SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that more than a half million dollars has been distributed through a special state relief fund created to assist Illinois military families whose loved ones have been called to active duty as a result of the nation’s war on terrorism.
“At a time when our men and women in uniform are taking risks and making sacrifices to serve the nation in a time of war, it is important that we show support for their husbands, wives and children who are here at home,” Blagojevich said. “This is a way to put our soldiers minds at ease and let them know that their loved ones are receiving financial help while they are fighting for the freedoms we enjoy.”
The Military Family Relief Fund was created to provide financial support to the families of Illinois National Guard and Reserve members facing economic hardships because the military member has been called to active duty.
The governor’s fiscal year 2004 budget, which began July 1, includes $5 million for the fund and an additional $75,000 in donations that has been received from private businesses, foundations and civic organizations. Individuals will also be able to make contributions to the fund when filing their 2003 individual income tax returns next year.
“The Department of Military Affairs and the Illinois National Guard are proud to be able to administer this fund for reserve military families,” said Brig. Gen. Randal Thomas, Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard. “More than 500 Illinois National Guard soldiers were recently called to active duty. We owe it to our soldiers and airmen to ensure that their families have assistance available to them, whether financially or emotionally through our family readiness groups.”
Funds can be dispersed in three categories: status-based for up to a $500 grant, need-based too a maximum of $2,000 and casualty-based up to $1,000. Processing time takes four- to six-weeks from when applications are received, but on average families are receiving checks in four weeks.
“We receive numerous phone calls from applicants expressing their appreciation,” said 2nd Lt. Shannon Pennell, military program supervisor and program manager for the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund. “We kept them in mind when we designed the application to make it as easy as possible and thus get them the needed assistance as quickly as possible.”
Donations may be sent to: Illinois Military Family Relief Fund, 1301 N. MacArthur Blvd., Springfield, IL 62702. For more information about the fund or to receive an application, people can call toll-free 1-866-524-4564 or visit www.il.ngb.army.mil.