IJF Webinar 12-10-14
2014 IDSTF Report
IJFF signing article
IJF Webinar 12-10-14
2014 IDSTF Report
IJFF signing article


IJF October 2014 Newsletter



Illinois Joining Forces


Serving Service Members, 

Veterans and Their Families 

                                                                                   October 2014



Message from the Chairman


Greetings, Members! This month we are proud to welcome four new organizations to IJF: Lincoln Land Community CollegeMorton CollegeThe Robert Young Center for Community Mental Health, and The John Marshall School of Law Fair Housing Legal Support Center & Clinic. We can look forward to combining forces with them and their missions going forward. 

As we plan for next year's events and trainings, we are asking you to provide your critical input into our program planning. Please take a few minutes to complete this survey to help IJF move forward as a state-wide, public-private network servicing Service Members, Veterans and their Families. The survey will be open until November 15. We look forward to hearing your recommendations and suggestions!




In the weeks and months ahead, stay tuned for further organizational developments like the 2013 and 2014 Annual Reports to the Membership, 2015 Programming Schedule, and our bylaws being adopted by the Board of Directors.




Rodrigo Garcia

Board Chairman, Illinois Joining Forces 


IJF Training:  Helping to Hire Veterans- Event Highlights



The first joint IJF-National Able company-hiring training event was held in August.  Over 38 participants representing 16 companies attended; all hungry to find qualified veterans.


Expanding Member Outreach

Money Management International


Art Bilski shared that In the past 12 months, Money Management International (MMI) has had 137 visits to the Financial Literacy webinars and 58 of those visitors were unique ID's which means the visitors came back for more than 1 Webinar. By creating a unique link from the IJF website to MMI financial literacy webinars, MMI was able to demonstrate how IJF has helped to expand their outreach.


IJF Network in Action

Becoming a Military Friendly School


IJF member, Lake County Veterans and Family Services Foundation, with collaboration from Lake-McHenry Veterans and Family Services, Lake County Health Dept. Trauma Treatment Program, the Naval Station Great Lakes School Liaison program, and Military One Source hosted an event. The event was purposed to bring the education community into the fold of trauma-informed providers being developed in Lake County through the work of IJF members Lake County Veterans and Family Services Foundation and Lake-McHenry Veterans and Family Services.  Transformation of the community to be ready, willing, and able to support its SMVF residents is the common mission for both of these organizations. 


110 attendees included:

25 schools/teachers/tutors

7 community/youth programs

7 medical program reps

3 police/legal org reps

29 clinicians

5 military reps

18 service members or veterans

11 family members

5 others/unknown

 Fall -In Event  

On September 18, IJF-member organization, National Louis University, in partnership with members of SVA-IL, College of DuPage (COD), Cantigny Park, VAC, Lewis University and DMRC, sponsored an event for Veterans and Military Family members (VMF) to meet and greet veteran-support networks and other college-bound VMFs.   Over 57 SMVF attended, welcomed by over 35 vendors.



We at IJF are proud to learn of the difference that Illinois Joining Forces has made for its member organizations and the veterans, service members and their families that we serve.  Have a success story to share?  Email us at info@illinoisjoiningforces.org.


IJF Online Website Training


11/12/14 Webinar

12/10/14 Webinar


For any further questions or technical help with the website, contact Anthony Bellin at

info@illinoisjoiningforces.org or 217-524-3068.


Interested joining the IJF Team?


The Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs (IDVA) is pleased to announce that four openings for AmeriCorps positions associated with the Points of Light Veteran Leader Corps.  We are actively seeking qualified applicants (civilian or veteran) to apply for these high-level, full-time service opportunity in our downtown Chicago and Springfield offices.



The Veteran Leader Corps is a unique AmeriCorps program dedicated to supporting organizations that are developing meaningful service opportunities and cultivating job readiness for veterans and military families.  IDVA's Veteran Leader Corps members will actively engage this mission, providing critical assistance to veterans confronted with challenges related to joblessness, housing, reintegration, and other issues.


