Goodwill Industries of Central Illinois is teaming up with Lt. Col. (ret) Oliver North to honor local military personnel and raise money to help returning veterans find jobs, housing and support services. The Vietnam veteran, political commentator, military historian and best-selling author will be the keynote speaker at Goodwill’s 2010 Veterans’ Recognition Event, to be held Tuesday, November 9, at the Peoria Civic Center Ballroom.
“We’re thrilled that Oliver North has agreed to join us to honor the memory of his good friend, General Wayne A. Downing of Peoria, and lead us in thanking all the men and women of central Illinois who have served our country,” said Patty Fuchs, president and CEO of Goodwill. “We hope to build on the success of our 2008 event featuring Tom Brokaw, which raised nearly $100,000 for services to help veterans reconnect to our community.”
Those services include Goodwill’s Homeless Veterans’ Re-entry Program, which offers job training, computer skills and resume advice, and the General Wayne A. Downing Home for Veterans—the only one of its kind in the state of Illinois—which provides housing, food, counseling and access to schooling and job training for up to 10 veterans. In addition, Goodwill’s “Stand Down,” held at Peoria’s O’Brien Field in October 2009, provided more than 80 homeless veterans with free meals, showers, haircuts, winter clothing, health screenings, benefits counseling, housing and employment referrals and more. The 2010 Stand Down is scheduled for October 23 at O’Brien Field.
J.D. and Julie Comfort of Peoria will serve as honorary chairpersons for Goodwill’s 2010 Veterans’ Recognition Event. “Estimates tell us there are about 550 homeless veterans in Central Illinois today. These men and women made sacrifices for our country, and they need our support now,” said J.D. Comfort. “Goodwill has a long-standing commitment to helping veterans, and supporting this event is one easy way we can all give back to those who have given so much.”
A recipient of the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts and the Presidential Service Badge, North joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1968, retiring in 1990. He hosts “War Stories with Oliver North” on Fox News Channel and has written a number of best-selling books, including Under Fire, One More Mission, War Stories—Operation Iraqi Freedom, Mission Compromised, The Jericho Sanction, The Assassins and American Heroes. In 1990, North founded the Freedom Alliance to provide support for wounded combat soldiers and scholarships for the sons and daughters of service members killed in action.
Individuals and organizations interested in attending or sponsoring Goodwill’s 2010 Veterans’ Recognition Event should call the Goodwill administrative offices at (309) 682-1113 for more information. Individual tickets are $65, and table sponsorships are $1,500. Other levels of event and in-kind sponsorship are also available.
More information about Goodwill, the General Wayne A. Downing Home for Veterans and Goodwill’s other veterans’ services are available at http://www.goodwillpeo.org/