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December 18, 2011

Governor Quinn Reminds Everyone to Honor Our Servicemembers This Holiday Season
Encourages Support for Operation Hero Miles; Making Annual Trip to Deliver Holiday Cards to Servicemembers Overseas

CHICAGO – December 18, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today joined United Airlines to encourage people throughout Illinois to support Operation Hero Miles, a program that benefits servicemembers who were injured overseas. Through the program, people can donate their frequent flyer miles and provide military families with a chance to visit their loved ones recovering in military hospitals around the world.

Operation Hero Miles is an extremely special program that gives military families the chance to be together – which is especially important during the holiday season,” Governor Quinn said. “I encourage everyone in Illinois to celebrate the holidays by donating unused frequent flyer miles to our Wounded Warriors and their loved ones.”

Organized by the Fisher House Foundation, Operation Hero Miles provides airline tickets to military families for travel related to a servicemember’s medical condition. Servicemembers on medical leave for treatment of an injury can also request a ticket to travel home. To date, the Operation Hero Miles program has issued more than 25,000 donated tickets, saving servicemembers and their families nearly $40 million. To donate airline miles, visit www.fisherhouse.org.

On Monday, Governor Quinn will make his eighth trip to visit wounded servicemembers at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and Fisher House in Germany. Landstuhl is often the first stop on a long road home for many soldiers injured in Iraq or Afghanistan. During the visit, Governor Quinn will present servicemembers, doctors and staff at the facility with thousands of holiday cards made by Illinois schoolchildren. The cards will be shipped to Germany through Chicago-based United Airlines.

Governor Quinn also highlighted a number of other programs that benefits Illinois’ Veterans and servicemembers.

The Illinois Military Family Relief Fund was drafted by then-Lt. Governor Quinn, passed unanimously by the General Assembly and signed into law in 2003. It established a check-off box on the Illinois income tax return that allowed residents to make tax-deductible donations directly to the fund. More than 35 states have passed legislation modeled after the Illinois fund. To date, the fund has distributed more than $13 million to Illinois military families to assist with the financial burden at home when a loved one is deployed overseas.

Operation Hero Miles, a $10 million capital program, assists Illinois Veterans and servicemembers in obtaining funding to own their own home. The new home financing package offers a forgivable $10,000 grant toward the purchase of a new home in addition to a mortgage tax credit up to $20,000 over the life of the loan.

For more information about these and other programs for our Veterans, visit OperationHomefront.org or call the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs at 217-782-6641 or 312-814-2460.

RAW TAPEGovernor urges support for veterans during holiday season; donation to Operation Hero Miles. Speakers include Governor Pat Quinn, IDVA Director Erica Borggren, Friends of Fisher House President Betty Stematis, Frieds of Fisher House Exec. Board Member Rich Flatley, United Airlines' Nicole Lee and Sgt. Major Tom Morrissey.


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