Note that these are not state jobs; it's a service opportunity dedicated  to supporting and generating positive outcomes for the veteran community.  The position starts on Nov. 3, 2014 and concludes on Sept. 4, 2015, with the possibility to renew for 11 additional months.




  • A living allowance of $12,100 for 11-month service period
  • Health and dental insurance;
  • Possibility of AmeriCorps Education Award upon successful completion of service, $5,550 prorated for length of term;
  • Child care subsidy,if eligible;
  • Participation in Points of Light Corps Member Training Institute; and
  • The opportunity to work with senior Department managers, to lead people and high-impact projects, and to build professional skills in a number of specialized areas.

HOW TO APPLY:  Individuals looking to apply must submit their application through the My AmeriCorps Portal webpage


FOR TECHNICAL HELP APPLYING ONLINE:  Contact the National Service Hotline directly at 1-800-942-2677.  


For more information on IDVA programs and services related to the position, visit IDVA's website, or contact Elisabeth Pennix at 312-814-7258.  




Events You Don't Want to Miss



November  7     Moral Injury 


November  10   

Honoring Women Veterans Reception & Dinner


November  18   Veterans Retirement Readiness




For a .pdf version of this newsletter, please click here!


Print, share and forward to friend and others who might benefit from learning more about Illinois Joining Forces.













Members - Submit Your Story


We want to share your organization in action. Please submit your story in the following format:

  • Challenge (Why did the SMVF/Organization contact your organization)
  • IJF in Action  (How did IJF resolve the issue)
  • Result (What benefit did  the SMVF/Organization receive)

Please email your stories to: info@illinoisjoiningforces.org.  Of course, if you need support or if you have any questions, please contact the IJF Team (Liz, Anthony, and Kathy) at info@illinoisjoiningforces.org



You are receiving the Illinois Joining Forces (IJF) newsletter because of your work on behalf of service members, veterans and their families in Illinois. Through this newsletter, we will share updates on the work and growth of IJF, highlight exciting projects underway, and provide information about how you and your organization can get more involved.




Illinois Joining Forces (IJF)

100 West Randolph

Suite 5-570

Chicago, IL 60601-3219

Please add us to your address book


Copyright (C) 2013 Illinois Joining Forces (IJF). All rights reserved.






Facebook   Twitter   LinkedIn   Pinterest


June 2014 Newsletter



June 2014

In this Issue

IJF Training:

Military Immersion –

Registration Update

IJF Network in Action

IJF Working Groups in Action:

Veterans as a Strategic


Women Veterans Think Tank

IJF Website Tip: Topical Tags

IJF Volunteers in Action

About IJF

IJF is a statewide network of veteran- and military-serving organizations working together to better serve Illinois' service members, veterans and their families.

IJF Training: Military Immersion -- Registration Update

Registration is now open! Will you attend -- or who will you send?

IJF’s Military Immersion Training is a great opportunity to learn first-hand about military culture. Our Illinois National Guard partners are planning a full experience including a barracks stay, morning physical fitness training, and exposure to training on everything from vehicle rollovers to IED’s. You’ll also receive training from the IJF team regarding military lexicon, rank structure, veteran benefits, and more.

If you are interested or have staff members that would benefit from this 2-day Military Immersion Training, please take the initial screening survey to get started! (or copy and paste https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/N7MPPYS into a new browser window)

Once an individual submits a completed screening survey, those individuals are emailed a Registration Form which they will mail to us with their $45 registration fee. This fee covers the costs of all meals and your boarding will be provided free at the Illinois National Guard training facility.

Registration is limited to 100 participants and will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Register and stay tuned for more details!

To access the Training Agenda, please click here!

IJF Network in Action

No Wrong Door This Spring, Janice Laging of the Illinois National Guard’s Family Assistance Center in Crestwood learned of the urgent financial need of a Korean War veteran’s widow. After struggling through six different attempts to find assistance for the widow, she reached out via the IJF community and found the right resource and made an immediate difference.

