December 2012 - In This Issue
Season's Greetings From IDVA
Illinois Joining Forces Off To A Great Start
Veterans Cash Lottery Tickets For Stocking Stuffers
Illinois Warrior Assistance Program Stands Ready For Holidays
Governor Quinn Kicks Off USO Cheer Basket Program
Bradley A. Lavite Named December Veteran Of The Month

Season's Greetings From IDVA!

Dir. Borggren

As we approach the holidays, all of us at IDVA would like to extend our best wishes to the veterans we serve, as well as to the veteran advocates with whom we partner every day.


Over the past year, we have made great strides together in addressing the critical needs of Illinois veterans and their families. It is the greatest of privileges to work with you in this endeavor.


As we cross into 2013, we look forward to making further strides in our shared endeavor to serve our heroes and their loved ones.


Happy Holidays!


Erica J. Borggren


Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs

Illinois Joining Forces Off To A Great Start

IJF logo

Thanks to the more than 160 organizations that have signed up on the Illinois Joining Forces website! 


As we continue to improve the IJF website, we need your help to make the search and referral capability the powerful tool we all desire. If you have already created an IJF profile, please login and update your profile with detailed programs and services (including key words you would anticipate others would use in searching for services like yours) and add your upcoming events to the website. And if your organization hasn't yet joined the IJF movement, you can always do so by creating a profile at If you need assistance in using the website, please contact us 


In the meantime, we are planning a webinar for IJF members to provide an overview of the website and how to use if for searches, referrals, and working group collaboration. Look for more news on this front after the holidays!

 Veterans Cash Tickets For Stocking Stuffers

2012 Vets Cash ticket Looking for that last-minute gift? The Illinois Lottery's $2 Veterans Cash scratch-off ticket, with a $20,000 top prize, is the perfect stocking stuffer.


The Veterans Cash instant game is a win-win for ticket buyers. One hundred percent of the game's net proceeds support organizations that serve veterans struggling with PTSD, homelessness, medical expenses, and access to long-term care or disability benefits.


Since then-Lt. Governor Quinn first championed and launched the program in 2006, Veterans Cash has awarded more than $10 million in grants to nearly 200 veterans' organizations statewide.


For more information on Veteran's Cash please visit To apply for a grant, please download an application at the Veterans Cash website.


For more information about IDVA and its programs, please visit the agency's homepage. To find out how you can help Illinois veterans, visit

IWAP Stands Ready For Vets, Families

The National Institute of Medicine estimates that 20 percent of the 2.6 million U.S. service members who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan have symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The holidays can be a difficult time for veterans struggling to cope with their experiences.


Now and throughout the year, the Illinois Warrior Assistance Program (IWAP) is a free resource that is available for veterans and their families. Veterans or loved ones can call to ask questions, be screened for PTSD or traumatic brain injury, and receive free follow-on counseling when needed.


"It is important for veterans to understand that seeking help for symptoms of PTSD is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength," said IDVA Director Erica Borggren. "The good news for Illinois veterans and their families is that there are confidential treatment options available so they can access the help they need and deserve."


For more IWAP information, please call 1-866-554-IWAP (4927) or visit

 Governor Kicks Off Cheer Basket Program

Earlier this week, Governor Pat Quinn joined Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs Director Erica Borggren and Illinois Lottery Superintendent Michael Jones to announce the state's partnership with the United Service Organization (USO) of Illinois and the Chicago White Sox to sponsor this year's Cheer Basket Program, a partnership to support the USO of Illinois "Families on the Homefront" program for servicemen and women.


The program will send 150 cheer-filled holiday care packages to Illinois service members and their families. Each Cheer Basket includes a $50-$100 Dominick's gift card, White Sox gear and Garrett's Gourmet Popcorn. A total of 150 Cheer Baskets will be assembled with the help of White Sox Volunteer Corp, USO staff, and Illinois Lottery/Northstar volunteers with 125 baskets for service members in need, while the remaining 25 will be shipped to the Great Lakes Naval Base to be distributed to the servicemen and women stationed in North Chicago, Ill.


The USO lifts the spirits of America's troops and their families. The mission of the USO is to enhance the quality of life of the U.S. Armed Forces personnel and their families and to create a cooperative relationship between U.S. military communities and involved or supporting civilian communities. The USO of Illinois is a civilian 501(c)(3) registered non-profit that is not government funded but is supported solely by the generosity of the American people. For more information about the USO of Illinois, please visit

Wood River Man Named Veteran Of The Month

The Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs (IDVA) has honored Bradley A. Lavite, a Wood River resident and US Army veteran, as its December 2012 "Veteran of the Month."


"Bradley Lavite not only served his country honorably, he has been tireless in his efforts to assist fellow veterans here in southwestern Illinois," said IDVA Director Erica Borggren. "He has been a true leader for Madison County veterans, advocating for better access to health care, employment, and legal assistance."


Lavite has held many positions during his 17-year military career, including service from 2003 to 2004 as a First Lieutenant and Convoy Commander during Operation Iraqi Freedom I and II with the 459th Transportation Company. Today, he continues his service in the US Army Reserves as Captain and Company Commander for Alpha Company 2-334th Infantry Battalion in Granite City, Ill.


Among his many personal and professional achievements, Lavite serves as Superintendent of the Veterans' Assistance Commission of Madison County, where he helps local veterans with emergency financial assistance, employment, and casework advocacy. Thanks in part to his efforts, Madison County has created a successful Veterans' Treatment Court (VTC), through which nearly 230 veterans have been screened, with with almost half formally enrolling and 40 successfully completing the program.


For more information on Lavite's military service and veteran support, see IDVA's press release. To nominate someone for the honor please visit IDVA's website at

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