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Veterans

  • Memorial DayIn April and May of 1866, businesses closed, flags were at half-staff and Decoration Day or Memorial Day events for Civil War dead took place in numerous locations connected with the origins of Memorial Day. The Grand Army of the Republic established May 30 as Decoration Day in 1868, a day to decorate graves of Civil War dead with flowers, and state legislatures designated that date across the nation by 1900. After World War I, the day was expanded to include all who died in American wars, and in 1971, it became a national holiday and placed on the last Monday in May.

    The National Cemetery Administration originated during the Civil War, and the US now has 147 national cemeteries. The VA administers 131; 14 are maintained by the Department of the Interior, and two – Arlington and Soldiers Home – are administered by the US Army. More than 3.7 million war dead and veterans from the Revolutionary War to Iraq and Afghanistan are buried on more than 19,000 acres.

  • Senator BeltSPRINGFIELD – Service members and their spouses would have a designated liaison from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to ensure their licensure applications are managed efficiently under a measure from State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Cahokia).

    Currently, there is no 60-day expedited requirement for military members and their spouses, nor is there a military liaison position at the department. House Bill 1652 requires the department to expedite an application for a license from a service member or their spouse within 60 days after the date of application.

    “House Bill 1652 simply creates a smoother process for military personnel and expedites applications if they provide all the necessary documents,” Belt said. “Anything we can do to remove red tape and make the lives of our servicemen and women easier is worth doing.”

    HB 1652 passed the Senate Licensed Activities Committee this afternoon and is scheduled to head to the Senate floor for further debate.

  • Senator BeltSPRINGFIELD – Veterans’ families and cemetery associations will be awarded an additional $25 to support the cost of transporting and erecting a veteran’s headstone or memorial marker under a proposal sponsored by State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Cahokia).

    Currently, families and cemeteries are only awarded $100 to pay for the cost of transporting and erecting a veteran headstone or memorial marker.

    “Though there is no amount of money we could pay our dedicated veterans equal to the sacrifices they have made for our country, we can acknowledge that funeral costs have gradually increased over the years,” Belt said. “Veterans’ families had to watch their loved ones leave for battle, and it shouldn’t be a problem for us to award them more when they are laying their loved ones to rest.”

    The Senate approved the measure today. The bill moves to the House for consideration.

  • VeteranSPRINGFIELD – More veteran-owned businesses would secure state contracts under a measure sponsored by Assistant Majority Leader Tony Munoz (D-Chicago).

    “We need to do our best to foster veteran-owned businesses in our state,” Munoz said. “This is a valuable commitment to veterans who are establishing themselves after serving our country.”

    Senate Bill 1680 allows chief procurement officers to set aside a fair proportion of construction, supply or service contracts for veteran-owned businesses, and was approved by the Senate on Thursday.

    Currently, state agencies have a goal of awarding at least 3 percent of state contracts to veteran-owned businesses.

    In order to be considered a veteran-owned or disabled veteran-owned business, it must be at least 51 percent owned by one or more veterans or service-disabled veterans.

    The proposal heads to the House consideration.

  • VeteranSPRINGFIELD – More veteran-owned businesses would secure state contracts under a measure sponsored by Assistant Majority Leader Tony Munoz (D-Chicago).

    “Setting aside contracts for veteran-owned businesses ensures that we are spending state dollars on supporting our veterans as they work to establish lives after their service to our country,” Munoz said.

    Senate Bill 1680 allows chief procurement officers to set aside a fair proportion of construction, supply or service contracts for veteran-owned businesses, and was approved by the Senate Executive Committee on Wednesday.

    Currently, state agencies have a goal of awarding at least 3 percent of state contracts to veteran-owned businesses.

    In order to be considered a veteran-owned or disabled veteran-owned business, it must be at least 51 percent owned by one or more veterans or service disabled veterans.

    The proposal heads to the full Senate for consideration.

  • Senator BeltSPRINGFIELD – Veteran families will receive an additional $25 for the cost of transporting and erecting a veteran headstone or memorial marker under a proposal sponsored by State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Cahokia).

    Currently, families only receive $100 to pay for the cost of transporting and erecting a veteran headstone or memorial marker.

    “We must always recognize and respect the service of those who keep us safe,” Belt said. “Veterans went out and fought for our country, and some lost their lives in the line of duty, so giving the families additional assistance is the least we can do. As costs for services and memorials go up, we should periodically make sure our assistance does as well.”

    Senate Bill 1244 passed the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee this afternoon and is scheduled to head to the Senate for further debate.

  • State Senator John Mulroe speaks while Gov. JB Pritzker and others attend the topping off ceremony of the newly-renovated Chicago Veterans Home in Chicago, March 15, 2019.“This day should have come sooner.”

    CHICAGO – State Senator John Mulroe (D-Chicago) released the following statement today after attending the topping off ceremony of the Chicago Veterans Home after long delays in the project’s completion.

