Gov. Quinn Honors Illinois’ Veterans at Solider Field

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CHICAGO – Gov. Pat Quinn honored Illinois’ veterans, service members and their families on Tuesday at a special ceremony held at Soldier Field.

“For their service and sacrifice, our brave members of America’s armed forces have inspired people across the state for many generations,” Quinn said.

On this Veterans Day, I am thankful to my father and all service members who have gone forward in the face of danger to protect the freedoms of those at home. While we could never repay our veterans who have borne the battle, we need to continue to protect those who have protected us. That means making sure our veterans have access to job opportunities, education and safe and affordable housing. Today and always, Illinois should stand as the most veteran-friendly state in the nation.”

Throughout Quinn’s career in public service, he has made veterans and service members a top priority. When Illinois soldiers began coming home in 2011 from Iraq and Afghanistan, Quinn launched the Welcome Home Heroes program. Its mission was to help the men and women reconnect with their families and become homeowners. More than 1,600 veterans, including active military men and women have been able to buy their first home through the program.

In 2009, Quinn dedicated state dollars to help create affordable housing for veterans.

Other things he has done to help veterans include:

–The Illinois Military Family Relief Fund Act, which established a fund to provide grants to families of Illinois National Guard members and Illinois residents serving in the U.S. Armed Forces Reserve components who were called to active duty as a result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. These grants help service members and their families with the costs of food, housing, utilities, medical services and other expenses they struggle to afford because a wage-earner has temporarily left civilian employment to be placed on active military duty. The fund has distributed more than $15.1 million to 29,625 Illinois military families to assist with the financial burden at home when a loved one is deployed overseas.

–The Illinois Warrior Assistance Program that helps veterans transition back to their daily lives and the Veterans Cash instant lottery program where all proceeds go to benefit Illinois veterans’ organizations. Since the Governor first launched the program in 2006, Veterans Cash has awarded more than $11 million in grants to more than 210 veterans’ organizations statewide.

–He launched Operation Hero Miles, which uses donated frequent flyer miles to provide free round-trip airline tickets to military families flying to visit a service member receiving medical treatment. The program also enables wounded or ill service members with approved leave to fly home at no cost. To date, Operation Hero Miles has issued more than 40,000 donated tickets, saving service members and their families nearly $63 million.

–In 2004, Gov. Quinn established the “Portrait of a Soldier” memorial exhibit to honor fallen Illinois service members. The series of portraits began when artist Cameron Schilling of Mattoon drew the first portrait of Army Spc. Charles Neeley, also of Mattoon, after Neeley was killed in Iraq. Schilling, a student at Eastern Illinois University at the time, committed to drawing a portrait of every Illinois servicemember who has fallen during the Global War on Terror. The exhibit features a series of hand-drawn portraits of nearly all of the 326 Illinois men and women who have died while serving our country in Iraq and Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001.

–In 2012, the Governor proposed in his State of the State address and signed into law the Hiring Veterans Tax Credit. The law provides a significant additional tax credit to businesses who hire unemployed veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, to both help businesses create jobs and give those jobs to the people who have sacrificed so much for our state and country.

For more information about these and other programs for our Veterans, visit or call the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs at (217) 782-6641 or (312) 814-2460.

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