Service in the past to preserve the
By Sen. Adeline Geo-Karis, 31st District
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One of the greatest
challenges facing Illinois, as well as other states, is the shifting
nature of both military conflict and the composition of the military
As evidenced by the conflicts in
Afghanistan and Iraq, U.S. military forces remain unchallenged in
their ability to conduct successful military operations. In both
conflicts, the American military quickly defeated an opposing
military force, leading to the rapid collapse of brutal regimes that
had persecuted their own citizens for years.
It is estimated that approximately
150,000 National Guard and Reserve members are currently on active
duty, with approximately 55,000 deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and
the surrounding regions. National Guard and Reserve troops
constitute up to 40 percent of the military forces in Iraq.
The needs of these 21st-century
soldiers are significantly different from those of the inductees who
constituted the majority of veterans during the 20th century.
Illinois is taking steps to adjust to those changing needs, but more
changes will be required in the coming years.
Additionally, one of Illinois'
greatest challenges is meeting the needs of an aging veteran
population. Illinois must ensure that the services and benefits the
state offers satisfy the fundamental needs of 20th-century veterans.
This year Illinois has adopted
several legislative measures that serve the state's veterans, as
well as active Illinois military personnel.
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Today's military recruits must often
interrupt a civilian career when they are deployed overseas.
Legislation adopted this year reflects some of those changing needs
-- the importance of protecting service people from lost
opportunities on the job, increased costs for their own businesses
and increased costs as a result of having their education
interrupted. Illinois will need to continue to adapt to those needs.
Recognizing the selfless bravery of
those men and women killed in the line of duty, the General Assembly
has actively worked to accommodate the needs of veterans' families
who are recovering from the loss of their loved one. Several laws
have been passed this year that provide compensation to the families
of deceased veterans who actively fought in the Global War on
America's military is changing, and
Illinois must change with it in order to assure that services and
benefits serve the needs of state veterans. The Senate Republican
Caucus deeply appreciates the sacrifices that American veterans and
active military personnel have made, and continue to make, so that
we can enjoy freedom.
Our members will continue to work to
advance veterans' issues and ensure that the needs of all Illinois
servicemen and servicewomen are fulfilled.
Sen. Adeline Geo-Karis, 31st District]