Bill Enyart has a long history of public service stretching back more than 30 years. He was most recently the Adjutant General of Illinois with a military rank of Major General. As Adjutant General, he was head of the Illinois National Guard and oversaw 13,500 troops (of which 1,750 were full-time employees) and 300 civilian employees.
As Illinois’ top military commander, Bill has had the sobering task of sending troops into combat zones as well as mobilizing troops for in-state disaster response. More than 500 troops were activated in Feb. 2011 to assist with motorist safety during a record ice storm. Just a few months later, another 450 troops were sandbagging in Southern Illinois communities to thwart flooding. The troops helped fill half a million sandbags for the effort.
Maj. Gen. Enyart facilitated unprecedented relationships with state and federal officials and helped change laws that help service members and their families, according to one Guard executive. He also grew a partnership program with Poland into an international model for cooperation and partnering with foreign troops.
He first came to the district and Scott Air Force Base in 1969 as an airman in the United States Air Force. Following an assignment in Okinawa supporting the Vietnam War effort, he returned to Southern Illinois and worked his way through college at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and political science, he attended the Southern Illinois University School of Law in Carbondale.
He then clerked for the law firm of Hunter and Schwartz (now Judge Bill Schwartz in Murphysboro) before starting his own law practice in Belleville. Shortly after opening his own practice, Bill joined the Illinois National Guard in 1982.
A year later, he married Belleville native Annette Eckert, who is now retired as a circuit judge. They have raised two sons: Dr. Jay Enyart, a Belleville chiropractor, and Alex Enyart, a third-year law student at SIU-Carbondale.
In 2000, Bill earned his Master of Science degree in strategic studies from the United States Army War College in Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.
Bill spent his early years in Central Illinois where he worked alongside his father on an assembly line at a Caterpillar plant to help pay for college. He also swept floors in a dime store where his mother worked.
“My father was a Navy firefighter who taught me early on the importance of service and integrity,” Bill said. “I believe the next voice representing us in Washington must be ready to fight for Southern Illinois and must share Southern Illinois’ values of hard work, honesty and fairness.”