Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today named Lou L. Myers Jr., of Petersburg, as the State of Illinois’ April “Veteran of the Month” for his help in shaping Illinois laws that benefit the state’s veterans and their families.
“Not only do veterans bravely serve our country in defense of our freedom and liberties. Some of them, like Lou Myers, keep working on behalf of others and stepping up to the plate when help is needed,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “I commend Mr. Myers for all of his hard work on behalf of Illinois veterans.”
The Governor’s “Veteran of the Month” award is a distinction that is given monthly to military veterans who excel as community activists and work on behalf of other veterans. On behalf of the Governor, Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) Director Roy L. Dolgos and Assistant Director Rochelle Crump will present Myers with the award during the Reserve Officers Association (ROA) annual state convention in Fairview Heights this evening.
“This is an award that Governor Blagojevich and I implemented to say thank you to the brave men and women who have served their country above and beyond the call of duty and continue to serve their community,” Director Dolgos explained.
According to his nomination, made by Michael P. Peck, Myer’s greatest contribution to the veterans of Illinois has been in the legislative arena, lobbying lawmakers and testifying before Senate and House Committees on various legislation that affect the state’s veterans, Reservists and Guardsman.
“It’s good to know that Illinois veterans have someone looking out for their best interests at the Statehouse,” added Assistant Director Crump. “Mr. Myers is a perfect example of what we call veterans helping veterans.”
Myers worked tirelessly to pass bills creating the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund and eliminating Illinois income tax on drill pay. He has also lobbied the General Assembly to approve the “Let Them Rest in Peace Act.” Myers played a vital role in the setting aside of state land at Springfield’s Oak Ridge Cemetery to honor Illinois veterans who served in the Persian Gulf War.
Myers is a Korean War veteran who has continued his service as a Colonel and the Chief of Staff of the Illinois National Guard. He is a long-time member of the American Legion, VFW and ROA. He has served on the ROA National Defense Education Committee and the Illinois State Fair Committee for Veterans’ Day for the past 12 years.
The “Veteran of the Month” award highlights the work of community activists who also happen to be military veterans. Each month, on behalf of Governor Blagojevich, Director Dolgos will recognize a different person or group that contributes to the betterment of communities across the state of Illinois. To nominate a “Veteran of the Month,” please call (217) 524-0629 to obtain a list of guidelines and a nomination form.
Since the beginning of his administration, the Governor has implemented several programs designed to help Illinois veterans. During his February Budget Address, Gov. Blagojevich proposed $10 million in funding to create a new program that would provide health care for uninsured, low-income veterans who live more than 50 miles from a federal VA hospital. Participants who take part in the pilot program would not be charged a monthly premium. Prescription drugs and doctors office visits would require a very minimal co-payment, ranging from two dollars to five dollars.
In response to the Governor’s direction, IDVA recently opened five new veteran service offices in Chicago and the suburbs (Aurora, Des Plaines, Orland Park and Palatine), each of which houses one of the state’s new 25 Veteran Service Officers responsible for assisting veterans apply for state and federal benefits. During the first quarter of 2006, thanks to the increased staff, the VSOs have helped more than 5,500 additional veterans apply and receive compensation and other benefits compared to the same time frame last year.