SPRINGFIELD - Gov. Rod Blagojevich today announced that the state, through a partnership with SBC Midwest, is providing more than 4,000 calling cards to deploying and deployed members of the Illinois National Guard serving the nation in the Global War on Terror. Brig. Gen. Randal E. Thomas, Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard, began distributing the phone cards to Army Guard Commanders attending the Illinois National Guard Warrior Summit in Bloomington. In the coming weeks, the cards will be distributed to guard units deployed or preparing to deploy in support of operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Currently, 3,500 Illinois men and women are mobilized.
"Thousands of Illinois men and women are making tremendous personal sacrifices to help our nation fight this war on terror. They have willingly answered their nation's call to service," said Gov. Blagojevich. "Providing these calling cards is one small way we can show them how much we appreciate their sacrifice and service. My hope is that the cards will make it easier for our brave Illinois citizen soldiers and airmen to stay in touch with friends, family and loved ones back home."
The cards have a minimum face value of 30 minutes. However, if a Digital Satellite Network line, sometimes available through the Department of Defense, is accessible, the card’s time can increase to 120 minutes or more. This varies depending upon the connection. Use of the cards is self-explanatory and is similar to Operation Uplink phone cards distributed through the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
"We are thankful to our friends, family members, the Illinois National Guard Soldiers and Airmen, military personnel and the more than 250 members of the SBC family who are currently serving our country both at home and overseas," said Joe Walkoviak, SBC president and CEO Midwest. "Supporting a program such as this is an important way to express our appreciation for their sacrifice."
"I want to thank Gov. Blagojevich for his support of our Guard men and women serving in harms way in the Global War on Terror," said Brig. Gen. Randal E. Thomas, Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard. "I would also like to thank the Governor and Joe Walkoviak, president of SBC Midwest, for making these cards available to our troops. It means a lot to them to know that the people of Illinois care about them and the important work they are doing in the name of our nation."
Illinois Army Guard commanders from across the state attended the Warrior Summit, which began Friday and ends Sunday in Bloomington, to discuss various issues facing the Illinois Army National Guard in 2005 with senior Guard leaders.