“When lawmakers in Louisiana and New York were looking for ways to help financially strapped reservists and National Guard members, they turned to a little-known Illinois official for help.
When a rural Illinois couple's well ran dry while the husband was deployed in Iraq, the same official – Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn – found someone to drill another one….
Quinn has emerged as one of the nation's leading advocates for military members, their families and veterans…
He has spearheaded efforts big and small, from establishing a fund to help families with living expenses to ensuring that mothers of soldiers who die during service each receive a quilt. He has attended services for virtually every Illinoisan killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.”
-The Washington Post, July 10, 2007
Governor Pat Quinn’s advocacy for servicemembers, veterans and their families has been recognized from coast to coast.
From his groundbreaking efforts to provide financial relief to the families of National Guard and military reservists who are called up, to his recent trip to visit Illinois troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, Governor Quinn has proven his heartfelt commitment to the brave men and women who have fought for our freedom.
As Governor, Pat Quinn has taken action on behalf of Illinois servicemembers, past and present:
- Signed legislation extending and increasing employers’ tax credits for wages paid to recently returned veterans
- Created the Task Force on Veterans’ Jobs to help veterans apply their military training to state professional licensure requirements
- 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
- Fully funded operations at Illinois Veterans Home-LaSalle and approved building of a new veterans’ home in Chicago
- Appointed a new Director of Veterans Affairs, Iraq War veteran and U.S. Army Captain Dan Grant, a West Point graduate, who served as a platoon leader in Iraq and Germany, to maintain services to older veterans and expand outreach to newly returned servicemembers
- Established an Assistant Director for Women Veterans’ Affairs at IDVA, to create a new focus on the needs of Illinois women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces
As Lt. Governor, Pat Quinn championed the 2003 creation of the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund, which provides financial assistance to the families of Illinois National Guard members and reservists called to active duty.
Since then, we have seen our nation’s largest call-up of National Guard members and reservists since the Korean War. The lengthy and repeated deployments of those troops have affected thousands of families throughout Illinois – often creating serious financial hardships by sharply reducing the income of their primary breadwinner for months at a time. To date, the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund has approved nearly 19,000 applications and distributed $10 million to the families of called-up troops.
More than 35 states have passed legislation modeled after the Illinois Military Family Relief Act, and a national bill modeled after the Illinois program has been proposed in Congress.
Lt. Governor Quinn also spearheaded passage of the “Let Them Rest in Peace Act,” which protects grieving Illinois families from vile protests intended to disrupt funerals of servicemen and women. The law, which has served as a national model, establishes a zone of privacy to protect mourners at funerals from hate groups seeking to heckle and harass them. This law protects every Illinois family’s fundamental right to conduct a funeral with reverence and dignity.