News from Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs – May 2013

While the month of May includes a wide range of military appreciation events and activities, we at the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) value and appreciate our veterans year round. Celebrating the accomplishments – and enabling the continued contributions – of our veterans is our daily mission.

Congress designated May as National Military Appreciation Month in 1999 to ensure the nation was given the opportunity to publically demonstrate their appreciation. For citizens across Illinois, it’s a great time to pause and thank those who have served.  In the calendar listings at the bottom of this newsletter, you can find (and share) information about a wide range of events, ceremonies and programs to honor and celebrate our veterans.

Even as you help us spread this word, we also hope you’ll encourage your fellow veterans to “Stand Up & Be Counted”  This easy online tool has helped us serve more than 5,000 veterans.  Please share this newsletter and encourage veterans to Stand Up and Be Counted.  SUBC registration is free, easy and helps us gain and maintain contact with the veterans we serve.

Please spread the word!

 

Launched in November 2012, Illinois Joining Forces (IJF) is a public-private network of organizations committed to collaborating toward better, more navigable services and support for our service members, veterans, and their families.

In six short months since being formed, IJF has:

–  grown to include 189 provisional member organizations or agencies

–  gained momentum in key IJF Working Groups, with the Education Working Group having hosted seminars on transfer of military training credit, and the Behavioral Health Working Group having hosted several additional “Military and Veteran 101” seminars for community providers.

– established and improved an interactive website (www.illinoisjoiningforce.org) that member organizations, veterans, and their families can use to seek or refer individuals to the right resource.

IJF’s next challenge lies in transitioning provisional member organizations to full membership and in assisting them in updating their IJF member profiles before Provisional Membership expires on May 9.  More than 70 organizations have already made the move.  Whether you’re new to IJF or simply have yet to sign on for full membership, please check out the membership documents here.

As always, the IJF support team stands by to assist at info@illinoisjoiningforces.org.

Thanks to great support from Excel Foundry & Machine and representatives from other State agencies and organizations, IDVA’s Mission: Military 2 Manufacturing Fair was a great success.

Over 40 veterans participated in this half-day event at Excel’s Pekin facility, learning about the jobs, salaries and career paths available in advanced manufacturing and logistics. With Illinois’ manufacturing sector in dire need of skilled workers — experts estimate that Illinois manufacturers currently have over 30,000 jobs open for trained workers – this event served as an exceptional opportunity to help veterans identify how they can leverage their previous military training to jump-start a career in advanced manufacturing.

IDVA is already preparing our next Mission: Military 2 Manufacturing event – stay tuned!

 

On behalf of Governor Pat Quinn, IDVA recognized Jonathan J. Lehuta, a prominent veteran leader in DeKalb County with over 30 years of service to his community, county and fellow veterans, as the Illinois Veteran of the Month for April 2013.  The ceremony took place at the DeKalb County Veterans Assistance Commission’s offices.  IDVA leaders joined the citizens of DeKalb County in their gratitude for Mr. Lehuta’s contributions and accomplishments, presenting him with his framed a signed Governor’s proclamation, as well as a state flag which was flown over the state Capitol in his honor.

Maj. Gen. James H. Mukoyama, Jr., a Chicago native, served for over thirty years of total active and reserve component service, including two combat tours in Vietnam.  As the first Asian-American in the history of the United States to command an Army division, he was also one of the youngest general officers in modern time. Since retiring, he has championed veteran issues and answered a calling to devote his  life to ministry.  He founded the Military Outreach Greater Chicago (MOGC), a faith-based non-profit organization serving our military — Active, Guard, Reserve, Veterans — and their families, to cope with the visible and invisible wounds associated with military service. He will be honored at a ceremony at the Pritzker Military Library on Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 2 p.m.

About Veteran of the Month

The Illinois Veteran of the Month Award is presented to veterans who continue to serve their communities after leaving the military and make a real difference in the lives of others. To nominate a veteran for consideration, please visit veterans.illinois.gov.

IDVA’s Veteran Service Officers (VSO’s) are veterans themselves and are committed to serving their fellow Illinois veterans.  Each month, our VSO’s serve on average over 5,000 veterans and family members on a wide range of topics, issues and challenges.  Many of these encounters are requests for information or brief meetings to sign and file claims.  Our VSO’s are passionate about serving and are now employing CyberVet, an IDVA-developed software system which is streamlining our ability to access, organize, file and track veterans’ claims and correspondence within IDVA and with the federal VA.   Our goal?  To improve services for the nearly 800,000 veterans in Illinois, speed benefit claims, and help our veterans get the support they deserve.

Part of our continued improvement is in the regular training and certification of our VSO’s. To ensure our VSO’s our up-to-date on new federal and state programs and developments, IDVA will be providing all our VSO’s with annual training on June 4-7, 2013.  During that time our local, regional and state VSO offices will be closed, as all the VSO’s will be coming to Decatur for a training event.

During this time, veterans and family members should call (800) 437-9824 for assistance.

 

Your IDVA Calendar  

May 8       Victory in Europe Day – Thank You, WWII Veterans!

May 8       Media Workshop – “Covering the New Veterans”      9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m

                 Illinois Press Association,  900 Community Drive, Springfield 

May 10     Military Spouse Appreciation Day

May 10     Media Workshop – “Covering the New Veterans”      9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m

                 The Daily Herald, 155 E. Algonquin Rd., Arlington Heights

May 18     Armed Forces Day

May 24     Memorial Day Observance – Illinois Veteran Home – Quincy

May 27     Memorial Day Observance – Paul Revere Post 623 – Chicago

May 24     Memorial Day Observance – Illinois Veteran Home – Anna

                Pritzker Military Library, 104 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago IL  2 p.m.

May 30     Memorial Day Program – Illinois Veteran Home – LaSalle    2:00 p.m.

May 30     Memorial Day Program – Illinois Veteran Home – Manteno    2:00 p.m.

June 4-7   Illinois Veteran Service Officer Training – Decatur, Illinois

 VSO Offices will be closed.  Please call (800) 437-9824 for assistance.

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