CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today is departing for the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) in Bethesda, Md., on his annual journey to personally deliver holiday cards to wounded Illinois servicemembers. Each year schoolchildren across Illinois demonstrate their overwhelming support for our troops through the Illinois Heroes holiday card drive, which helps ensure a brighter holiday for wounded soldiers. The Governor will personally deliver the cards to servicemembers recovering in the hospital tomorrow morning.
"It’s important that we recognize the sacrifices our servicemembers, veterans and their families make for our great country,” Governor Quinn said. “The Illinois Heroes drive is a thank you from all of Illinois for those heroes who have to spend the holiday season away from home.”
This year marks the ninth time that Governor Quinn has visited Illinois troops and their families for Christmas. For the previous eight years, Governor Quinn traveled to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) in Germany, which is the largest American hospital outside of the United States. Since many servicemembers have returned home after the drawdown of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, Governor Quinn will visit the WRNMMC this year. During the visit, Governor Quinn will present servicemembers, doctors and staff at the facility with holiday cards made by Illinois schoolchildren. The cards are to be shipped to Maryland through Chicago-based United Airlines.
The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., is the largest military medical center in the United States and is the first destination in the U.S. for servicemembers that were wounded or injured from global conflicts.
The Governor also highlighted the success of the Warm Our Warriors collection drive, a state employee initiative that provides much-needed items for Illinois veterans in need and their families. Through the drive, state employees donated more than 2,300 items this year, including warm winter clothes, canned foods and hygiene products.
“I thank the public servants who stepped up and made the Warm Our Warriors drive so successful for the second year in a row,” Governor Quinn added. “Their important donations will help ensure a better holiday season for veterans in need.”
Governor Quinn has always made our veterans, servicemembers and their families one of his top priorities. He championed numerous veterans’ causes during his service as Lieutenant Governor and Illinois Treasurer. In 2011, Governor Quinn launched the Welcome Home Heroes program to support Illinois servicemembers seeking homeownership. In 2012, the Governor proposed in his State of the State address and signed into law the Hiring Veterans Tax Credit. The law provides a significant additional tax credit to businesses who hire unemployed veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, to both help businesses create jobs and give those jobs to the people who have sacrificed so much for our state and our country.
Earlier this year, Governor Quinn launched the newest Veterans Cash instant lottery ticket, a $2 ticket with all proceeds going to benefit Illinois veterans’ organizations. Since the Governor first championed and launched the program in 2006, Veterans Cash has awarded more than $11 million in grants to more than 210 veterans’ organizations statewide. The Illinois Lottery’s Veterans Cash game is the first lottery game in the United States to earmark 100 percent of net proceeds to veterans.
For more information on these and other programs for our veterans, please visit operationhomefront.org.