinn's proclamation is attached.

WHEREAS, all citizens owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces who heroically serve to defend the freedom and safety of all Americans; and,

WHEREAS, by answering the call of duty during times of peace and war, these heroic service men and women have demonstrated a profound love for the people of this country and a steadfast commitment to the freedom that unites us; and,

WHEREAS, the United States and the State of Illinois are blessed by the 1.5 million men and women who have answered that call to serve our nation with courage and integrity; and,

WHEREAS, these members of our military are true heroes; and,

WHEREAS, since June 2011, more than 100,000 American heroes remain deployed in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom; and,

WHEREAS, one such hero was 23-year-old La Grange native and United States Marine Corps Lance Corporal Joshua Misiewicz; and,

WHEREAS, prior to pursuing his dream of enlisting in the Marines, Lance Corporal Misiewicz spent a lifetime representing his community in the highest esteem?as a member of the St. Xavier Parish, as an all-state all-star hockey player, as a 2006 honors graduate of Lyons Township High School, as a student athlete and associates' degree recipient from St. Mary's University of Minnesota in Winona; and,

WHEREAS, Lance Corporal Misiewicz deployed to Afghanistan as a member of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment in March 2011; and,

WHEREAS, A Department of Defense photo of Lance Corporal Misiewicz giving high-five to an Afghan child in April 2011 became an image seen around the globe as a demonstration of the American goodwill toward the people of Afghanistan; and,

WHEREAS, Lance Corporal Misiewicz, while on patrol in the Helmund Province on July 20, 2011, stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) and sustained extensive injuries; and,

WHEREAS, Lance Corporal Misiewicz has undergone more than two dozen surgeries and will continue to receive treatment at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD; and,

WHEREAS Lance Corporal Misiewicz has fought successfully against all odds; and,

WHEREAS, Lance Corporal Misiewicz, was awarded the Purple Heart by Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos for injuries sustained during battle; and,

WHEREAS, Lance Corporal Misiewicz has now accepted a new mission, spending much of his time with the support of his family and fellow Marines following the road to recovery en route to the future;

THEREFORE, I, Pat Quinn, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby proclaim November 19, 2011 as LANCE CORPORAL JOSHUA MISIEWICZ DAY in Illinois, in recognition of Lance Corporal Misiewicz's service and sacrifice, and encourage all citizens to express their respect and gratitude for our nation's troops by supporting them in whatever way possible.

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GREENVIEW, IL (11/17/2011)(readMedia)-- Hovering 90 feet in the air. Dangling from a Blackhawk helicopter and rappelling to land with a rope as the wind whistles through your hair. This is an experience many who put on a U.S. Army uniform dream of, but few experience. Until recently, most of those opportunities were reserved for active duty Army personnel. Through a new program, Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers are getting a unique opportunity to attend Air Assault School.

The program allows distinguished honor graduates from initial entry training (IET) to attend Air Assault School.

"Soldiers must graduate from IET as a distinguished honor graduate or honor graduate with a physical fitness test score of 280 or above," said Sgt.1st Class Angela Cooper of Hartsburg, Acting Training Seat Quota Manager. "Soldiers meeting the criteria must submit applications within 90 days after graduating from IET."

Since October 2010, nine Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers qualified for the program, but only one Soldier has graduated from Air Assault School.

On January 14, 2011 Spc Jeremy Doggett of Greenview, a member of the Illinois Army National Guard's Troop A, 2nd Squadron, 106th Cavalry Regiment, in Pontiac graduated from Air Assault School at Fort Benning, Ga. Doggett excelled during IET, becoming a distinguished honor graduate and receiving the Draper Leadership Award, which is designed for upcoming leaders in armor and cavalry units. His extraordinary accomplishment led to the creation of the new program allowing Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers the option to attend Air Assault School.

"Soldiers have to meet high standards to go to air assault training," said Master Sgt. Marshall

Peterson of Tallula, with the training division at Camp Lincoln in Springfield. "Prerequisites include a commander's recommendation and successful completion of a 12-mile road march with 35 pounds of equipment in three hours. We want smart, strong Soldiers with the strength and mental toughness to rappel out of a helicopter and complete the training."

