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‘Operation Rising Spirit’ sends letters to Illinois veterans for the holidays

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(The Center Square) – Spread some holiday cheer this season by being part of “Operation Rising Spirit” and sending a card or letter to a veteran in one of Illinois’ five veterans homes.

Director Terry Prince of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs says vets are really moved when they feel support from folks in the community.

“This is a way to let veterans know that we really appreciate the importance of their service,” Prince said.

Illinois has five state veterans’ homes: in Anna, Chicago, LaSalle, Manteno and Quincy. Many residents are older vets who enjoy getting mail and feeling the connection that cards and letters bring.

Last year, Prince read one letter from a child who sent a drawing with a note that said, “I don’t know who you are, but I would not be here without you.”

The care homes use the cards and letters as decoration in common rooms and in patients’ rooms.

“The letter writing tells veterans, ‘Hey, we’re here for you. We’re thinking about you.’ And it keeps the knowledge of what our veterans have done to ensure our freedom,” Prince said.

The letters and cards come from individuals and from classroom projects and scout troops and church groups, Prince said. Last year, Operation Rising Spirit received 5,000 cards and letters distributed to the 700 veterans in Illinois’ five state care homes.

“We put them up all over the dining facilities, all over their rooms … just like you would do at your house,” Prince said.

Send cards directly to the local facilities or: c/o Crystal Womack, The Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs Central Office, 833 South Spring Street, Springfield, IL 62794-9432

Notes may also be sent directly through the IDVA website.

Another way to support Illinois veterans during the holiday season is to buy a $2 instant win Winter Riches Illinois Lottery ticket wherever lottery tickets are sold. One hundred percent of the profits go to support veterans services. Holiday lottery ticket sales raise more than $21 million for Illinois veterans services.

Illinois is ranked 10th in total veteran population density in the US at 587,000 strong. Around 147,000 veterans come from minority groups. Forty-six percent of the veterans are aged 65 and older.

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