SPRINGFIELD - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation expanding the eligibility criteria of the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund to include single, unmarried members of the Illinois National Guard and Illinois Reservists. The new law, which was initiated by Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, also provides payments of $3,000 to the spouse or dependents of service members who are killed in the ongoing Global War on Terrorism.
“Military personnel and their families make great sacrifices for the freedoms we enjoy,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “That’s why I think it’s important for the state to help ease the financial burden individual service members and their families face when they go to war – and particularly in the very unfortunate case where a service member gives the ultimate sacrifice.”
House Bill 4996, sponsored by Rep. Thomas Holbrook (D-Belleville) and Sen. Debbie DeFrancesco Halvorson (D-Chicago Heights), provides the Department of Military Affairs the power to make grants from the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund to single people who are members of the Illinois National Guard or to Illinois reservists. Prior to the new law, only Guard and Reserve members with dependants could apply for a grant. The Illinois Military Family Relief Fund provides grants to members of the Illinois National Guard and Illinois residents serving in the U.S. Armed Forces Reserves who are called to active duty in support of the Global War on Terrorism.
“Unmarried citizen soldiers suffer financially when called to active duty just as much as service members with spouses and children,” Lt. Gov. Quinn said. “The new law signed by Governor Blagojevich broadens Illinois’ trailblazing Military Family Relief Fund to enable every member of the National Guard or reserves to enjoy these benefits. It’s our way of saying thanks, we’ve got your back.”
House Bill 4996 also provides a payment of $3,000 to the survivors of a deceased veteran of the Global War on Terrorism. The Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs will administer the general payment process.
“This legislation is long overdue. This bill adjusts the law to the modern day realities of the needs of the men and women who serve our country,” said Rep. Holbrook.
“The Illinois Military Family Relief Fund has awarded more than $1.5 million to approximately 2,700 families since it began in July 2003,” said Brig. Gen. Randal Thomas, Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard. “This legislation allows even more Guard and Reserve members to take advantage of the fund.”
The new law takes effect immediately.