'We try to do whatever we can for vets': Vernon Hills launches military honors banner program
Vernon Hills has added to its long-standing practice of assisting veterans by introducing a new way to honor residents on active duty or who have served in the military.
The village, in partnership with American Legion Vernon Hills Post 1247, has launched the Military Honors Banner Program to create and display banners honoring and recognizing military personnel from Vernon Hills.
If all goes as planned, several of the 5-foot by 30-inch banners could be affixed in a prominent stretch along Route 60 around Labor Day to fly through Veterans Day in November as a pilot of sorts.
The village has provided escorts home for those returning from combat and send offs for those just beginning their service as well as other measures like a fishing derby to benefit veterans at the James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center.
"We try to do whatever we can for vets," said longtime village Trustee Thom Koch.
The idea was prompted by Trustee David Oppenheim, who saw a similar initiative in Poughkeepsie, New York, and asked village staff to research a banner program for Vernon Hills.
Assistant Village Manager Jon Petrillo and Todd Renihan, commander of American Legion Post 1247, dug into the idea and presented their findings. The village board last week authorized the program and directed it be promoted by having banners of residents on active duty created.
The family or a sponsor could pay the $215 banner cost or officials could have it included in the village budget.
After being vetted and recommended by the American Legion, about a dozen banners would be flown from May -- designated as military appreciation month -- to Veterans Day. After that, the banners would be removed, given to the service member or their family and replaced with a new batch the following year.
Koch said he wanted to see active duty service members recognized this year in order to start promoting the program.
Oppenheim suggested the village fund 20 banners per year "and not put it on families or make it an advertisement for businesses."
A test banner featuring Renihan's daughter, Army Sgt. Morgan Renihan, a Vernon Hills High School graduate, will be installed this fall.
"It was the first banner made and will go up with the other ones around Labor Day," Petrillo said. "They look amazing in the air."
Petrillo said census data shows 511 veterans living in Vernon Hills.
"We are looking to identify any active duty service members from Vernon Hills," he added. "We'd like to honor you."
A description of the program and application is available on the village website, vernonhills.org/.