    “This marks a major step forward in our efforts to provide the best care possible to the men and women who served our country,” Mulroe said. “This day should have come sooner, but rather than focus on the past, I want to look forward to seeing this facility's completion.”

  • bennett 030519SPRINGFIELD – Spouses and children of veterans and active duty service members will soon be able to take advantage of the military service discount program under a bill introduced by State Senator Scott Bennett.

    Bennett (D-Champaign) sponsored Senate Bill 1468, which would expand the eligibility for voluntary discount programs currently offered by businesses to veterans and military personnel to include spouses and dependents.

    “Making sure all veterans and service members can take advantage of their military discount is one small way we can express our gratitude for their service,” Bennett said. “Enhancing this discount program to include their families honors the commitment that our brave servicemen and women and their families make to our country.”

    Currently, the military discount program is only extended to veterans and military service members.

    Senate Bill 1468 passed out of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and is scheduled for consideration before the full Senate.

  • hastings 022119SPRINGFIELD – Veterans would receive veteran-specific care upon entry to medical facilities thanks to State Senator Michael E. Hastings’ Senate Resolution 56, which was adopted today.

    “Most healthcare providers do not conduct a standard military inquiry upon a patient’s visit,” Hastings said. “Many of our veterans face challenges to their physical and mental health that are particular to their situation. To give them the best possible care using veteran-specific practices, healthcare providers should be aware of their veteran status.”

    SR 56, an initiative of the Aging Veterans Council, would require healthcare providers to ask their patients if they or their spouse has ever served in the military. In addition, all staff responsible for the patient would be made aware of their status and would be provided education on best practices for veteran-specific care.

    “Only 16 percent of veterans receive their health care from VA clinics. This leaves 84 percent of veterans being cared for by healthcare providers who are not necessarily aware of their veteran status or familiar with the best practices for treating them.”

  • powmia r

    SPRINGFIELD – Legislation inspired by a Peoria-area veteran advanced out of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee today.

    State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) is the chief co-sponsor of Senate Bill 1127, which requires airports in Illinois to fly the POW/MIA flag.

    “Honoring our veterans with public displays is crucial for younger generations to understand and remember their sacrifices,” Koehler said. “This legislation is just one small step we can take to show our veterans that we have not forgotten them.”

    The idea was brought to Springfield by Peoria-area veteran Gary Hall, who wanted the General Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport to fly the POW/MIA flag under the American flag. Airport officials said their hands were tied legally and would be unable to fly the flag.

    The measure now goes before the whole Senate for a vote.

  • sims 060418CHICAGO—State Senator Elgie R. Sims Jr. (D-Chicago) released the following statement after Gov. JB Pritzker signed an executive order for a full audit of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs’ (IDVA), health, safety and security procedures in response to one of the residents at the Manteno Veterans’ Home testing positive for Legionnaires’ Disease:

    “We have to do all we can to prevent a repeat of what happened in Quincy at the Manteno Veterans’ Home. These men and women have sacrificed so much for the people of this great state and country.

    “For that reason, I commend Gov. Pritzker. His swift action is exactly what we need—a fresh start. The lack of transparency in how the last administration handled the Legionnaires’ outbreak in Quincy was despicable. I join the governor in his commitment to treat this situation with the urgency it demands. I just sent a letter to the director of the Manteno Veterans’ Home this week requesting detailed information on how the case of Legionnaires’ disease is being handled and what protocol is being taken.

    “We have an obligation to protect our heroes as they have protected us, and this means collecting as much information as possible so we can be transparent with them, their families and the public and take all necessary precautions to protect them from any harm, particularly Legionnaires’ disease.”

  • castro 080818SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) commended Gov. JB Pritzker’s decision today to make a commitment to addressing a lingering health care crisis at the state’s veterans’ homes.

    “The Legionnaires’ outbreak was a public health crisis, but the previous administration’s behind the scenes scheming, secrecy and lack of communication with the very families affected made it even worse,” Castro said. “This executive order gives us a fresh start and an opportunity to renew our commitment to providing quality care for veterans. We owe it to them and their families to ensure type of health crisis never occurs again.”

    Pritzker issued an executive order today instructing the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to provide a report in the next 120 days examining the strengths and weaknesses of Illinois’ veterans’ homes and determine what efforts can be made to ensure that the brave men and women who served our country receive proper care.

    The order further directs veterans’ homes to develop procedures for communicating with families to ensure that they are no longer left in the dark about the care their loved ones are receiving.

    Senator Castro was named chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee this week and plans to continue working with the new administration to protect veterans.

    “I look forward to collaborating with Gov. Pritzker on this issue and others facing Illinois veterans,” she said. “We need to work together to provide our country’s heroes with the treatment they deserve when their service has concluded.”

  • tc 052918MANTENO— State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is praising Gov. JB Pritzker’s move to protect Illinois’ veterans.