Bringing Boots to Ground Last month, the team at IJF member American Red Cross learned of a veteran family’s need for assistance in moving into their new home. Through local relationships built in IJF Local Collaborative, the Austin Community Action Team, the IJF member community rallied. Together, the American Red Cross, Austin Community Action Team, Dryhootch, and Easter Seals Veteran and Military Family Support Services brought boots to ground to assist this family.

Expanding Member OutreachThe National Veterans Art Museum has proudly called Chicago home since 1981. In addition to shows and exhibits of veteran-produced art, NVAM has also periodically offered art therapy to veterans struggling to cope with their military experiences. In recent years, NVAM Executive Director Levi More has sought to grow this art therapy aspect of NVAM’s service to veterans.

May 2014 IJF Newsletter


In this Issue

IJF in Action: 

    Behavioral Health Working Group

IJF Training: 

  Military Immersion -- Registration Update

IJF Website Tip:

 Receiving Referrals

Congrats & Thanks:

 IJF Awardees

About IJF

IJF is a statewide network of veteran- and military-serving organizations working together to better serve Illinois' service members, veterans and their families.




IJF Team

Elisabeth H. Pennix

Senior Program Manager

IJF, Women’s Veterans, Gold Star Families

Anthony D. Bellin

IJF Program Manager (Springfield)

Veterans Leaders Corp


Kathy Johnson

IJF Program Manager (Chicago)

Veterans Leaders Corp





Members – Submit Your Story

We want to share your organization in action. Please submit your story in the following format:

  • Challenge (Why did the SVMF/Organization contact your organization)
  • IJF in Action (How did IJF resolve the issue)
  • Result (What benefit did  the SVMF/Organization receive)

Please email your stories to: info@illinoisjoiningforces.org


IJF in Action:  Behavioral Health Working Group


The Challenge: When we launched IJF, it was with the promise that the relationships built via this robust public-private network could make a real difference for our member organizations and the veterans they serve.


That has very much been the case for Bob Curry, Founder and CEO of Dryhootch of America.  Bob’s team serves veterans in its Dryhootch coffee shops, where they provide real, ongoing relationships and peer mentoring.  Long a successful organization in Wisconsin, Dryhootch had been seeking to expand its unique veteran support model to Illinois.


IJF in Action: Bob connected early on with the IJF network, joining the Behavioral Health Working Group and building a network of Illinois-based partners. 


The Result: Thanks to those relationships, DryHootch will shortly be opening its first Illinois-based coffee shop for veterans at the Austin Community Center in Chicago – with more locations to hopefully follow shortly in Aurora, Lake County, and elsewhere in the Chicagoland area.


We at IJF were proud to learn of the difference that Illinois Joining Forces has made for DryHootch and the veterans it will soon serve here in Illinois.  Have a similar story to share?  Email us at info@illinoisjoiningforces.org.


IJF Training:  Military Immersion -- Registration Update


We’ve been very encouraged at the high level of interest in our previously announced “Military Immersion Day” training!  As a refresher, this training will take place July 23rd-24th at the Illinois National Guard’s Marseilles training facility.  Non-veteran employees of IJF member organizations are encouraged to attend, with registration limited to 100 participants.


Many of you have asked about registration.  The first step is completing the initial screening survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/N7MPPYS.  As a friendly reminder, veterans will not be eligible to attend this training since they have already been able to experience what the military has to offer.


Once an individual submits a completed screening survey.  Those individuals will be contacted directly by an IJF Admin Team member and provided with a hyperlink to the event registration page where they will formally register and pay a registration fee.  


The next step will be to complete any associated documents or waivers.  Registration will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis.  Please stay tuned!

IJF Website Tip:  Receiving Referrals


Referrals on the IJF website are starting to pick up!  We’d like to make sure you are equipped to respond to referrals that you receive to assist service members, veterans, and their families.  For a quick “how-to” guide on managing referrals on the IJF website, click here.


Also, please note that you can set up your IJF profile so that multiple staff members receive notification of a referral.  If your organization has many staff members that work directly with veterans, referring the veteran to the individual that will service can help ensure the fastest response time.  To request additional referral recipients, please send us an email at info@illinoisjoiningforces.org.