Air Assault School is a 10-day course with a "Zero Day" that consists of a physical fitness test and an obstacle course. The obstacle course is designed to assess a student's upper body strength, agility, endurance, confidence and ability to perform at heights without displaying fear or distress. This test is critical in determining if a Soldier will be able to complete Air Assault School without becoming a safety risk during the demanding training events conducted during the course.

"The obstacle course consists of nine separate obstacles that you must overcome," said Doggett. "Two of the obstacles must be completed receiving a first time 'go.' You cannot receive more than one 'no go' on each of the remaining seven obstacles or you will fail."

Air Assault School is typically recognized as more challenging than Airborne School due to the additional academic portions of the course coupled with the physical challenges. Safety is paramount during all training and failure to meet the rigorous standards results in an immediate discharge from the course."

Air Assault School has three distinct phases, with each phase having a written test. Soldiers learn up to 17 hand and arm signals used during sling-load operations. There is a three-day phase focused on planning and preparation for sling-load operations, capabilities, characteristics and use of sling loading equipment. Soldiers eventually learn to rappel from a hovering helicopter.

"Between the first and second day we did a six-mile ruck march and it was nasty out and that's when my uniform including boots were soaked, said Spc Doggett. "During the ruck my socks were drenched and fell down creating friction....and both of my boots were saturated in blood. The bad part was I knew I had another ruck to complete, but no pain, no gain."

Many Soldiers are cut throughout the course for various infractions in standards. One example is air assault Soldiers are required to shout "air assault" every time their left foot hits the ground and Soldiers never walk during training.

The final day starts at 1 a.m. when Soldiers wake up and conduct a 12-mile ruck march within three hours.

"It was January and there was a rain snow mix, so conditions were not ideal," said Doggett. "I think the Air Assault School is a great course that improves attention to detail and leadership skill. The training sets you apart from your peers. It really toughened me up and made me the person I am today. Upon graduation I was coined by State Command Sgt. Maj. John Starbody. "

Doggett said having this course under his belt helped him move forward to his next path in the military. Since graduation, he has been attached to the Illinois National Guard's Recruiting and Retention Command in Springfield traveling throughout the state as a member of the mobile event team and was recently selected to attend flight school at Fort Rucker this coming year.

More Soldiers are slotted to attend Air Assault School and further funding is available for fiscal year 2012. Details of the new program can be found in Illinois Army National Guard Operations and Training Message 11-006.

Photo 1: Photo courtesy of Spc. Jeremy Doggett/ Through a new program, Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers are getting a unique opportunity to attend Air Assault School. "Between the first and second day we did a six-mile ruck march and it was nasty out and that's when my uniform including boots were soaked, said Spc. Jeremy Doggett of Greenview. "During the ruck my socks were drenched and fell down creating friction....and both of my boots were saturated in blood. The bad part was I knew I had another ruck to complete, but no pain, no gain."

Photo 2: Army photo by Sgt. Jason A. Bushong/ A servicemember rappels from the tower with a combat load during Day 8 of Air Assault School on Camp Smith, N.Y., July 28.

Photo 3: Photo courtesy of 55th Combat Camera/ Air Assault students rappel from a UH-60 Blackhawk as part of their graduation from Phase 3 at Camp Smith, N.Y., on July 29.

For high resolution photos, please contact the Illinois National Guard Public Affairs Office at ngilstaffpao@ng.army.mil

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Paying tribute to America's veterans, Presidential hopeful Herman Cain teams up with highly decorated Colonel Michael Steele to offer a powerful and moving message to the men, women, and families of our armed services.

Colonel Steele was the company commander of the Third Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment, during Operation Gothic Serpent, the basis for the book and subsequent movie, "Blackhawk Down."

Veterans Day is celebrated on November 11th, the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I, formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

From the Berlin Wall to Mogadishu to Iraq, Colonel Steele has served his country well, and Herman Cain is honored to have a friendship with a man so respected and decorated as the Colonel. Please join us in honoring our proud and heroic Veterans on this and every day.

