Supermarket of Veterans' Benefits event scheduled for July
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will link Illinois veterans with info about benefits and job
[JUNE 2, 2005]
CHICAGO -- Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich announced
Tuesday that the state will host the "Supermarket of Veterans'
Benefits" on July 9, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., at Navy Pier in Chicago.
Veterans from across Illinois will have an unparalleled opportunity
to learn about state programs specifically designed for them, apply
for federal benefits, find out about job opportunities and get free
health screenings and multiple other services. Illinois Department
of Veterans' Affairs Director Roy Dolgos host a press conference in
the James R. Thompson Center to highlight the upcoming fair's
participants and sponsors.
"Our veterans put their lives on the line and gave up so much to
protect our freedom, and yet we have 1 million veterans in the state
of Illinois who are entitled to over $430 million in federal
benefits that they are not receiving," Gov. Blagojevich said. "That
has to change. The Supermarket of Veterans' Benefits will allow us
to bring thousands of our veterans and their families together in
one place where they can learn about the valuable resources and
services available to them. I hope that every veteran who comes to
Navy Pier on July 9 will get useful information about benefits,
health services, programs and job training without red tape,
confusing applications or frustrating delays.
"I wish to thank our
organizers and the private sponsors who have worked with our
Department of Veterans' Affairs to make this event possible," the
The Supermarket of Veterans Benefits is being organized by
Supreme Consulting Group, which produced a similar and highly
successful event last year in St. Louis.
Several businesses and corporations are sponsoring the
Supermarket of Veterans' Benefits through the Illinois Veterans
Foundation, a new not-for-profit organization set up recently by the
Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs to give corporations, other
foundations and private citizens an opportunity to assist the state
in reaching out to and helping our veterans.
So far, the July 9 event has garnered support from the McCormick
Tribune Foundation, Southwest Airlines, Hyatt Regency, UPS, Clear
Channel Communications, State Farm Insurance, Avis, Pepsi Co. and
WMAQ-TV NBC 5.
"We are planning the biggest benefits fair for Illinois veterans
in the state's history," said Roy L. Dolgos, director of the
Department of Veterans' Affairs. "We want to make sure that each and
every veteran in the state of Illinois who so bravely served their
country knows what benefits they're eligible for from both state
government and the federal government."
The benefits fair will provide information on
the many services and benefits that every veteran is entitled to,
from scholarship programs to medical coverage. The one-stop shop
will provide free health screenings and information about job
opportunities across the state.
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Since coming to office, Gov. Blagojevich has focused state
efforts on assisting Illinois veterans and those soldiers who are
currently on active duty. In his State of the State address in
February, he pledged additional funding to improve outreach to the
state's veterans and their families by increasing the number of
service officers by 50 percent within the Illinois Department of
Veterans' Affairs. The new employees' primary job responsibility
will be assisting veterans in applying for federal benefits.
Illinois veterans together receive $430 million less in federal
money than they should, based on the national average of benefits
per veteran. The new service employees will also serve as liaisons
between the state and the federal VA.
Last August, Gov. Blagojevich signed legislation (PA 93-0976)
increasing the monetary death benefit given by the Illinois
Department of Veterans' Affairs to families of soldiers killed in
Iraq and Afghanistan. Under the new law, the monetary compensation
was raised from $1,000 to $3,000. The state has paid $150,000 under
Gov. Blagojevich also signed legislation last year that
established additional death benefits for Illinois soldiers killed
in the Global War on Terror, making Illinois the first state in the
nation to offer soldiers additional monetary benefits besides those
provided by the federal government.
PA 93-1047 makes families of soldiers killed in the line of duty
in Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom eligible
for a death benefit from the state, varying from a minimum of
$118,000 to more than $250,000. The benefit will be adjusted over
the years to cover the cost of living. To date, more than $530,000
has been paid out under that benefit.
Veterans who want to find out more about the benefits fair can
call toll-free (800) 437-9824 or visit
Businesses or individuals interested in sponsorship opportunities
should call the toll-free number (877) 359-2294.
[News release from the governor's office]