Saturday, December 6, 2003., Lt. Gov. Quinn saluted more than 400 Naval reservists returning home from active duty in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and promote his website, www.OperationHomefront.org, which has garnered more than 2.4 million hits and is one of the most informative military websites regarding American troops in the country
“Citizen soldiers such as these brave naval reservists have answered the call to duty and put their lives on the line for us,” said Quinn. “The idea behind this website is to help those who defend our country learn about the financial and legal rights they are entitled to as members of the Illinois National Guard, reserves and regular armed forces.”
Quinn helped to award medals and certificates of appreciation to the returning reservists along with Cpl. Richard E. Bush, Medal of Honor recipient for bravery and leadership in battle in Okinawa during WWII, and Navy SEAL Jody L. McIntyre, recipient of the Silver Star for his actions in the fight against Al Qa’ida and Taliban forces in Afghanistan and the Bronze Star for his actions in the current War on Terrorism.
Also joining Quinn was NASA astronaut and retired U.S. Navy Captain James Lovell; Capt. John G. Messerchmidt, Deputy Commander for Mission Effectiveness of Naval Reserve Readiness Command Midwest; Capt. Terry L. Wilson, Naval Reserve Center Chicago Commanding Officer; and Master Chief James G. Parlier, Naval Station Great Lakes and Navy Region Midwest and former Commander Master Chief of the U.S.S. Cole.
The 97-year-old Great Lakes Naval Training Center is home to 39 buildings that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, generates more than $729 million in revenue annually for Chicago and the local economy, services more than 50,000 troops.
Quinn has also led the successful drive to set up the “Illinois Military Family Relief Fund” to assist the families of Illinois National Guard member and reservists who face economic hardship when the breadwinner is on active duty.
The fund establishes a check-off box on the 2003 Illinois income tax returns to enable taxpayers to voluntarily donate to a special trust fund. Families of Illinois National Guard members or reservists called to active duty would be eligible for financial assistance for items like rent, utility bills or day care.
The Illinois Military Family Relief Fund has already helped more than 1,400 Illinois military families and has raised more than $75,000 by inspiring grassroots fundraisers throughout the state such as the bake sale fundraiser at Gurrie Middle School in LaGrange and the Lexington Vacation Bible Students who raised money for the fund by collecting student offerings.
“If you want to do something specific and concrete to support our troops, please consider sending a donation to the ‘Illinois Military Family Relief Fund’, P.O. Box 8889, Springfield, IL 62791,” Quinn urged. “All donations are tax deductible and every penny goes to the families of Illinois National Guard members and reservists who have been called to active duty.”