Thank-you and God bless all our servicemen and women, and God bless America.

You can see the video on the Herman Cain YouTube channel.

Photograph of Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Jane Holl Lute, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp (right) and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Michael Leavitt (left) take part in a Coast Guard Veteran's Day wreath laying ceremony at the Coast Guard Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery Nov. 11, 2011.

ARLINGTON, Va., - Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Jane Holl Lute, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp (right) and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Michael Leavitt (left) take part in a Coast Guard Veteran's Day wreath laying ceremony at the Coast Guard Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery Nov. 11, 2011. All three spoke about the importance of the day and thanked veterans for their service. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

 

Photograph of Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Jane Holl Lute, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp (right) and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Michael Leavitt (left) take part in a Coast Guard Veteran's Day wreath laying ceremony at the Coast Guard Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery Nov. 11, 2011.

ARLINGTON, Va., - Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Jane Holl Lute, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp (right) and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Michael Leavitt (left) take part in a Coast Guard Veteran's Day wreath laying ceremony at the Coast Guard Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery Nov. 11, 2011. All three spoke about the importance of the day and thanked veterans for their service. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

 

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Coast Guard honored veterans of the service during a wreath-laying ceremony Friday held at the Coast Guard World War I Memorial,  Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va.

Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, Jane Holl Lute, joined Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Michael Leavitt in the Veterans Day, wreath-laying ceremony.  The Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard and the Coast Guard Ceremonial Band also participated in the event.

"The Department of Homeland Security is fortunate to have the brave men and women of the United States Coast Guard protecting our coastline and maritime interests around the world," said Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Jane Holl Lute. "They carry on the great tradition of those who have served in defense of our freedom. As a former member of the U.S. Army, it is an honor to remember the Coast Guardsmen who lost their lives in World War I, and to recognize the service and sacrifice of all of our Veterans."

"Our Nation has always had absolute confidence in, [the fact] that our citizens will step forward during our greatest hour of need, to selflessly defend our freedoms, and when necessary, to lay their lives on the altar of patriotism," said Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp. "This willingness embodies the essence of service...and what it truly means to be called a veteran."

The Coast Guard monument at Arlington National Cemetery was dedicated May 23, 1928 as a tribute to the Coast Guardsmen who lost their lives in World War I. The monument is inscribed with the names of Coast Guardsmen who were killed during the war. The southeast side is dedicated to the Coast Guard Cutter Tampa, sunk by an enemy submarine in Bristol Channel Sept. 26, 1918. The northwest side is dedicated to the Coast Guard Cutter Seneca, which lost 11 Coast Guardsmen while salvaging the torpedoed British Steamer Wellington in the Bay of Biscay Sept. 17, 1918. The architect was George Howe and the sculptor was Gaston Lachaise.

Six cutters were sent to Europe for convoy duty while smaller cutters patrolled the U.S. Coast Guard during World War 1. Coast Guardsmen were also integrated into Navy commands and Coast Guard officers commanded several Navy air stations and ships.

Attends Memorial Ceremonies in Chicago, Rock Island and Marseilles

CHICAGO - November 11, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn celebrated Veterans Day by honoring Illinois Veterans and servicemembers at four memorial ceremonies across the state. Governor Quinn unveiled the Portrait of Soldier Memorial exhibit at Loyola University's Water Tower Campus and in Moline. He also attended the City of Chicago Veterans Day event and the dedication of the Fallen Soldiers Tree Memorial at Illini State Park in Marsellies.

"Today we honor the servicemen and servicewomen who have selflessly given their all to protect this country," Governor Quinn said. "On behalf of the state of Illinois, I salute and thank all of those courageous and heroic individuals who were willing to risk everything to protect our democracy."

The Portrait of a Soldier Memorial exhibit in Chicago, which has been viewed by thousands of people throughout Illinois, is a series of hand-drawn portraits of more than 250 Illinois men and women who have died in service to our country since Sept. 11, 2001. Governor Quinn founded the display to honor Veterans in 2004, when artist Cameron Schilling of Mattoon drew the first portrait of a soldier in August of that year, after Army Spc. Charles Neeley, also of Mattoon, was killed in Iraq. Schilling presented the portrait to Spc. Neely's parents. In Oct. 2005, while a student at Eastern Illinois University, Schilling committed to draw a portrait of every Illinois servicemember who has fallen during the Global War on Terror.

