CHICAGO - December 19, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today departed on his annual journey to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) in Germany to personally deliver holiday cards to wounded servicemembers who are overseas this holiday season. Each year schoolchildren across Illinois demonstrate their overwhelming support for our troops through the Illinois Heroes holiday card drive, which helps ensure a brighter holiday for wounded soldiers at LRMC. Governor Quinn also encouraged people throughout Illinois to support Operation Hero Miles, a program that benefits servicemembers who were injured overseas.
“I salute everyone in Illinois who took time this holiday season to show their support and appreciation for the sacrifice and service of our Veterans and servicemembers,” Governor Quinn said. “While our troops faithfully serve our country overseas, we want to remind them that they are missed and do all we can to make their Christmas a little more bright and merry.”
This year’s trip marks Governor Quinn’s eighth annual visit to the wounded troops at LRMC. The hospital serves as the primary medical facility for servicemembers engaged in overseas military operations, and is often the first stop on a long road home for many soldiers injured in Iraq or Afghanistan. During the visit, Governor Quinn will present servicemembers, doctors and staff at the facility with holiday cards made by Illinois schoolchildren. The cards will be shipped to Germany through Chicago-based United Airlines.
Governor Quinn today also encouraged everyone in Illinois to support Operation Hero Miles, a program that helps bring together military families during the holiday season. Operated by the Fisher House Foundation, Operation Hero Miles accepts donations of unused frequent flyer miles to provide airline tickets to military families. To date, the Operation Hero Miles program has issued more than 34,000 donated tickets, saving servicemembers and their families nearly $54 million. To donate airline miles, visit www.fisherhouse.org.
The governor also highlighted the success of the inaugural Warm Our Warriors collection drive, a state employee initiative that provides much-needed items for Illinois Veterans in-need and their families. Through the drive, state employees donated more than 3,100 items this year, including warm winter clothes, canned foods and hygiene products.
“I thank the public servants who stepped up and made the inaugural Warm Our Warriors drive so successful,” Governor Quinn added. “Their important donations will help ensure a better holiday season for Veterans in need throughout Illinois.”
Governor Quinn has made commitment to Veterans, servicemembers and their families a top priority 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 non-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.
As Lieutenant Governor, Governor Quinn championed 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. To date, the fund has distributed more than $14.5 million to over 27,200 Illinois military families to assist with the financial burden at home when a loved one is deployed overseas.
For more information about these and other programs for our Veterans, visit www.OperationHomefront.org or call the Illinois Dept. of Veterans’ Affairs at 217-782-6641 or 312-814-2460.