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IJF Partners

Illinois Joining Forces Hosts Inaugural Community Showcase

Contact: Tamara Edwards tamara@tamaraedwards.co
Date: Friday, December 15th
Illinois Joining Forces hosts Inaugural Community Showcase
Statewide not-for-profit brings public-private network of military and veteran serving organizations together to improve services for Service Members, Veterans and their Families
CHICAGO – More than 60 Veteran-support stakeholders gathered at the Pritzker Military Museum and Library in Chicago on December 6th for the Illinois Joining Forces’ (IJF) inaugural Community Showcase. The event was held in an effort to bring military and veteran serving organizations and corporate partners together to improve services for Illinois’ service members, veterans and their families.
The program opened with welcome remarks from IJF Co-Chairs Kevin Smith and Steve Goodwin, and was followed by a 2018 IJF Progress Report from IJF’s Executive Director, Jaime Martinez and highlighted 2018 successes with new Growth and Wellness programs and the creation of IJF Veteran Support Communities throughout the state. Later, Martinez led an interactive panel discussion with Stephen Curda, Acting Director of Illinois’ Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA), and Erica Borggren, the former Director of IDVA and current VP of Customer Solutions at ComEd. The panel discussion, titled, ‘The Role of State Agencies and Resources to the Military and Veteran Community’ encouraged attendees to participate in the conversation about improving access to public and private services for veterans, and identify opportunities for greater collaboration and partnership.
Throughout the afternoon, the Showcase offered networking opportunities and a simulated micro-workshop, intended to further develop and integrate attendees with the reality of the challenges Illinois’ Veterans’ Services Organizations face every day.
In attendance were representatives from The McCormick Foundation, GPD Charitable Trust, Walgreens, ComEd, The Boeing Company, Edelman, The Road Home Program (Rush), Corporate America Supports You (CASY),
USO – Illinois, National Able Network, Bunker Labs, The Code Platoon, Student Veterans of America – Illinois, Dry Hooch Peer to Peer Programs, Pritzker Military Museum and Library, the United States Department of Veteran Affairs, Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs, and the Illinois Department of Military Affairs.
Martinez celebrated the success of the event, stating “IJF’s inaugural community showcase brought together business, government, and community leaders from across the Prairie State to focus on a singular goal: how we can better serve Illinois’ 650,000 Veterans and their families. We know that no one organization can do it all, and IJF remains committed to assisting military members and veterans as they navigate the processes of finding the organizations that can best meet their needs. Supporting community network models and focusing on aging veterans, rural veteran access, and empowering women veterans this past year could not be possible without the generous support of numerous private and corporate partners and their continued commitment to the IJF vision and model. The overwhelming response from the business and veteran-support community has been incredible and we look forward to continuing to build bridges to better serve our nation’s heroes in the future”

Cycling Across America to Support Veterans

Tracy R. Sefcik and Martin J. Conlon are the founders of Cross Country Cycle for Vets.  This heady cycling adventure across the lower part of the U.S. is designed to raise money for veterans.  All donations will go to the Gary Sinise Foundation which creates and supports programs that entertain, inspire, and strengthen military and veteran communities.  Tracy is a U.S. Navy veteran, and she tells us a little about herself, and the story behind Cross Country Cycle for Vets.

Although I’m no longer in uniform, I still want to express my support for my fellow veterans and 1st Responders. I feel that once you have served in uniform, you are always in uniform.  You take that oath for life. I would do it all over again if I had too with no hesitation.

I grew up in New Lenox, IL, and after school I joined the U.S. Navy, and served for 4 years.  After bootcamp in Orlando, FL my first duty station was Yokosuka, Japan aboard the USS Kittanning.  I also served at Coronado, CA, working with the Navy Seal Team. I was then a Navy spouse for 15 years.

I also come from a very long line of military veterans.  Just to mention a few, a 4th great-grandfather in the Revolutionary War, a 2nd great-grandfather in the Civil War, an uncle shot down over France during WWII who later became missing in action during the Korean War (7 Nov 1950), and my father being in the Navy on the USS Courtney.

Now for my next chapter in my life, I will be cycling across the United States with Martin. We started biking a few years ago in which we will be making this journey together and will face many challenges while riding across from San Diego CA, to St Augustine, FL. Mostly that big mountain range getting out of CA

On March 2nd, 2018, Martin and I will begin our Cross Country Cycle 4 Vets journey.  The trip will take us over 3142 of our great country, from San Diego, CA to St Augustine, FL.  All money raised goes to support my fellow veterans and 1st Responders through the Gary Sinise Foundation. We will be starting our journey from the flight deck of the U.S.S. Midway.  This ship has special memories of my Navy days in Yokosuka, Japan.  A big “thank you” to the Navy for letting us start our journey aboard the Midway, since my Navy journey started waking up next to you in Japan when I was stationed on the USS Kittanning.  We will then be guided through the streets of San Diego by the Memorial Truck driven by Dane Kaimuloa, to Ocean Beach Park to dip our tires in the Pacific Ocean, then off we go on the start of our journey to Florida.  As we arrive in St Augustine, we will be guided in by the AmVets Freedom Riders to end our journey by dipping our tires in the Atlantic at St Augustine Beach on May 6th.

 

Both Martin and I felt we needed to do something to support our veterans.  We wanted to find any way to help them with the challenges that some undoubtedly face today.  This is our way of shining a light, and letting them know that they are appreciated for all they do for us… for their sacrifices and unwavering commitment to our Nation.

We would like to thank all our sponsors, endorsements, and everyone that has donated to Cross Country Cycle 4 Vets in support of the Gary Sinise Foundation. Let’s keep those donations coming so we can exceed our goal of $50,000.

Donations can be made on our website: http://www.crosscountrycycle4vets.com/

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