Text Size
Login
config

Veterans

  • tc 052617SPRINGFIELD - State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) advanced legislation today that would require the Auditor General to investigate the response by the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs to the Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy

    Culleton has led the charge to evaluate the actions taken by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and to ensure current protocols and procedures are up to date. He also wants to ensure these procedures were properly followed by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration.

    “Our veterans have served our country with great honor and respect. Sadly, some loyal soldiers were unable to count on the State of Illinois to give them the care they deserved,” Cullerton said. “My hope is a thorough examination will create policies to guarantee our veterans will not perish due to preventable conditions.”  

    Cullerton, who serves on the bipartisan Illinois Legislative Audit Commission, sent letters to fellow members State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) and Rep. Bob Rita (D-Blue Island) in hopes of cooperating to drive the audit. 

    “The Illinois Auditor General must launch a full examination into the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy to give the General Assembly a clear picture of the problems we have on hand,” Cullerton said. “The sooner we examine this atrocity, the quicker we can remedy the situation.”

    Cullerton said this is another example of mismanagement and ineffective usage of state resources by the governor’s administration. 

    “Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration has been thoughtless and ineffective in providing care and services to our veterans,” Cullerton said. “I’ll continue to fight for my fellow soldiers like they have fought for me.”  

    Cullerton served as an infantryman in the Army from 1990 to 1993, and he currently serves as the chairman of the Illinois Senate’s Veterans Affairs Committee.

    Senate Resolution 1186 passed the Senate’s Committee on Veterans Affairs with bipartisan support and now moves to the full senate for consideration.

    He will reconvene a bipartisan hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 7 to address this issue and continue to examine the care and services veterans receive at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy. 

  • tc 052417VILLA PARK- State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) continues to look for answers regarding an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy.

    This week he requested the release of any documentation of correspondence from key government agencies pertaining to the outbreak.

    “Committee members left the hearing with a lot of unanswered questions last week,” Cullerton said.  “There is a weakness within the current process; our hope is that additional examination will help guarantee our veterans are receiving the state’s best.”

  • ivhq signVILLA PARK- Irked by three years of inaction from Gov. Bruce Rauner, State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) filed legislation this week to begin fixing infrastructure problems at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy.

    “Governor Rauner has had three years to come up with a long-term solution to protect these heroes of our nation, and during that time, 13 people have died from the spread of Legionnaire’s disease,” Cullerton said. “My hope is this time the governor will realize the severity of inaction and do his job to provide our veterans the service and care they deserve, not more bureaucratic red tape and band aids.”

    Cullerton aimed to kick start progress at the facility by filing Senate Bill 2308, which would authorize infrastructure improvements at Illinois’ flagship veterans home. The improvements would include updates to the water systems or new construction to prevent the spread of Legionella bacteria.

    A veteran himself, Cullerton serves as the Chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and is leading the way to a legislative fix to the spread of Legionnaire’s disease at any Illinois veterans home.

    State Representative David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills), the chief sponsor of the bill in the House, is working on building a bipartisan coalition to ensure speedy passage in that chamber once the bill clears the Senate.

    During the Veterans Affairs Committee hearing this week, Gov. Rauner’s agency directors made their first request for additional funding to begin construction and renovations at the veterans facility despite the three-year outbreak and 13 deaths at the facility.  

    “If we in the general assembly knew additional funds were needed to improve living conditions and eliminate risk factors for Legionella at this facility, it would have been approved in a heartbeat,” Cullerton said. “Sadly, we are once again waiting on the governor for answers and results.”

    On Wednesday, the governor punctuated a weeklong, well-publicized stay at the Quincy facility with a theatrical press conference calling for funding to either fix water piping systems throughout the complex or build a whole new facility.

    “The Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy is a home for our heroes. Not a hotel for the governor to check in and out of,” Cullerton said. “Now that he’s had his picture taken, I would hope the governor’s office will submit legislative language within the next week to begin discussions on how to prevent the death of even one more United States Veteran.”

    While Cullerton is committed to fixing the problems with the infrastructure at the facility, he said he was impressed by the care and the staff at the facility during a recent tour.

    “The care and service residents receive there is exceptional,” he said. “The staff comes to work every day and gives our veterans and their loved ones their very best. Still, our heroes shouldn’t have to wait three years for the governor’s “world-class” work.”

    Cullerton is hoping to have some answers from the governor’s office within the next week.

    “At the end of the day, 13 brave heroes have died on the governor’s watch,” Cullerton said. “We cannot afford to lose another warrior to a preventable disease. Let’s get to work and give our veterans the service and care they deserve.”

  • VILLA PARK- State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) released the following statement in response to Governor Rauner’s announcement about replacing pipes and improving infrastructure at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy:

    “I’ve visited the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy to investigate the water infrastructure problems. It didn’t take me staying there for a week to realize there are significant issues needing swift action to make changes. The governor and his administration need to quickly outline their capital plan to begin action and implement a strong strategy to provide our veterans the best possible care and service.”

