Veteran & Family Recreation and Wellness Fest
IJF Program Manager Position Open
Save the Date: Apr 29th
Veteran & Family Recreation and Wellness Fest
IJF Program Manager Position Open
Save the Date: Apr 29th


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: 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

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




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




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IJF Local Networking Events

We heard you!  The IJF Leadership team has heard from several IJF member organizations that desire greater in-person connection to and networking with other IJF organizations in their area. 

The IJF Leadership Team is now prepared to support local gatherings initiated by any IJF member organization. IJF members across the state are invited to host local in-person gatherings that provide:

  • Current IJF members with an opportunity to hear directly from one another about their current programs
  • New organizations with a venue learn about IJF and connect with this growing network
  • Organizational leaders with one-to-one relationship building and a chance to foster collaborative projects

Click here to learn more