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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 12, 2007

Governor Blagojevich declares February 12-18 as National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans Week in Illinois
Encourages Illinoisans to visit hospitalized veterans and learn about volunteer opportunities

SPRINGFIELD– In conjunction with the 29th annual observance of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today issued a proclamation declaring February 12-18, 2007 as National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans Week in Illinois.  The Governor encouraged Illinoisans to visit local hospitalized veterans this week to say thank you for the sacrifices they made for our country.  The Governor also urged Illinoisans to learn about volunteer opportunities at medical facilities around the state. 
 
“Our veterans have bravely served our country in defense of our freedom.  I want to encourage everybody to take some time this week to honor and give thanks to these brave men and women, and to let them know that the sacrifices they have made will never be forgotten,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
 
This week at VA medical centers, nursing homes, state veterans homes, and other facilities across the nation, celebrities, youth groups, members of the general public, and veterans service organizations will visit hospitalized veterans to honor those who have contributed to the defense of our nation and the protection of our freedoms.  Gov. Blagojevich and Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Acting Director L. Tammy Duckworth encouraged Illinoisans of all ages to join in this worthy observance and visit the state’s veterans.
 
“This week is a time where we can directly express our personal thanks and appreciation to our veterans for their incredible commitment to our country and its people,” said Acting Director Duckworth.  “And I want to encourage people throughout the state to volunteer at their local medical center as a way to show they care for those who ensured America’s freedom and strength.  Our hospitalized veterans were injured serving our country, and now they deserve the best care that we as a nation can give them for the rest of their lives.”
 
The annual observance occurs during the week of Valentine’s Day because it is a perfect time to communicate feelings of affection and express sentiments of care and respect for loved ones, friends and those we admire. Hundreds of thousands of Valentine’s Day cards addressed “Dear Veteran” have been sent to hospitalized veterans over the years.
 
Illinois is home to 36 veteran hospitals, including seven hospitals located in Chicago.  For a full list, visit www.OperationHomefront.org.
 
The text of the Governor’s proclamation follows:
 
WHEREAS, in 1978, Veterans’ Affairs (VA) took over sponsorship of a program, the annual VA National Salute program, which was started in 1974 by No Greater Love, Inc., a humanitarian organization; and
 
WHEREAS, this program seeks to honor hospitalized veterans, increase community awareness of the VA’s role in providing comprehensive medical care to the Nation’s veterans, and to encourage Americans to visit hospitalized veterans and work as VA volunteers; and
 
WHEREAS, through the generations, America's men and women in uniform have defeated tyrants, liberated continents, and set a standard of courage and idealism for the entire world; and
 
WHEREAS, to protect the Nation they love, our veterans stepped forward when America needed them most.  In answering history's call with honor, decency, and resolve, our veterans have shown the power of liberty and earned the respect and admiration of a grateful Nation; and
 
WHEREAS, all of America's veterans have placed our Nation's security before their own lives, creating a debt that we can never fully repay.  Our veterans represent the best of America, and they deserve the best America can give them; and
 
WHEREAS, as we recall the service of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen, we are reminded that the defense of freedom comes with great loss and sacrifice; and
 
WHEREAS, during the week of February 12th to 18th, local celebrities, youth groups, members of the general public, and veterans service organizations will visit patients at VA medical centers, nursing homes, state veterans homes, and other facilities:
 
THEREFORE, I, Rod R. Blagojevich, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby proclaim February 12-18, 2007 as NATIONAL SALUTE TO HOSPITALIZED VETERANS WEEK in Illinois, and encourage all citizens to join in this worthy observance.


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