    On Friday, Pritzker issued an executive order to examine and get to the bottom of the Legionnaires’ crisis in the state’s veterans’ homes.

    Pritzker’s administration is directing the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs to issue a report 120 days that will provide a comprehensive review of weaknesses, strengths and opportunities for improvement of policies, protocols and procedures related to ensuring the health and safety of residents and employees at Illinois veterans’ homes.

  • jbt 041118 3PLAINFIELD – Illinois veterans are taking advantage of a program championed by State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) to provide veterans with the tools to launch new businesses.

    Due to a loan from the Illinois business program, Captain Jon Glass, an Army combat veteran paratrooper, recently purchased the iconic Glenwood Oaks restaurant in Glenwood.

    “Veteran-owned businesses are important to our state’s economy,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “This new program will help our veterans get their businesses off the ground by equipping them with the tools to be successful.”

    The Illinois veterans’ business loan program allows the Illinois Finance Authority to offer an increased number of low-interest loans to veterans to create new businesses.

    “Our military veterans have worked hard to protect us,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “Now is the time for us to honor their sacrifices.” 

    Captain Glass is currently the head chef at the Glens restaurant in the northern suburbs. He is married with five children and is active in his church community.

    Bertino-Tarrant’s Senate Bill 324 launched the program through the Illinois Finance Authority, which now allows veterans to apply for and receive business loans.

    She worked on developing this loan program with Lynn Lowder, a former Marine officer and advocate for veterans becoming small-business owners. The program would be similar to agribusiness and farming programs administered by the state treasurer.

    Bertino-Tarrant urges veterans to visit www.il-fa.com to learn more about this veteran loan program or contact her Plainfield office at (815) 254-4211 for more information.

  • mulroe 112618SPRINGFIELD – State Senator John Mulroe (D-Chicago) released the following statement on news that funding will be released for a $20.5 million renovation project at the Chicago Veterans Home.

    “Caring for the men and women who fight for our freedom is a sacred duty, and we have seen what happens when we neglect it,” Mulroe said. “The improvements and equipment replacement planned as part of this $20.5 million project will ensure the Chicago Veterans Home can continue serving the people who so selflessly served their country.”

  • vets home 030918SPRINGFIELD – Despite a veto from Gov. Bruce Rauner, State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) lead the charge in the Illinois State Senate to help provide justice to the 14 families who lost loved ones to a Legionnaire’s disease epidemic at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy.

    Hastings’ Senate Bill 2481 would remove a $100,000 cap for state payouts in civil litigation. The measure will allow families greater restitution for the loved ones who died as a result of state negligence and mismanagement. The Illinois Senate overrode Rauner’s veto of Senate Bill 2481 with bipartisan support on Wednesday.

  • Sen. Tom Cullerton Certificate of RecognitionWASHINGTON, DC – The United States Department of Defense recently recognized State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) for his leadership in shaping policies that positively impact the lives of service members and families in Illinois.

    “I’m honored to receive this prestigious designation for my efforts to better the lives of our military personnel, veterans and their families,” Cullerton said. “Our nation’s heroes have served our great country with honor and respect and have made countless sacrifices to protect our freedoms. The new laws we passed this year serve as a small token of appreciation for all they do to keep us safe.”

    Cullerton served in the Army from 1990 to 1993 as an infantryman. He continues to use his military experience to implement commonsense legislation that makes resources easily accessible for Illinois’ veterans.

  • Sen. Tom CullertonNew law will create alert system for missing veterans

    VILLA PARK – A new law to alert police and emergency professionals of missing veterans will take effect Jan. 1, thanks to State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park).

    Cullerton’s House Bill 4212 expands the use of the Endangered Missing Person Advisory system known as the Silver Alert to veterans who are believed to have physical or mental conditions related to their service. It was signed into law on Friday.

    Per the new law, the public would be notified when a high-risk veteran goes missing. The alert would be similar to Amber Alerts, which are already used by the state to locate missing children.

    “Our veterans have put their lives in harm’s way to protect us. When our heroes return home, we need to find ways to look out for them,” Cullerton said. “This new law will help us save lives.”

    The effort is the latest in a long line of veteran protections put in place by Cullerton.

  • tc 051518SPRINGFIELD – The State of Illinois currently does not have a procedure in place to alert police and emergency professionals of missing veterans, but State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is working to change that.

    Cullerton passed House Bill 4212, which expands the use of the Endangered Missing Person Advisory system - also known as Silver Alert – to veterans who are believed to have physical or mental conditions related to their service.

  • tcullerton 022118SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) joined a group of bipartisan legislators to help institute swift and effective remedies at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy.

    Cullerton joined House and Senate democrats and republicans in reiterating the General Assembly’s readiness to pass legislation to expedite the construction process to ensure the safety and well-being of the United States servicemen and women at the Quincy home.