Illinois Lottery launches scratch-off ticket with proceeds going to veterans’ organizations

The Illinois Lottery along with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs held an unveiling of a new scratch-off lottery ticket in the Pine Lounge of the Illini Union Thursday, which will give 100 percent of the net proceeds to fund veterans’ organizations across the state.

The new $2 ticket called “Stars & Stripes” is part of an initiative launched in 2006 by Governor Pat Quinn called the “Veterans’ Cash Fund” which gives out grants from the proceeds to organizations that apply for money in order to help out veterans in a number of ways such as: Post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, research and treatment, homeless veterans, veterans with disability benefits, health insurance costs and long-term health-care, said Dan Grant, Illinois Director of Veteran’s Affairs.

“This is something that other states have asked us about and are looking at replicating,” Grant said. “They see this as a great way of reaching out to grassroots organizations who, in a lot of ways, are the first line of defense for veterans when they come back.”

The Veteran’s Cash Fund has raised $7.2 million since 2006.

“This has generated some money for programs to benefit veterans around the state that we haven’t been able to necessarily do,” said Chuck Zelinski, a veteran representing the American Legion.

Money from the grants has helped in a number of different ways including purchasing “creature comforts” for the five veterans homes in Illinois, said Zelinski. He said the money has helped purchase things such as workout equipment and other things that normally would not be able to be purchased without this program.

Another asset of the program is the ability to hand in $20 worth of used tickets, which the lottery will use to send out a care package to U.S. troops, said Tracey Manuel, manager of specialty tickets for the Illinois Lottery.

Organizations who want to apply for a cash grant to support veterans can apply online at the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs website, www.veterans.illinois.gov.