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Illinois Lottery tickets provide support to Illinois vets

By Devese “Dee” Ursery

dursery@timestribunenews.com 

Organizations supporting veterans in Madison and St. Clair Counties along with other counties throughout Illinois received a $700,000 endowment from the Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs to address veteran homelessness, post-traumatic stress treatment, workforce development, education, transportation training, and community development programs.

The Illinois Veterans’ Lottery Cash Grant Program allocates endowments from the sales of their Winter Riches Illinois Lottery tickets on a monthly basis. These funds ensure meaningful services to veterans and their families across the state of Illinois.

Citizens Helping Citizens, received a $100,000 grant that will provide for an overall transportation training program geared toward veterans in Madison and St. Clair Counties transitioning from military service. The training will feature Commercial Driver’s License Training and Freight Brokerage/Dispatch training.

According to Terry Prince, IDVA director and retired sailor of 31 years, Citizens Helping Citizens provides skills which are really helpful to veterans who are coming out of the military and want to get their CDL and get to work right away.

“Getting a job and having the ability to get a good paying job right away is a really important thing for people in that transition,” Prince said. “This grant program will train six veterans in the Madison County area to literally get their license and operate in commercial driving license space and potentially make up, in some cases, over $110-$115,000 a year in potential salary.”

The IDVA receives monthly allocations from the Winter Riches Illinois Lottery ticket sales mostly at the beginning of the term of the ticket, according to Prince. He explained that the ticket goes on sale early in the year and then the majority of sales are within the first several months. 

“We typically get anywhere from $1 to $2 million per year that we can dole out,” Prince continued.

Prince said there are over 2,000 organizations in the state of Illinois, be they public or private that support and service veterans, including Citizens Helping Citizens start with a good idea. 

The Veterans’ Cash Grant program provided funds this year for seven organizations, to Illinois veterans to obtain job skills, PTSD treatment, veteran homelessness and other services that help with their transition into civilian life. 

Besides Citizens Helping Citizens, Guardian Corps of America also received a $100,000 grant. That award would be used to purchase a vehicle to distribute food, clothing, health care kits, and sleeping gear to nearly 400 homeless veterans in Cook, DuPage, Will, Kane, and Kendall Counties. 

Renewed, Inc. was allotted $100,000 to be directed to workforce development for certification by the Illinois Restaurant Association for food handling and managing. The five-week course equips veterans for gainful employment in the food service industry.

Code Platoon received a $100,000 grant to provide 15-week immersive software coding boot camps and two evening and weekend boot camps benefiting 115 veterans in the Chicago area.

ReBOOT Recover received a $44,000 grant to address the increasing veteran behavioral health and suicide crisis by offering scholarships to 135 veterans and their families. The grant will cover course materials, childcare, and leadership training through ReBOOT Leadership Academy at ten locations throughout Illinois.

Fishing For Freedom was awarded a $25,000 grant to provide a day of tournament bass fishing to over 300 active duty servicemembers, veterans, and residents of the Quincy Veterans Home. The intent is to foster camaraderie and provide therapeutic outdoor recreational activities.

Soldier Scholar Veterans Home also received a $100,000 grant to provide stable housing for veterans at risk of homelessness, particularly those seeking to advance their careers through education by securing housing near educational institutions. A selected site is Loyola University Chicago, situated near a rail station connecting to Lovell VA Hospital, offering safe housing close to education and VA services.

“Our partnership with the Illinois lottery has provided important opportunities for veterans, family members, caregivers and survivors across Illinois,” Prince said. “The grants awarded to these programs reach veterans across the state with critical training and services that will support their efforts and our directly in line with IDVA’s mission to ensure veterans thrive in Illinois.”

The IDVA awards these funds through Veterans’ Cash Grants. Every quarter, IDVA’s committee reviews applications and awards grants to groups that have demonstrated proven need. Eligibility is open to government agencies, not-for-profits, veterans’ organizations, and tax-exempt entities currently providing veterans’ assistance or wishing to expand their services into veterans’ assistance. For more information on Veterans’ Cash Grants, visit:

https://www2.illinois.gov/veterans/programs/Pages/veterans-cash.aspx

For more information on the Illinois Lottery, visit: www.illinoislottery.com

 

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