Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs Newsletter

January 2013
In This Issue
Woman Vetrepreneurship Event on Tuesday, Jan 29
Webinar for Disabled Veterans about Illinois State Employment Opportunities
IDVA AmeriCorps Job Opportunity
Illinois Veteran Of The Month
Eastern Illinois University Receives Governor's Award for Excellence in Education
New Communications Manager for IDVA

Great Event- 

Women Vetrepreneurship Program Orientation 

If you're a woman veteran who is interested in starting or growing your own business, you won't want to miss the "Women Vetrepreneurship Program Orientation," presented by the Women's Business Development Center (WBDC), in partnership with the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs (IDVA), and sponsored by Overture Premiums & Promotions. The event, the first of five outreach events and the official launch of the Women Vetrepreneurship Program, will be held on Tuesday, January 29, from 6 to 8 p.m., at the Pritzker Military Library, 104 S. Michigan Avenue, in Chicago.  Women veterans are welcome to bring their children to this child-friendly event.   


The Women Vetrepreneurship Program is a unique program for women veterans who are pursuing self-employment or business ownership as a pathway to economic security, independence and empowerment. IDVA Director Erica Borggren and representatives from the WBDC will explain the program, which will create a women veteran's support infrastructure that will leverage existing resources to cover both business development and social service needs.

Program highlights include:

  • Proven WBDC business development training programs and services
  • Women Veterans' Affinity Group to connect participants in a meaningful, ongoing community and to educate and assist regarding benefits and support services
  • A network of partner-provided social services for women veteran support
  • No-cost child care services during program participation provided through the WBDC's child care business clients
  • Direct lending to eligible program participants to start or grow a business
  • Mentoring program pairing successful small business women with program participants

The program orientation is free of charge; registration is required and can be done  online. For more information, please visit or call (312) 853-3477, ext 670.


A nationally and internationally recognized women's business assistance center in its 27th year of operation, the WBDC provides a continuum of business development services to prospective and established women entrepreneurs including counseling, training, financial, certification and procurement assistance in Spanish and English. The mission of the WBDC is to provide services and programs that support and accelerate women's business ownership and strengthen the impact of women on the economy.  


 Webinar for Disabled Veterans about 

          Illinois State Employment Opportunities

  IDVA Seal Veterans' organizations and veterans with disabilities around the state are invited to participate in a free webinar about the Illinois Department of Central Management Services' Successful Disability Opportunities (SD) Program, which certifies people with disabilities for state employment. The webinar, scheduled for February 27, 2013, from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m., will provide information about the SD program. People with disabilities have one of the highest unemployment rates in Illinois, and the SD program can move people with disabilities to independence from state and federal benefit programs. There will be time to ask questions and handouts will be provided for future reference.


For people in your organizations who want to participate in the webinar themselves, they can use their own computer or go to a local library to do so. Libraries around the state have been asked to make the webinar available to their patrons.


Anyone interested in attending should email  who will provide instructions for signing into the program.  The webinar is sponsored by the Department of Central Management Services' Disability Hiring Initiative Committee (DHIC) and the Department of Employment Security.  The Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs is a member of DHIC. 


Accepting Applications For An Exceptional Full-Time Service Opportunity

IDVA has been selected to serve as a host site for the Points of Light Veteran Leader Corps, which is a specific AmeriCorps program that focuses on developing meaningful service opportunities and cultivating job readiness for veterans and military families.  Accordingly, IDVA is hosting a new position, IDVA Employment Support Specialist and Illinois Joining Forces Program Manager, to actively engage this critical mission and simultaneously provide an extremely well-rounded service opportunity.

This is a high-level, full-time, paid service opportunity beginning on March 25, 2013 and concluding on January 31, 2014.  The deadline to apply is 5:00 p.m. CST on Monday, February 18.  To view the full position description and submit an application, go to the AmeriCorps Portal at and click "Apply to Serve" and search for "IDVA Employment Support Specialist and IJF Program Manager." 

