11/10/21 - Important Message from Secretary Hou - Veteran’s Day

Dear colleagues,

Ahead of Veteran's Day, we honor and appreciate Veterans for their service, sacrifice, and steadfast courage. Millions of American military veterans have honored us with their service, including our Veteran IDHS staff. Among the 1,100 Veterans on staff at IDHS, I want to recognize just a few members of our leadership team who continue to serve with integrity and devotion to the mission.

Robert Brock, Chief Financial Officer, tells us he has a sense of mission after 36 years of military. He served in the National Guard, 12 years in the army, and 24 years in the air guard. "The military helps you realize the world is bigger than just you, but every person can make an impact. It is in the military centers you. And the same is true for me here at IDHS. There is a deep respect for the mission of the organization. I have always been privileged in the military to have leaders that I was willing to follow, and the same is at IDHS. This is an organization that earns loyalty, and I am very proud to be a part of the IDHS family."

LaTanya Law, Assistant Director in the Division of Family and Community Services, says she was born to service mankind. She started in the military and the U.S. Army, stationed in Wuerzburg, Germany, for two years. She served during Operation Desert Storm and was a 94B (in her words, "aka Cook"). She says her service to her country was one of her most significant accomplishments.

"My military service taught me to defend those who are unable to defend themselves, fight for humanity and equality. Those beliefs inform my daily work at IDHS and my deep commitment to serving our customers. I believe I am a voice to those with no voice, those who are not heard even when they scream. I enjoy advocating for those who need it most."

On Tuesday, I presented testimony to the Illinois General Assembly alongside Donell Barnett, Ph.D., Deputy Director of Clinical Operations in the Division of Mental Health. Dr. Barnett also earned the title of Major Barnett in the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserves, and he is a combat Veteran (Iraq and Afghanistan) who served nine years active duty and continues as an active member of the U.S. Army Reserves.

Robert, LaTanya and Donell, along with so many others, demonstrate commitment and courage to causes greater than themselves - just as staff across IDHS do, day in and day out.

They have given the rest of us the invaluable gift of living safe, accessible, and at peace. Let's, please take a moment to thank all of our IDHS staff who served us so generously.

To build on care for our veteran colleagues and the military community we serve, IDHS serves veterans in multiple programs.

More than 3,000 veterans have been served this year with IDHS-funded substance use programs. Through the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS), IDHS currently serves 693 veterans with disabilities in the Home Services Program - which provides in-home assistance with the activities of daily living to people across Illinois. DRS also serves 280 veterans in the Vocational Rehab program.

Finally, the IDHS Division of Mental Health, in partnership with the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, is helping to lead the Governor's Challenge to Prevent Suicide, a national effort to uplift mental health support and preventative services for Veterans. This effort is designed to ensure veterans have full access to robust and quality mental health services. And of course, the division of Family and Community Services offers a range of supports to veterans in need of food, shelter, and medical assistance.

Today, we honor our veterans everywhere for their service-an act of generosity that we can never repay.

Thank you.

With gratitude,

Grace B. Hou