Events You Don’t Want to Miss


May 14

Military and Veterans Law Lunch and Learn Program: Veterans 101 Webinar


May 20

Women Veteran Think Tank Meeting


May 24

Military Kids Horse Camp


June 5

Veterans As Strategic Assets Symposium


Congrats & Thanks:  IJF Awardees


Congratulations to the IJF member organizations recognized in our first round of “IJF Member Activity Recognition” awards.  Utilizing the IJF Activity Recognition matrix, these member organizations found multiple ways to benefit from and contribute to the IJF community during the first quarter of 2014. 

We were pleased to present each member organization with a Certificate of Recognition last month. Please join us in congratulating the following Awardees: 


  • A Safe Haven Foundation
  • American Bar Association
  • Army OneSource
  • ChildServ
  • ConnectVETS.org
  • Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL)
  • Family Assistance Center – Bartonville
  • Health & Disability Advocates
  • Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs – JRTC
  • Illinois Dept. of Veterans' Affairs - Lake County


  • Illinois Joint Family Support Assistance Program
  • Illinois Military Youth Program
  • Kids Rank Club
  • Lewis University
  • Lincoln College of Technology
  • Money Management International
  • National Louis University
  • Novadebt
  • USO of Illinois


Interested in how to add your organization’s name to the list?

Click here to learn about the many ways to be involved with the IJF Community.


Update 2014 legislation for IJFF

Please Click Here for the update to the proposed legislation for IJF.

2014 Legislation Letter to Members

Please Click Here for the letter sent to IJF members concerning the proposed legislation for IJF.

What's New!


Illinois Joining Forces


Serving Service Members, 

Veterans and Their Families 









Military Immersion Training July 23-24


We are happy to announce that Illinois Joining Forces, in collaboration with the Illinois Department of Military Affairs and Veterans' Affairs, will be hosting a 2-day Military Immersion Training from July 23rd - 24th, 2014.


Where will the training be held?

When is the training?                                                                       

  • July 23 - 24, 2014

Who can register?

  • Non-veteran employees of IJF member-organizations will have priority, otherwise, members of the Illinois community at-large.  

What will this training encompass?

  • A comprehensive Military 101 Cultural Competency training plus a full day of military immersion training and exercises.

How can I register?

  • Registration will be opened at a later date once the logistics and operations plans have been approved; there will be a modest cost for meals for attendees.

For more information contact IJF Program Manager Elisabeth H. Pennix at:

Elisabeth.Pennix@illinois.gov or (312) 814-7258.  We look forward to seeing you this summer! 



Get Involved!  Reminder For Member Organizations


With the IJF website running well and Working Groups meeting regularly, there is ample opportunity for all members to plug in and benefit from IJF collaboration.  This edition of our newsletter has great examples of IJF members doing just that.


Beginning April 1st, the IJF Support Team will begin implementing the "Member Activity Recognition" program that we previewed at the December IJF Summit.  Many of our member organizations have been heavily involved in IJF and have helped spread the word to veterans and other organizations.  We look forward to recognizing you soon!


Remember, there are lots of small ways to be involved in and support IJF; click here for a full listing of ways and for details on the Member Activity Recognition program.


Also, beginning May 1st, the IJF Support Team will begin its first annual assessment of IJF member activity.  We at IJF have long said that we'd rather be small with an active membership than large with an inactive membership.  If, as a member organization, you have never updated your web profile, attended a working group meeting, posted an event on the IJF website, or logged a referral on the IJF website, now is a good time to start! 










"No Wrong Door" in Action


One of the primary goals of Illinois Joining Forces is to create a "No Wrong Door" system of support for Illinois service members, veterans, and their families.  Both through the IJF website and through the relationships that IJF has built, we're seeing the impact of the collaborative approach in veterans' lives.


Last month, for instance, IJF Senior Program Manager Elisabeth Pennix learned of a homeless veteran in Algonquin who was struggling to find employment.  She referred the case to the Chairs of IJF's Homelessness & Housing Working Group and the Employment Working Group.  That resulted in several calls directly to the veteran directly from IJF member organizations that provide relevant services.  Within a month, the veteran has attended an orientation at the National Able Network.  Less than a month after that, he started employment at a call center operation on the west side of Chicago.  Our Homelessness & Housing Working Group continues to stay in touch with the veteran to ensure he is safely housed as he finds his feet in his new job.


