The hunt for family relief for veterans -- no easy task
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By Pamela Althoff, state senator, 32nd
Artists often use optical
illusions to hide pictures within pictures. You know the ones I am
talking about. These are the pictures that appear to be one thing,
but if you look closely you see something else. Sometimes, no matter
how hard you look at the picture, you still can't see anything. It
becomes almost a personal challenge to see the hidden image. It is
frustration that ends only when that moment of illumination arrives
and you finally see what everyone else has been seeing.
The families of veterans are
experiencing similar frustrations in trying to track down the help
they need to stay afloat while their loved ones are serving
overseas. They know the benefits exist, but trying to find them is
even more frustrating and far more difficult than deciphering
optical illusions in a picture.
Many of the servicemen and women
serving overseas are part of the National Guard or the Reserves.
While they are fighting for their country, they are not home drawing
their regular paychecks, which are usually much more than what they
make while they are on active duty.
Family relief is usually just a phone
call away, but as many veterans told the Senate Republican Task
Force on Veterans, knowing where to call and where to find those
benefits is often a challenge.
Nearly every branch of the military
offers some sort of relief program. The state of Illinois has the
Illinois Military Family Relief Fund, which allows Illinois National
Guard and Reservists serving overseas to apply for a $500 grant. For
more information, call 1 (866) 524-4564.
Illinois Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka's
office offers the Operation Protect and Provide Program, which
provides loans up to $10,000 with an interest rate no higher than 3
percent. For more information, log on to the treasurer's site at
or call (217) 557-6436 or toll-free (866) 458-7327, ext. 7.
Organizations offer help, such as the
American Legion's Family Support Network. Grocery shopping, child
care, lawn care and fixing the family car are just some of the ways
the American Legion can help a military spouse. To obtain more
information on how the American Legion can help, log on to
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Another place to go is your local
Veterans' Affairs offices or other local veterans' offices.
To find your local Illinois Department
of Veterans' Affairs office, log on to
www.state.il.us/agency/dva/. You can also call (217)
782-6641 or (312) 814-2460.
It is my hope that the efforts of the
Senate Republican Veterans Task Force will lead to a kind of
one-stop shop for veterans to have easy access to the information
they need. If we put this information on the Web and in a brochure,
families experiencing financial trouble can look at the options
available to them from the privacy of their own home and have the
convenience of be able to go to one source for the information.
many options for veterans available. But what good is it to have
these programs if the people who need them cannot find them or do
not even know where to look for them? The task force will continue
to provide updates on these and other efforts to assist veterans. It
is important not only to provide these services and programs to
veterans, but also to make sure the people who need the assistance
get it. Improving veterans' services and publishing them is a
commitment this task force takes seriously.
Althoff, state senator]
Pamela Althoff represents the 32nd District, which is comprised
mostly of McHenry County. Prior to becoming a state senator, Althoff
served as mayor of McHenry. Her father was a veteran of World War