Season's Greetings!


Dir. BorggrenAs we approach the New Year, we at IDVA are pleased to announce the launch of online access to our Veteran Service Officers. This new web function, located at, encourages all Illinois Veterans to "Stand Up and Be Counted" by submitting basic contact information to IDVA.  


Veterans who do so will be contacted within 48 hours by one of our Veterans Service Officers, who stand ready to assist them in navigating the many federal, state, and local benefits and resources available to them. 


Veterans who Stand Up to Be Counted will also be assisting their fellow veterans by helping IDVA and the entire veteran advocacy community to gain a better understanding of who and where Illinois' veterans are. This will help us plan for future services, lobby for further federal VA funding and facilities, and generally serve Illinois' veterans better.


As always, we appreciate your partnership in helping us to spread the word. And our thanks to all of you for the overwhelming response we received to our inaugural newsletter!


Wishing all of you a blessed holiday season,



Erica Borggren

Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs 

Home Financing Program Helps Illinois Veterans
Pictured with Gov. Quinn are
IHDA's Mary Kenney (left) and
Maj. Gen. William Enyart.
Governor Pat Quinn and Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) Executive Director Mary Kenney last week announced a new home financing program for Illinois veterans and military families.


The Welcome Home Heroes program is open to all qualified Illinois veterans (who need not be first-time buyers), plus active duty, reservists and Illinois National Guard members who are first-time home buyers.


This homebuyer financing package includes a forgivable $10,000 grant for the down-payment and closing cost assistance; an affordable interest rate (4 percent as of Dec. 15th) for a secure 30-year fixed rate mortgage; and, a mortgage credit certificate worth up to approximately $20,000 for the life of the loan.


Read more about the home financing program.

Maintenance Fee Forums Hosted by IVAC
Manteno forum
Veterans' home residents, family members and advocates voiced their concerns and ideas regarding a possible increase in maintenance fees, including these veterans who attended the forum held Dec. 10th at the Manteno Veterans Home.

Earlier this month, IDVA and members of the Illinois Veterans Advisory Council (IVAC) conducted a listening tour that stopped at each of the State's four veterans homes to solicit input and advice regarding a possible increase in the amount of maintenance fees paid by each resident.


These fees, which are based on each resident's income, have been capped at $929 per month since 1979. At the time, Illinois had only one veterans home and $929 was the full cost of care. Since then, three additional veterans homes have opened and the cost to deliver care has significantly increased as long-term care costs have skyrocketed.


In the end, after collecting and reviewing comments and concerns, the IVAC overwhelmingly approved a 5-point recommendation for IDVA's consideration.


Read more about the IVAC's recommendations.
New Laws Help to Improve Veterans' Quality of Life

Two new laws, signed this week by Governor Pat Quinn, make it easier for Illinois Veterans to gain access to employment and health care.


Sponsored by Sen. Antonio Munoz (D-Chicago) and Rep. Edward Acevedo (D-Chicago), Senate Bill 1587 makes it easier for Veterans to become members of the Illinois State Police (ISP).


Under the new law, education requirements will be waived for individuals who have been honorably discharged with a campaign medal after serving in Afghanistan or Iraq. On average, a servicemember serves three to four years before being discharged, and that experience makes Veterans particularly valuable assets to the ISP.


Senate Bill 40, sponsored by Sen. Susan Garrett (D-Highwood) and Rep. Lisa Dugan (D-Kankakee), extends the Veterans Care program. The program provides Veterans with comprehensive health care coverage for $40 or $70 per month (depending on income). The program had been set to expire on Jan. 1.

Class of 2011 Veterans of the Month
VOTM Class of 2011
December 2011 Veteran of the Month, Jack Amberg (right), joins the VOTM Class of 2011 during a ceremony at the Pritzker Military Library.

At a widely attended ceremony at Chicago's renowned Pritzker Military Library last week, IDVA honored Illinois' December Veteran of the Month, U.S. Army veteran Jack Amberg of Naperville, IL, as well as all twelve of 2011's Veterans of the Month.


"Our Veterans of the Month represent the very best of the thousands of veterans across our state who are quietly pouring into their communities simply because it's in their DNA," Director Borggren said.


Amberg, who enlisted the Army after high school, rose to the rank of 

Lieutenant Colonel before retiring. He was honored for his unselfish impact on the local veterans' community through his role as Senior Director of Veteran Programs for the McCormick Foundation, where he has spearheaded their important work on veterans' issues in the Chicagoland area and beyond.


In addition to Amberg, the other 2011 VOTM recipients included (*denotes veterans not in attendance):

  • January--Betty Butler of St. Charles who served in the United States Navy, in the WAVES, from 1944-1946.
  • *February--Quentin Smith and Robert Martin, Tuskegee Airmen who served in the United States Army Air Corps from 1942-1945 and 1944-1945, respectively.
  • March--Rosemary Connolly of Chatham who served in the United States Air Force from 1972-1995.
  • April--Dennis Thompson of Alsip who served in the United States Marine Corps from 1966-1967.
  • May--Aaron Rucker of Chicago who served in the United States Army for 16 years.
  • June--Maryna Misiewicz of Freeport who served in the United States Army from 1966-1976.
  • July--Lou Vargas of Crest Hill who served in the United States Army from 1966-1968.
  • August--John Metzger of Benton who served in the United States Army from 1968-1970.
  • September--Ken McNatt of Wheaton who served in the United States Navy from 1942-1945.
  • *October--Ural Copple of Walnut Hill who served in the United States Army from 1945-1946.
  • November--Bob Gibson of Woodstock who served in the United States Navy from 1942-1945.

To nominate a "Veteran of the Month," please visit IDVA's website at to obtain a list of guidelines and a nomination form.


IDVA on the Issues: PTSD

Illinois Warrior Assistance Program 

IDVA provides free and confidential assistance for returning Illinois Veterans through the Illinois Warrior Assistance Program. IWAP's goal is to help service members and their families deal with the emotional challenges they may be facing as they transition back to their daily lives. Veterans or their loved ones may access benefits by calling 1-866-554-IWAP (4927) or by logging on the the program website at IWAP is a free and confidential resource provided by the State of Illinois and is not connected to the U.S. Armed Forces or the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in any way.


Veterans Cash Grants

Since the inception of the Veterans Cash scratch-off lottery ticket in 2007, IDVA has awarded more than $9.5 million to organizations for the betterment of the Illinois veteran community. This total includes $1.7 million in grants to organizations serving veterans suffering from PTSD. More than 3,000 veterans have been helped with PTSD-related issues through Veterans Cash grant funding.

In This Issue
Home Financing Program for Veterans
Update: Vets Home Maintenance Fees
Governor Signs Bills to Benefit Veterans
Veterans of the Month
IDVA on the Issues

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