Also in Chicago, Governor Quinn attended a ceremony at Soldier Field to honor Veterans from all branches of the Armed Forces. The event included performances by the 85th Army Band and the U.S. Naval Academy Gospel Choir, and culminated with the placing of a wreath at the Doughboy statue, a 21-gun salute and Taps.

Governor Quinn also visited the Fallen Soldier Tree Memorial at Illini State Park. The tree memorial is dedicated to the men and women from Illinois who have died in Afghanistan or Iraq and spans two and a half acres. There are more than 200 oak trees planted for each Illinois servicemember who lost their life. This living memorial, where fallen US Armed Forces personnel can be honored in a peaceful, serene environment, was spearheaded by Illinois Department of Transportation's Sustainable Practices Manager, Steve Massey.

"Under Governor Quinn's leadership, Illinois will continue to be a state that honors and protects those courageous men and women who serve our country," said Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs Director Erica Borggren.

Governor Quinn has a long history and continued dedication to supporting US Veterans. When Governor Quinn served as Illinois State Treasurer, he launched "Operation Homefront" during the Gulf War as a means to inform National Guard members and reservists about their rights under the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act. "Operation Homefront" has currently expanded to assist servicemembers and Veterans from all branches of the military.

Throughout his life, Governor Quinn has led a number of programs that benefit Illinois' Veterans servicemembers and their families. Just this year:

•       In August, Governor Quinn signed legislation to expand Illinois' Let Them Rest in Peace Act. The new law prohibits protests within 300 feet of a funeral site and ensures that no protest can take place within 30 minutes before and after a funeral or memorial service; and

•       In October, Governor Quinn and the Illinois Department of Employment security announced a series of job fairs across the state to help put Veterans back to work. These job fairs took place in October and November, during the week leading up to Veterans Day Weekend.

•       In July, Governor Quinn signed three bills to provide more protections for Illinois' servicemembers and help injured Veterans get the services they need. These bills prevent Illinois utilities from cutting off heat to Veterans and servicemembers during the winter months; extend the driver's license renewal time for servicemembers returning from overseas or out-of state; and create a fund to support public service announcements to increase awareness of Veterans' programs;

For more information about programs for our Veterans, visit www.operationhomefront.org or call the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs at 217-782-6641 or 312-814-2460.

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Senate unanimously passed bill yesterday that includes similar provisions to Braley bill to increase veteran hiring

Washington, DC - After the US Senate unanimously passed the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warriors Tax Credit yesterday, Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) used Veterans Day today to urge House leadership to take up the bill immediately and send it to the president's desk.  The legislation includes language similar to the Combat Veterans Back to Work Act, a bill Braley introduced in August.

"Our service men and women put their lives on the line for our country," Braley said.  "They shouldn't have to fight for a job when they come home.  Unemployment among returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is three times the national average.  That's unacceptable.

"This bill will increase the hiring of veterans, improve resources for vets to translate their military skills into the civilian workforce, and provide veterans with new tools to help their search for a job.  I urge Congress to act immediately to pass the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warriors Tax Credit, because our veterans can't afford to wait."

In August, Braley introduced the Combat Veterans Back to Work Act, a bill which exempts a business from paying their share of an employee's Social Security taxes for one year when they hire a current member of the National Guard or Reserve or any veteran who has returned from deployment within the last 18 months and is currently unemployed.

The Returning Heroes and Wounded Warriors Tax Credit includes similar provisions.  The American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars have all endorsed the bill.

Braley is the highest ranking Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity.

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Volunteers honor legacy of Dubuque veteran by "paying it forward" to Veterans' Freedom Center

 

Dubuque, IA - At 8:30 this morning, just two days before Veterans Day, dozens of volunteers from across the tri-state area gathered to put up drywall, paint, and help renovate the new home of the Dubuque Veterans' Freedom Center during the first-ever Andrew Connolly Day of Service.

