Illinois Dept. of Veterans' Affairs Newsletter            December 2013

Illinois Joining Forces Update

Summit Success and Open for Business to Military, Veterans and Families


The second annual Illinois Joining Forces Summit was held earlier his month at the Union League Club of Chicago.  The Summit was a great success, bringing together 225 leaders from agencies and organizations across Illinois.  Together, these organizations are working through Illinois Joining Forces to create a "no wrong door" system of support for Illinois service members, veterans, and their families. 


This Summit also marked the launch of version 2.0 of the IJF website, through which Illinois Service Members, Veterans, and their Families can better search for and connect directly with local support and services. There is no cost for these services and individuals do NOT have to sign-up to use the "Find Resources" section of the website to search for services and programs from IJF member organizations - or to receive help directly the IJF Support Team in finding the right resource. 


IJF Summit attendees heard from national leaders, learned about IJF membership changes and focus areas for 2014, and met with their respective Working Groups.  IJF's Working Groups have built good momentum over the last year, identifying and taking on gaps in services and support - from training community behavioral health providers, to creating a legal referral network, to developing financial education materials for service members. 

Need a Gift Idea? 


Vets' Cash Lottery Tickets!

THREE $20,000 Prizes at Large


It's not too late to grab some great quick holiday gifts or stocking stuffers - $2 Veteran Cash Lottery tickets - available state-wide at retailers.  The newest Veterans Cash Lottery ticket is a great way to support our Illinois Veterans, with 100 percent of proceeds going to benefit Illinois veterans' organizations across the state through the Veterans' Cash Grant Fund.  


The Veterans' Cash Grant Fund has allowed for more than $11 million in grants to 200-plus veterans' organizations statewide since its launch in 2006, and it is also available to receive direct donations online - a great end-of-year donation to help other veterans.


Feed the Meter!  

Statewide Disabled Parking Changes  


Veterans across the state should take note of upcoming changes in free parking for those with disability plates or a placard


Under current state rules, anyone with disability license plates and/or placards for their vehicle do not have to pay the parking meter for a disabled parking spot.  However, effective Jan. 1, 2014, new state law creates stronger requirements - and a new yellow/gray placard - for parking free of charge in areas with metered parking.    


After January 1st, all individuals who meet the existing disability criteria will still qualify for disability plates or a placard, which entitle them to park in accessible parking spaces. However, only those individuals who meet the new disability criteria will receive a new meter-exempt placard. (example left)


Veterans and others who believe they may qualify for the new yellow/gray handicap placard should contact the nearest Secretary of State office.  In the meantime, if you have only the standard blue placard, make sure you feed the parking meter come January 1st!



Great Additions to the IDVA Team!


New Administrator for the Manteno Illinois Veterans' Home


Following an extensive selection process, Lester E. Robertson Jr. of Auburn, Illinois, was appointed as the Administrator for the Illinois Veterans' Home - Manteno earlier this month.  His professional experience as an administrator for skilled-care facilities spans over 42 years, with the majority with skilled care facilities in Illinois and Missouri. He is a former owner of Robertson Healthcare, LLC, which owned two nursing facilities in Illinois. 
Most recently he worked with Families for Reform, an Illinois non-profit dedicated to improving care for residents in Illinois Nursing Homes.  The son and step-son of veterans, his passion for and interest in veterans will help him provide the highest standards of care for our Manteno residents.


IDVA Senior Program Manager:

Women Veterans, Gold Star Families & Illinois Joining Forces


The Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs was pleased to welcome Elisabeth Pennix as our new Senior Program Manager.  Elisabeth oversees the Department's efforts for Women Veterans, Gold Star Families, and Illinois Joining Forces.  


As an attorney, active-duty veteran, and current reservist with almost 10 years of practical experience, Elisabeth, a Minnesota native, brings great experience and leadership to three key areas of our operations.  She served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and as lead defense counsel at the US Naval Academy. 


Elisabeth is eager to hear from our women veterans, potential IJF member organizations, and Gold Star Families.  To best reach her, please call 800-437-9824 or email.


Did You Know? 


Leveraging increased outreach, improved training, and our new CyberVet electronic claims system, our IDVA Veteran Service Officers have secured an additional $2 million, compared to last year, in retroactive benefit claims for veterans like you.  Your New Year's Resolution?  Contact your local VSO and start your Fully Developed Claim.


There are immediate-fill positions at our Veterans Homes in Manteno, LaSalle, Quincy and Anna for nurses and nurses' assistants.  Visit to learn more and apply.


Do you know a veteran in need of long term care?  We have immediate openings at our Quincy Veterans' HomeVisit to learn more.  

Your IDVA Calendar  


Dec. 25     Christmas Day - State Offices Closed


Dec. 26     Kwanzaa Begins


Jan. 1       New Year's Day 2014 - State Offices Closed 


Jan. 9       Military Spouse Hiring Fair and Career Forum - Scott Air Force Base, IL

                 Veterans, Active Duty, Guard and Reserve are also welcome


Jan. 20     Martin Luther King Day - State Offices Closed    


Jan. 22     Veteran of the Month Ceremony - Kane County VAC Offices


Feb. 5      Governor's Award for Excellence in Education Ceremony 


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