ROCKFORD – Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to allow the children of fallen servicemembers apply for Gold Star license plates. Today’s action is part of Governor Quinn's agenda to support Illinois’ military families.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to all the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country,” Governor Quinn said. “We are proud of all Illinois military families for their continued support while their loved ones have answered the call to duty. The Gold Star license plates serve as a small but constant reminder of all those who have given everything to protect our freedoms here at home.”
House Bill 5475, sponsored by State Representative John M. Cabello (R-Machesney Park) and State Senator Dave Syverson (R-Rockford), allows the sons and daughters of fallen servicemembers to apply for Gold Star license plates. Spouses, siblings or parents of persons who have lost their lives while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces may already apply for these special plates. The law is effective Jan. 1, 2015.
The Gold Star is distributed to members of the immediate family of a fallen servicemember by the U.S. Department of Defense. The pin is distributed according to strict Department of Defense guidelines for servicemembers who have lost their lives in conflict or in support of certain military operations.
"Fallen military men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the freedoms that we enjoy today,” Representative Cabello said. “Their families deserve our highest levels of support and respect. My hope is that these Gold Star license plates will provide an added way for these sons and daughters to be recognized for their sacrifice and the sacrifice and service of their loved one.”
“A Gold Star shows that a loved one made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country,” Senator Syverson said. “This will allow their children to keep the memory of their heroic actions alive for all to see.”
Throughout his career, Governor Quinn has made commitment to veterans, servicemembers and their families a top priority. As lieutenant governor, he launched the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund that provides benefits for families of Illinois National Guard and Reserve servicemembers who are called to action during global conflict. Since its inception in 2003, the IMFRF has provided more than $15.4 million in support of 28,840 families of deployed servicemembers.
Governor Quinn recently signed a law to make it easier for the children of Illinois servicemembers to enroll in Illinois schools. He initiated the Illinois Veterans Grant and Illinois National Guard Grant, which cover tuition at all Illinois public universities and community colleges for eligible veterans and serving National Guard members. He also required colleges to post all benefits available to Illinois veterans and assign a staff member to serve as the point of contact for student-veterans who need information and assistance.
The Governor also launched the Illinois Warrior Assistance Program that helps veterans transition back to their daily lives and the Welcome Home Heroes program which helps support Illinois servicemembers seeking home ownership. In total, the state has targeted $20 million in Illinois Jobs Now! capital funds to the Welcome Home Heroes program to help increase affordable homeownership opportunities for military veterans and their families.
In 2012, Governor Quinn and the Departments of Veterans and Military Affairs spearheaded the statewide public-private partnership, Illinois Joining Forces, which has been a model for other states to follow. The program Families, Children, and Survivors Working Group has been effectively collaborating to make sure Illinois is addressing the needs of military families and children here in Illinois.