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July 24, 2002

Governor Ryan Welcomes Home Troops from European Mission in Support of The Nation's War on Terrorism
Signs Bill Providing Reemployment Rights for National Guard Personnel Called to State Active Duty

CHICAGO -- Governor George H. Ryan today welcomed home members of the Illinois National Guard who have been on active duty in Europe for more than seven months. The soldiers have been part of Task Force Santa Fe, a force of nearly 2,200 National Guard personnel providing force protection and installation security at various locations in U.S. Army Europe.

¡§Your country called upon you, you answered the call and served with honor and distinction,¡¨ Governor Ryan said. ¡§On behalf of the people of Illinois I thank you for serving, but we are also thankful you are home, safe and sound.¡¨

The Illinois National Guard mobilized more than 1,300 soldiers for Task Force Santa Fe, the largest call up of Illinois National Guard personnel since the Korean War. Approximately 450 soldiers were among the first to arrive in Illinois today; the remaining 900 soldiers will be returning in separate elements, with all soldiers scheduled to be home by early September.

"The soldiers of the Illinois Army National Guard did what they always do when called on ƒ{ they answered the call to duty. They knew their mission and they set and achieved a superior standard in their performance of duty,¡¨ said Maj. Gen. David Harris, Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard. ¡§They gave personal sacrifice to answer the call and we are glad to have them home."

The soldiers returning home today are from several units of the Illinois National Guard including:

  • About 100 soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry based in Chicago at General Jones Armory.
  • More than 100 soldiers from Company B, 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry based in Elgin.
  • About 150 soldiers of Company A, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry based in Mattoon.
  • More than 100 soldiers of Company B, 2nd Battalion, 130th infantry based in Effingham.

During the welcome home ceremony today Governor Ryan also signed House Bill 4457, which provides reemployment rights for Illinois National Guard personnel called to State Active Duty. This legislation mirrors the job rights and reinstatement privileges as outlined in the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act afforded to active duty soldiers.

¡§This law will help you and the men and women who follow in your footsteps,¡¨ Gov. Ryan said. ¡§It gives you the same rights of re-employment when you are called to active duty that you have when you are called to federal active duty.¡¨

Under House Bill 4457 members of the National Guard called to state active duty have the right to be reemployed at the position he or she left, with the same status, seniority and wage increases that were earned during the member¡¦s time of state active duty by persons in similar positions. It also provides for rights in connection with other employee benefits, such as health insurance and provides for stays of civil proceedings, rights in connection with attendance and the payment of tuition to any state university or community college.


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