On Saturday, October 18th, Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn was joined Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs Director Roy Dolgos and petition drive leader Kathy Miller, daughter of a World War II veteran, to celebrate the successful grassroots effort to re-open the 38-bed skilled care wing that had been closed for two years at Manteno, the closest veterans’ home to Chicago.
In May, Quinn participated in the rally to support the more than 765 ailing and aging veterans on long waiting lists to get into one of the Illinois’ four veterans’ homes. He also lent support to Miller’s petition drive, which eventually garnered more than 6,000 signatures and restored $1.3 million in funding to the home in Manteno.
“With Veterans’ Day coming up, we need to remember that we are indebted to the veterans from across Illinois who sacrificed everything at horrible places such as Ardennes, Normandy Beach, Inchon or Hamburger Hill,” said Quinn. “I salute dedicated advocates such as Kathy Miller who, through the power of petitioning, will no longer have to make a five-hour drive to visit her 92-year-old father currently residing at the veterans’ home in Quincy.”
Kathy Miller’s father – Edward Riley – served in the U.S. Army and fought in the 1943 invasion of Attu in the Aleutian Islands. Miller, of Aroma Park, faced the decision of moving her father out of the VA hospital in Danville or paying $3,000-a-month bills before finding an affordable place at the Veterans’ Home at Quincy.
“We are pleased and honored that Lt. Gov. Quinn is taking an active stance in addressing the veterans’ plight,” said Miller and fellow advocate Kankakee County Board Member Ann Bernard. “It is encouraging to know that our state office holders have taken an active interest and are listening to our concerns.”
Quinn has also worked with Sen. Debbie Halvorson (D-Chicago Heights) to reduce the waiting time at Manteno. Many Chicago-area veterans prefer going to Manteno because of the long distances their families would need to travel to visit them at other veterans’ homes in Anna or Quincy. There are currently 267 veterans awaiting admission to Manteno Veterans’ Home and all are accepted on purely a “first-come-first-served” basis.
The homes operate on an ability-to-pay basis, with residents paying a monthly fee based on income. The veterans receive room and board, medical care and recreation facilities. Each home is inspected and certified annually by the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs and is licensed by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Also joining Quinn was Sen. Lawrence M. Walsh; Rep. J. Phillip Novak (D-Kankakee); Rep. Mary Kay O’Brien (D-Coal City); Kankakee County Board Member Ann Bernard; Robert Scholl, Kankakee County Board; and Administrator Martin Downs, Manteno Veterans’ Home.
“Lieutenant Governor Quinn’s support in this issue has been critical,” said Bernard. “He has been working closely with state leaders to restore the funding. We applaud him for working hard to help the veterans while making our taxpayer dollars stretch further.”