CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation that will help coordinate the donations and grants made by the public toward Illinois’ veterans. Today's action is part of Governor Quinn's agenda to support Illinois’ military families.
“When it comes to supporting our veterans, Illinois is second to none,” Governor Quinn said. “This law is just another way a grateful state can say ‘thank you’ to those who served. Now we can help ensure our servicemembers receive the support they deserve for all of the sacrifices they have made to protect our freedoms.”
“We are grateful for Governor Quinn’s leadership and support of our Illinois veterans and their families,” Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Acting Director Rodrigo Garcia said. “The bill he’s signed into law today is a strong initiative to continue helping us to help those who’ve served. Senate Bill 3222 creates the Illinois Joining Forces Foundation and marks the next stage in our efforts to help so many deserving people across Illinois. We are also grateful to the sponsors and supporters of this important piece of legislation.”
Senate Bill 3222, sponsored by State Senator Mike Hastings (D-Matteson), a West Point graduate and Iraq veteran, and State Representative Wayne Rosenthal (R-Litchfield), a veteran and a retired Illinois Air National Guard officer, represents the next step forward for Illinois Joining Forces. The law allows Illinois Joining Forces to be housed in a non-profit organization, the Illinois Joining Forces Foundation. The Foundation will help coordinate the “sea of goodwill” being offered to veterans and their families from numerous public and private sources. The new partnership allows the Illinois Joining Forces program to solicit, accept and disperse grants and donations on behalf of the state’s veterans. This central coordination will ensure the most effective acceptance and distribution of assistance for veterans. The law is effective immediately.
“The Illinois Joining Forces Foundation is an outstanding way to show our veterans that we will honor and support them even after their services are inactive,” Senator Hastings said. “When these men and women return to their homes, they should not have to go door to door to receive the services they may need and the foundation will provide an excellent one-stop-shop for them.”
“With so many organizations available to assist our military service members, veterans and families, it can often be overwhelming to know where to turn for assistance,” Representative Rosenthal said. “That is where the Illinois Joining Forces excels. By creating a one-stop shop to help our military find the assistance they need, the Foundation makes the process less daunting. Establishing the Illinois Joining Forces Foundation as a not-for-profit will allow for additional resources to be allocated towards their mission, services and programs.”
Illinois Joining Forces has been recognized by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as an “innovative example” of expanding collaboration and information sharing at the local level. In Feb. 2014, IDVA received the Abraham Lincoln Pillars of Excellence Award from the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs for its creation of Illinois joining forces. For more information on Illinois Joining Forces, visit www.illinoisjoiningforces.org
Governor Quinn has long been a leader for supporting Illinois’ military families. 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. 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. Today’s bill signing creates a foundation that will help further this organization’s mission of assisting veterans.