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August 4, 2003

Governor takes action to provide job security for Illinois Guardsmen and Reservists
Signs bill protecting employment for public employees called to service

Aurora, Ill. – As the nation continues its military efforts abroad, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation that protects the job security of public employees in Illinois who may be called to military duty.


“As the sponsors of this legislation – Rep. Chapa LaVia and Sen. Viverito – know first-hand, the men and women of our armed services make the greatest sacrifice to protect our freedom.  When they are called away from their normal lives to serve their country, they should be able to focus on their duties without worrying about whether they’ll be able to support their families when they return,” said Blagojevich.  State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia is a retired Army officer on inactive ready reserve, and state Sen. Louis Viverito is a veteran of the Korean War.


The National Guard and Reservists play a critical role in the U.S. Department of Defense’s “Total Force” policy.  Now, more than any time since World War II, Guardsmen and Reservists are actively engaged in domestic and foreign military efforts, including the war on terror and the ongoing operations in Iraq.  As of July 30 of this year, there were 197,226 members of the National Guard and Reserve on active duty – approximately 4,000 of them from Illinois.


Under the legislation signed today, House Bill 3141, full-time employees of local units of government or school districts who are also members of the Armed Forces will be granted leave from their public positions for any period associated with military service.  During a military leave of absence, a public employee’s seniority and benefits will continue to accrue.  State employees already receive such protection, so the new law will not have an impact on the state budget.


In February, Blagojevich signed legislation establishing a trust fund to aid families of Guard members and Reservists that need emergency financial grants or general financial support to help make up the decline in household income that occurs when a wage-earner is called up to service.  The fund is financed through a volunteer “check off” on Illinois income tax forms.


The new military leave law becomes effective immediately.


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