CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today announced that Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) Director Erica Borggren has been named a Woman Veteran Champion of Change by the White House. Director Borggren’s recognition was for her leadership at IDVA in creating the Illinois Joining Forces public-private network to assist Illinois servicemembers, veterans and their families.
“Our Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs is doing excellent work for Illinois veterans and making a difference under Erica Borggren’s leadership,” Governor Quinn said. “Serving our heroes is one of my top priorities and that’s why we’ve made Illinois the most veteran-friendly state in America. Erica is a great example of what our veterans bring back to our communities when they leave the service.”
Director Borggren and top leaders in the Illinois Departments of Veterans Affairs and Military Affairs helped create Illinois Joining Forces (IJF), a public-private network of nearly 200 military and veteran-serving organizations working together to create a “no wrong door” system of support for Illinois servicemembers, veterans and their families. IJF member organizations work together online at illinoisjoiningforces.org, where they post services and events and refer veteran clients to each other. In addition, they continue their mission in person through IJF Working Groups, where they identify gaps in services and work to bridge those gaps.
The Women Veteran Champion of Change event will take place on Tuesday, March 25 at the White House. The event will be live streamed at whitehouse.gov/live, and will include panel discussions featuring all ten of the honorees.
With the Champions of Change (whitehouse.gov/champions) program, the White House recognizes everyday Americans who are making positive changes in their communities. This Champions event will honor women veteran leaders who have contributed to our nation’s business, public and community service sectors.
Earlier in 2013, the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and its IJF network were recognized with the Abraham Lincoln Pillars of Excellence Award from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) at a special White House Ceremony. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs (NASDVA) President Clyde Marsh presented the award to Borggren on Feb. 11 during the 2014 NASDVA Mid-Winter Conference.
The Abraham Lincoln Pillar of Excellence Award is a new program by the VA in partnership with NASDVA. The goal of the award is to recognize those state agencies that engage on the three VA Priority Goals – eliminating claims backlogs, ending veteran homelessness, and improving access to VA benefits and services. The award also highlights those states for Innovative Excellence for programs or services to veterans.
A Rhodes Scholar and West Point graduate, Borggren currently serves as the Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. Besides IJF, under her leadership IDVA has also created a very successful Women Veterans Program and Veteran Entrepreneurship Program. Prior to her leadership in Governor Quinn’s administration, she served as a speechwriter for General David Petraeus in Iraq and as a company commander in Korea.
Governor Quinn has made commitment to veterans, servicemembers and their families a top priority throughout his career. He led the Illinois Warrior Assistance Program that helps veterans transition back to their daily lives and the Welcome Home Heroes program which helps support Illinois servicemembers seeking home ownership. As Lieutenant 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 are called to active duty. These grants help servicemembers and their families with the costs of food, housing, utilities and other expenses when the wage-earner has left civilian employment for 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.
For more information about these and other programs for our veterans, visit OperationHomefront.org or call the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs at (217) 782-6641 or (312) 814-2460.