MACHESNEY PARK—Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn paid a visit to more than 100 Cub Scouts and their families from Wolf Scout Pack 411 in Machesney Park to detail his trip to Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar last week – including his meeting with Rockford native Terry Bandy of the 82nd Airborne Division.
“As a student athlete, Terry Bandy inspired students as a Rockford Auburn High School track star,” said Quinn. “Now, as an American hero in the fight against terrorism, Staff Sgt. Bandy has reinforced my commitment to making sure that all our Illinois soldiers know about their legal and financial rights when they come home.”
Quinn encouraged soldiers, military families, employers and everyday citizens to log on to www.OperationHomefront.org - a site that has already garnered more than 3.5 million hits - to learn how to support our American soldiers. Quinn also urged public support for the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund.
“From my own experience as a Cub Scout, I know firsthand how hardworking and inventive Scouts can be,” said Quinn. “I urge individuals from Wolf Scout Pack 411 to take what they have learned from being a Scout back to their schools and organize fundraisers for the Military Family Relief Fund to help the families of Illinois National Guard members and reservists on active duty pay for items like rent, utility bills or day care.”
Quinn was joined by Terry Bandy’s parents - Elle and Tom Bandy – and presented them with a picture he took with their son Terry who is still stationed overseas. Also joining Quinn was Illinois Military Family Relief Fund House sponsor Rep. Charles E. Jefferson (D-Rockford) and Harlem Township Official Doug Aurand.
The first statewide elected official in the United States to visit the region, Quinn joined NASCAR racing stars and employers of National Guard members for the five-day, 15,500-mile trip as part of the “Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Civic Leader Tour”.
Quinn - who slept in a military tent in Baghdad - traveled in a military convoy and flew aboard a Black Hawk helicopter to visit two forward operating bases in Iraq. He delivered Illinois state flags to be flown over five bases where Illinois troops are stationed and served as an honor guard escort for two soldiers killed in action.
Quinn also observed the grassroots peacekeeping role performed by troops. “It’s a challenging task and these troops are to be saluted,” Quinn said. “We’re engaged in the most comprehensive effort to help a nation rebuild civilian society in more than a half-century.”
Quinn greeted National Guard, reservist and regular troops at several military bases and assured them they have not been forgotten on the homefront, telling them in person about the Military Family Relief Fund and his website, www.OperationHomeFront.org.
The Illinois Military Family Relief Fund is a model program that enables Illinois taxpayers to voluntarily donate to the Fund on their state income tax forms. The Fund assists the families of Illinois National Guard members and reservists who experience a financial hardship when the breadwinner is called to active duty. Some 1,642 families have received $667,500 from the Fund already.