  • castro 110917SPRINGFIELD – Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) attended the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Joint Committee Hearing regarding the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy. There have been over a dozen deaths caused by this disease in the past three years.

    “Governor Rauner’s administration should have taken immediate action three years ago,” said Castro. “His administration not being here today for this hearing shows me they aren’t taking this seriously. If they knew this was happening, why did they just sit on the CDC’s recommendations? Why did it take so long?”

    Legionnaires' disease is a severe form of pneumonia caused by bacteria found in plumbing systems. Thirteen residents at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy have died due to this disease over the past three years.

    “Pro-action, pro-action,” said Castro. “I’m tired of excuses. These are our veterans and they deserve dignity. A permanent solution needs to be found.”

  • QVHcmte ftr

  • topvetslawsEvery year the General Assembly looks for opportunities to help our military veterans, and this year was no exception. Take a look at some new laws taking effect January 1 that improve benefits and services for Illinois veterans.

  • phone contractELGIN – Veterans will be able to avoid the financial inconvenience of a cell phone or cable contract cancellation under a law sponsored by state Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin).

    The Elgin Democrat sponsored and passed House Bill 2449, allowing those in the armed forces to cancel or suspend certain contracts when they receive orders to relocate or are deployed. Businesses who don’t comply would be breaking the law under this act.

    “The brave men and women serving our country shouldn’t be penalized when they have to relocate or are deployed,” Castro said. “They are putting their lives on hold to protect and defend our country. The least we can do is make sure they have an easy way out of a binding contract when circumstances arise.”

    Currently, service members are allowed to suspend cell phone contracts, bulk long distance services, gas and electricity services, and property and motor vehicle leases. Under Castro’s measure, service members also will be allowed to terminate internet services, television and cable services, gym memberships and satellite radio services.

    The new law will apply to contracts entered into on and after Jan. 1, 2018.

  • tc vets home quincy 121317

  • service dogVILLA PARK- Laws to better serve Illinois veterans will go into effect at the start of the New Year, thanks to Villa Park Democrat, State Senator Tom Cullerton.

    Cullerton passed a series of new laws to guarantee DuPage County veterans have better access to resources and services they qualify for.

    “Our nation’s heroes have served our great country with honor, respect and made countless sacrifices to protect our freedoms,” Cullerton said. “These new laws are a small token of appreciation for all they do to keep us safe.”

  • tc 052617VILLA PARK- To better serve Illinois heroes, the state has formed the first-ever statewide legal assistance hotline and coordinated network of legal support services for military personnel, veterans and their families.

    State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is helping spread the word about the Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network (IL-AFLAN) to ensure DuPage County residents take advantage of free legal services.

  • veteransday2017 ftr

  • tc 052417VILLA PARK- State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is excited to announce qualifying Illinois veterans will now have easy access to Veteran Identification Cards or VICs starting November. 

    “Illinois veterans will have nationwide standardized method to prove their military service without the added risks of identity theft,” Cullerton said. “Our military men and women should not have to jump through hoops to receive benefits they qualify for.  This small step will honor our military’s bravery and serve as a reminder that we must never forget the sacrifices they have made for our great nation.”

  • tc 021617VILLA PARK- State Senator Tom Cullerton’s (D-Villa Park) monumental legislation to combat veteran’s suicide in Illinois was signed into law today.

    “One veteran lost to suicide is one too many,” Cullerton said. “This new law applies common-sense solutions to eliminate barriers between veterans and the state resources they qualify for. This initiative wasn’t compiled in haste but over hours and weeks of testimony, input and concerns raised by veterans, their loved ones and veterans’ organizations throughout the state. This is a true testament to their hard work and dedication to our nation’s heroes. I’m proud of the work that went into this measure and to be part of this monumental effort.”

    House Bill 2647 is a collection of comprehensive recommendations to ensure veterans have better access to services, treatment for mental trauma and depression as well as better access to employment opportunities.

    According to a recent study by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 22 veterans commit suicide every day in the U.S.

    A common theme throughout the process is finding ways to access veterans’ resources promised to the state as well as addressing a disconnect between federal and state resources. House Bill 2647 creates a connection between the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the U.S. Department of Defense to help streamline and remove redundancies when returning veterans redeem benefits.

    Some of the provisions in House Bill 2647 include:

    The DVA will be required to reach out to the U.S. DoD to identify veterans returning from units that have experienced heavy casualties, served in high-conflict areas or have at least one member who possibly committed suicide following their service. After identifying veterans DVA will create a proactive line of communication.

    DVA will also work with higher education facilities to address issues that may negatively affect a veteran’s ability to learn in a traditional classroom environment such as exploring the expansion of online classes, moving desks away from windows and crowded halls, and providing veterans’ only instructional hours.

    DVA will be required to proactively reach out to the U.S. DoD to develop a system to allow veterans to file DD Form 214 (discharge papers immediately upon discharge). This is the required form for veterans to receive benefits.

    Lastly, creating collaboration between local chambers of commerce and DVA to create an employer training program to focus on the needs of veteran employees and identify veteran friendly businesses.