For more information on this opportunity, please contact Max Dulberger in the Office of the Agency Assistant Director at 312-814-5538 or


Chicago Woman Named Veteran Of The Month

Jan2013 VotM w D,IDVA

When Meosha Thomas joined the US Navy as a young 18-year old, she relied on what she calls her three pillars to support her as she embarked on what she hoped would be a full career in the Navy: her relationship with God, her mother and her tight ties with her community.  In 2009, her goal of a Navy career ended with an injury which caused her to be medically retired.  She found herself looking for a new start and a new way of helping others as a newly discharged veteran. 


At a ceremony at the Washburne Culinary Institute on the Kennedy-King College Campus in Chicago, Thomas expanded that list of pillars to include her service, and now her efforts in support of fellow veterans, as well.  Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs (IDVA) Director Erica Borggren was there to present Thomas, a Chicago resident and US Navy veteran, with a proclamation signed by Gov. Quinn and an Illinois State Flag, honoring her as the Illinois Veteran of the Month for January 2013.  The flag had been flown over the Illinois state capitol prior to presentation. 


"Meosha Thomas is a great example of our woman veterans and the value they add to our communities," said IDVA Director Erica Borggren. "Since leaving the Navy in 2009, she has consistently sought opportunities and venues to help other veterans and to make an impact.  Her resilience, commitment and contributions to our veterans have been invaluable."


A capacity audience attending the event agreed, honoring Thomas with two very moving standing ovations during the ceremony. 


As an Information Systems Technician for over 9 years, Thomas provided professional support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in a wide range of assignments in the Navy.  Following her honorable medical retirement due to injuries sustained in 2006, Thomas has continued to serve her country, local community and fellow veterans in various leadership capacities, including serving as an Veteran Employment Specialist at the Illinois Department of Employment Security, providing veterans with critical transitional and career readiness services, and in 2012, entering the position of Veterans Services Specialist at Kennedy-King College.


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



Eastern Illinois University Receives 

         Governor's Award for Excellence in Education 


Going above and beyond basic veterans' services while fostering a veteran-friendly atmosphere, Eastern Illinois University (EIU) has been chosen as the Fall 2012 recipient of the Governor's Award for Excellence in Education, the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs (IDVA) announced today.


"On behalf of Governor Pat Quinn, we salute the professional and constructive efforts of Eastern Illinois University to support its student veterans," said IDVA Director Erica Borggren. "Creating programs and policies that assist veterans entering or returning to higher education is one of our top priorities, and EIU has those great programs.  Their leadership demonstrates strong commitment to helping veterans and is a great model for others to follow.  They are making lasting and tangible commitments to helping veterans overcome challenges in education."


Among many outstanding attributes, EIU was recognized for its:

  • Veterans Transition Workshop, specifically designed to support and enhance the college experience of student veterans, enabling them to receive focused guidance pertaining to transitional matters, study techniques, time management skills, and on-campus opportunities;
  • Administrative, programmatic and financial aid policies that support and accommodate student veterans who enter active military service or military training during the course of an academic term, thereby enabling them to make up academic work without penalty;
  • Veterans Service Office that is an invaluable resource to the student veteran population on campus, providing a host of specialized services to service members, veterans and their families that address critical needs in the veteran community.

Previous winners include College of DuPage, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Northern Illinois University, and Western Illinois University.  The Governor's Award for Excellence in Education is presented in the spring and fall of each school year. For more information, including nomination materials, please visit the Governor's Award homepage at

New Communications Manager for IDVA  

Ryan Yantis pro pic

U.S. Army veteran Ryan Yantis joined the team to support the IDVA's effort to better reach and inform veterans, their families and the general public on the IDVA's mission and accomplishments.


A veteran of over 22 years, he brings a wide range of knowledge, skills and abilities to help better connect the IDVA with the target audiences.


For media queries, he can be reached at 312-814-0778 or by email at


Veterans are encouraged to contact their local Veteran Service Officers for questions relating to benefits.   



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