To the editor:
More front-line troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are National Guard member and reservists now than ever, including 9,750 troops from Missouri. Sadly, many families of citizen-soldiers face declining household income since the breadwinner's military pay is often less than his civilian salary. Many employers won't cover the difference, so some families face unexpected financial hardships.
The Illinois Military Family Relief Act created a check-off on state income-tax forms enabling taxpayers to voluntarily donate to a trust fund to provide assistance for items such as rent or groceries. Already, $2.7 million has been distributed to 5,012 Illinois military families.
Since the fund was launched, nine more states have created similar funds. Legislation is pending in 21 states, including Missouri. Thanks to the leadership of state Sen. Harry Kennedy, state Rep. Jon Dolan and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, Missouri may soon have its own way for citizens to salute those who serve.
Please contact Gov. Matt Blunt and your local legislators to urge approval of Senate Bill 12, Senate Bill 295 and House Bill 437 creating a military family relief fund in your state. For more information, see www.OperationHomefront.org.
PAT QUINN, Lieutenant Governor, State of Illinois, Springfield, Ill.