Success stories like these are more and more common at IJF these days.  Thanks to all of our member organizations for your hard work to make it possible!


Share your IJF Success Stories with us!



Working Groups in Action: 

Veterans as Strategic Assets events


For months, the IJF Education and Employment Working Groups have been planning a major "Veterans as Strategic Assets" (VSA) initiative, aimed at equipping both employers and student veterans to promote veteran employment, as well as connecting them with each other.  VSA has involved several events for veterans and employers, as well as a major survey sponsored by the Edelman Group to better understand employers' perceptions of veterans.


Last month, the first VSA event was held at The Pritzker Military Library & Museum, where 35 employers and more than 80 veterans benefiting from an evening of panel sessions and networking. Smaller but equally successful VSA events were later held at Western Illinois University, Southwestern Illinois College, and Northern Illinois University.


By far the largest IJF Working Group endeavor to date, VSA involved the efforts - from funding and hosting, to presenting and mentoring, to recruiting and publicizing -- of dozens of IJF members.  Those members brought more than 120 companies, schools, and support organizations to the table to help benefit veterans.  Roman Ortega Jr., the veterans services coordinator at Lewis University and active member of the Working Group,  took the lead to ensure that the events were impactful and sustainable.  


Hundreds of student veterans attended the VSA events.  One of those was Riley Wright, pictured above, a student at National Louis University.  She admitted that she was "reluctant to boast [her] veteran status before the event," but said the event made her "want to get more involved in the veteran community."


At the Pritzker Military Museum & Library VSA Event, Wright, who served as an Army Military Police Officer, met with a representative from The Mission Continues. She is now pursuing a fellowship with the organization in hope to support veterans through non-profit work.


"I'm proud of my military experience, but I'm not looking for any recognition," she explained, "On the other hand, I have many skills that can benefit my community."


To learn more or get involved, please contact either  Amy Sherman or Paul Knudtson.



Working Groups in Action:

Women Vets Think Tank


The IJF Women Veterans Working Group is putting together a Women Veterans Outreach Think Tank to be convened in Chicago in May, with specific dates and locations to be determined.  The intent is to bring together all kinds of organizations that serve women veterans for a focused conversation on best practices in outreaching to and effectively engaging women veterans. 


If you are interested in joining this conversation, please contact the Working Group Chair, Nicole Mandeville of the Women's Business Development Center, at 312-853-3477. To join the Women Veterans Working Group in the meantime, simply update your member profile to reflect your involvement in this newer Working Group at www.illinoisjoiningforces.org

Remember, you can affiliate with up to three IJF Working Groups. 









IJF Training Committee 


One of Illinois Joining Forces' priorities for 2014 is increasing the military cultural competence of IJF members and of community providers at large in Illinois.  To help us do that, we're launching an IJF Training Committee, which will help create targeted "Military/Veteran 101" trainings for IJF Working Groups to offer to their members and to their respective civilian providers (law enforcement officials, behavioral health providers, physicians, educators, etc). 


The newly constructed Training Committee held its first meeting on Friday, March 28th and will continue to meet regularly in the months to come.    


Any IJF member interested in helping to shape the content of IJF "Military/Veteran 101" training sessions is welcome to join.  For more information contact Elisabeth Pennix at Elisabeth.Pennix@illinois.gov




You are receiving the Illinois Joining Forces (IJF) newsletter because of your work on behalf of service members, veterans and their families in Illinois. Through this newsletter, we will share updates on the work and growth of IJF, highlight exciting projects underway, and provide information about how you and your organization can get more involved.




Illinois Joining Forces (IJF)

100 West Randolph

Suite 5-570

Chicago, IL 60601-3219

Please add us to your address book


Copyright (C) 2013 Illinois Joining Forces (IJF). All rights reserved.


 Anthony Bellin               217-524-3068




Facebook   Twitter   LinkedIn   Pinterest