    Cullerton, chairman of the Task Force on Veterans Suicide and a veteran himself, hosted multiple hearings throughout the state to hear from veterans, their spouses and community organizations to hear concerns and recommendations to ease some of the struggles returning veterans experience.

    House Bill 2647 passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support. The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2018.

  • 09082017KI0075 NORTH PEKIN – A state highway was renamed in honor of a fallen Tazewell County soldier today. Part of Route 98 was renamed the “Sgt. Dean Russell Shaffer Memorial Highway” after two Peoria area lawmakers passed a resolution at the General Assembly this Spring.

    State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) introduced Senate Joint Resolution 20 with State Representative Mike Unes (R-East Peoria) to honor Sgt. Dean Shaffer, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2012.

    Sgt. Shaffer was a graduate of Pekin Community High School and was serving with the U.S. Army’s 25th Infantry Division when the Black Hawk helicopter he was on crashed during a medivac mission in Helmand Province, killing on board. Sgt. Shaffer had previously been deployed to Iraq.

  • manar vet servicedog 082517SPRINGFIELD – Illinois military veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or depression will be eligible for service dogs through a special program under legislation sponsored by Senator Andy Manar that was signed into law Friday.

    “Service dogs often can offer companionship, stress-relief and motivation to veterans with PTSD or depression that friends and family may not be able to provide,” Manar said. “I am pleased that these veterans now are on the list of people in Illinois who can take advantage of the Helping Paws Service Dog Program and lead more fulfilling lives.”

  • tc consol 051717VILLA PARK- State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is tackling another obstacle found during the Veterans Suicide Taskforce hearings.

    Cullerton’s measure, Senate Bill 1693, to allow deceased veterans with military service to include their veteran status, branch of military and the period of time served in the military on their death certificate, was signed into law today.

    “We need to get to the cause of veteran suicide,” Cullerton said. “The only way to tackle the problem is to have a complete picture. This is a simple way to collect statistics and honor Illinois’ veterans.”

    The idea was suggested by DuPage County Coroner Richard Jorgenson, who indicated that veteran suicide was under reported since Illinois death certificates do not include information on the history of U.S. military service.

    “These are our nation’s heroes. They took care of us, now it is our time to take care of them,” Cullerton said. “Every life we save is priceless.”

    Senate Bill 1693 is the second measure signed into law that originated from Cullerton’s Veterans Suicide Taskforce hearings.

    The first measure, Senate Bill 866, that requires the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) to provide information and education on service animals to veterans, was signed into law on August 11, 2017.

    Under current law, the DVA isn’t required to provide information or resources on how a veteran might obtain a service animal.

    “The DVA should be a one-stop shop for our veterans,” Cullerton said. “There is a stigma within the veterans’ community on using traditional treatments for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  We haven’t been able to explore the effects of using service dogs as alternative treatments since there is a lack of awareness in the veterans’ community.”

    The Illinois Veterans Suicide Task Force was formed by a measure Cullerton led in 2014. As co-chairman Cullerton held six hearings throughout the state to investigate the causes of veteran suicide and released a report to the General Assembly in December of 2016.

    The Federal Department of Veterans Affairs and Army state that 10% to 18% of returning veterans are likely to have Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after they return. Some studies suggest that suicide risk is higher among those who experienced trauma due to the symptoms of PTSD.

    Senate Bill 1693 passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support. This new law goes into effect on January 1, 2018. 

  • Sen. Kimberly A. LightfordSPRINGFIELD - Measures led by Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) increasing counseling sessions for minors, expanding eligibility for a minority teachers scholarship and promoting the awareness of cancer in veterans were signed into law on Friday.

    Minors 12 years and older seeking counseling will receive more sessions without having to receive prior consent from a guardian under one of the recently approved laws. House Bill 3709 allows counselors to continue serving youth in circumstances where seeking parental permission may be detrimental to the youth.

    “Young people, especially LGBTQ and homeless youth, may sometimes feel like they have no one to turn to in dealing with hardships. They will now have more accessibility to counseling, and I hope it will encourage our youth to seek help when they need it,” Lightford said.

  • Sen. Michael E. HastingsTINLEY PARK - One of the biggest challenges returning servicemen and women face is figuring out how military training credits transfer to college credit.  

    To tackle this hurdle, State Senator Michael E. Hastings’ measure House Bill 3701, to direct Illinois higher education institutions to establish a policy for awarding academic course credit for military training, was signed into law today.

    “Illinois’ veterans have valuable on-site educational experience,” Hastings said. “It’s our duty and honor to ensure returning veterans receive credit for the life and academic skills they learned while serving our nation.”

  • Police Memorial 2016VILLA PARK - To assist military families State Senator Tom Cullerton’s (D-Villa Park) legislation to update the Line of Duty Compensation Act, was signed into law today.

    The Line of Duty Compensation Act provides for death benefits to be paid through the Court of Claims when law enforcement officers, firemen and military service men and women are killed in the line of duty.

    Cullerton had heard from the Attorney General’s Office about a claim filed by the wife of a U.S. Army serviceman who was killed during Operation Freedom Sentinel which is not currently included in the act.