The day of service honors the legacy of the late Andrew Connolly, a Dubuque native and Iowa National Guard veteran who never stopped urging others to "pay it forward" in every aspect of their lives.  Before he passed away on August 26, 2011, after a battle with spinal cancer, Andrew Connolly could often be found at Dubuque's Veterans' Freedom Center, a place close to his heart.

"Andrew's life was committed to serving others," Braley said.  "Whether he was with his wife, Jenny, or his son, Brody, or serving overseas in Iraq, or advocating on Capitol Hill on behalf of other veterans, Andrew led by example.  The mantra he often repeated was 'pay it forward.'

 

"We organized today's day of service to honor and commemorate Andrew's selfless spirit and 'pay it forward' to the Dubuque Veterans' Freedom Center.  I hope this day grows in its scope and significance from this point forward - it's a fitting tribute to a man who was so focused on helping others despite a life that dealt him a very challenging set of circumstances."

Braley joined Jenny Connolly, the Freedom Center, and local groups to organize the day of service.  Braley spent his time putting up new drywall.  Volunteers were given custom Andrew Connolly Day of Service t-shirts.

Andrew Connolly worked hard to help his fellow veterans.  In May, the US House passed the Andrew Connolly Veterans' Housing Act, a bill Braley introduced to expand grant programs for permanently disabled veterans to remodel their homes and make them more disability-accessible

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Over 60 national employers participating in virtual career fair this Thursday

 

Waterloo, IA - Today, Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) announced that the Department of Veterans Affairs will hold a virtual online job fair for veterans this Thursday November 10, from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Central Time, the day before Veterans Day.

"Our veterans have made incredible sacrifices for our nation and after returning from the battlefield they deserve good jobs," Braley said. "I am committed to use every opportunity possible to help these veterans.  Iowa veterans should visit www.veteranscareerfair.com to register and take advantage of this great opportunity."

Over 60 national employers and nearly 40,000 veterans have already registered to participate in the online career fair.

"As we work to help Veterans find good paying jobs, it is important that we take advantage of online resources that connect our Veterans with employers around the Nation who want to hire these highly qualified and experienced men and women," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.

Veterans are encouraged to pre-register at http://www.veteranscareerfair.com for the online career fair.  During the career fair on Thursday, veterans from across Iowa and the country can log in and visit virtual employer booths, search for and apply to job openings, and chat with recruiters online.

Braley is the Ranking Member of the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity and last month held a field hearing in Waterloo that focused on veterans' economic opportunity and job creation, focusing especially on Iowa National Guard and Reserve members who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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VICKSBURG, Miss. - In a formal change of command ceremony, Major General Michael J. Walsh will transfer command of the Mississippi Valley Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to Major General John W. Peabody, Thursday, November 10.  The ceremony will be officiated by the Corps' Acting Chief of Engineers, Major General Merdith "Bo" Temple, and will take place at 10 a.m. in the Vicksburg Convention Center.

Maj. Gen. Walsh, MVD Commander and President of the Mississippi River Commission since February 2008, has been assigned as the Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, D.C.

Maj. Gen. Peabody comes to Vicksburg from Cincinnati, Ohio, where he was Commander and Division Engineer of the Corps' Great Lakes and Ohio River Division. Previous commands include the 618th Engineer Company (Light Equipment) (Airborne), 82nd Airborne Division; the 299th Engineer Battalion, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood, the Engineer Brigade for the 3rd Infantry Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom I, and the Pacific Ocean Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

As MVD Commander, General Peabody will be responsible for the Corps water resources programs in a 370,000-square-mile area that includes portions of 12 states; its boundary extends from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.  District offices are headquartered in St. Paul, Rock Island, St. Louis, Memphis, Vicksburg, and New Orleans.

In addition, General Peabody will be president-designee of the Mississippi River Commission, the presidentially appointed agency that oversees the comprehensive Mississippi River and Tributaries flood control and navigation project, as well as the entire Mississippi River and its tributaries.

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