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Veterans

  • Hastings, Cullerton support suicide prevention

    AFSP SPWAccording to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, over 40,000 suicides were reported in 2013. This places suicide as the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.

    September 6-12 is designated Suicide Prevention Week to help spread awareness about the severity of this issue and put a stop to the steady increase in yearly suicide rates.

    The Illinois Senate recently passed legislation focused on preventing youth suicide, and it was signed into law on August 21. The sponsor of the legislation, Senator Michael Hastings (D-Tinley Park), initiated the plan after a traumatic local experience.

  • Kids, cocktails, corn: new laws, Fall 2015 edition

    new laws 0915With this year’s main session of the General Assembly over, Illinois has several new laws that could make a significant impact on your daily life.

    If you have kids, enjoy after-work cocktails or are a veteran, you should definitely check out our list of the most important and interesting new laws that took effect this summer.

  • Tom Cullerton selected to serve on Veteran Suicide Task Force

    tcull vets suicideVILLA PARK- A study released this year by Federal Department of Veterans Affairs and Army researchers suggests that the suicide risk for returning veterans who served in the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is significantly higher — 41 percent to 61 percent higher — than for the general population.

    To find ways to combat this epidemic, State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) has been appointed to the Illinois Veteran Suicide Task Force. As a veteran himself, Cullerton has a good perspective on issues facing many returning military members.     

    “Our veterans have risked their lives and made sacrifices to protect our freedoms and democracy,” said Cullerton. “When they return home, it’s our duty to find ways to look out for them.”

    The Illinois Veteran Suicide Task Force was formed by a measure Cullerton led in 2014. The task force will investigate the causes of veteran suicide, form policy recommendations and report back to the General Assembly.

    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.

    “It’s our duty to help veterans transition back into civilian life,” Cullerton said. “Our hope is we will learn more and implement programs to treat the causes of veteran suicide. We need to arm veterans with resources to cope with their depression and PTSD.”

    The taskforce must report on their findings to the General Assembly by December 31, 2016.

  • Sullivan: Extend firefighter exams for veterans

    firefighter examSPRINGFIELD—Legislation allowing Illinois veterans between the ages of 35 and 40 to apply to become firefighters was signed into law Monday.

    Senator John Sullivan (D-Rushville) sponsored the new law in the Senate, and Representative Don Moffitt (R-Gilson) initiated it in the House.

    “Ability—not age—should be what qualifies a candidate, especially a veteran, to be a firefighter. Keeping fire departments fully staffed is always an issue—especially in rural areas—and we shouldn’t turn veterans away because of age,” Sullivan said.

    The new law, House Bill 3203, allows veterans who turned 35 while serving in the military and are currently under the age of 40, to take an exam for a firefighter position.

    Currently, no one who is 35 or older can apply to be a firefighter unless they have previously served as one.

    The law applies to active duty or reserve members of the military, including national guardsmen.

    The governor signed the law Monday, and it takes effect immediately.

  • Sen. Link’s efforts to help veterans signed into law

    link 081715SPRINGFIELD – Disabled veterans will see property tax relief and active military personnel gain added ID and credit security under two newly signed laws sponsored by state Sen. Terry Link (D-Waukegan).

    “Our service men and women put their lives on the line to protect us. I’m honored to be able play a part in providing them some financial relief and security,” Link said. The proposals he sponsored – SB 107 and HB 3425 – were signed Sunday by the governor.

    SB 107

    This new law take effect immediately and provides property tax relief for veterans who have accessibility improvements, such as wheelchair ramps, made to their homes. Accessibility projects can cost thousands of dollars and increase the value of homes, meaning disabled veterans are hit with higher property tax bills just for making their homes more livable.

    Senator Link sponsored the proposal after a disabled veteran living in his district partially remodeled her kitchen to make room for her walker, only to have her assessed evaluation increase. After numerous appeals, she won her case to have the evaluation lowered. She then pursued a change to state law to make sure accessibility projects don’t affect property taxes.

    Senator Link was able to deliver for her. Thanks to his legislation such improvements will not increase the assessed valuation of the property for a period of seven years after the improvements are completed.

    In addition, many disabled veterans will qualify for additional property tax relief. For instance, a veteran with a service-related disability of 30 percent to 50 percent qualifies for a $2,500 property tax exemption. Previously this veteran would not qualify for any exemption.

    A veteran with a service-connected disability of 50-70 percent qualifies for a $5,000 exemption, up from the previous $2,500.

    And a veteran with a service-connected disability of 70 percent or more is exempt from taxation. Previously this veteran would qualify for a $5,000 exemption.

    “These soldiers personally sacrificed so much for our country and freedoms. It’s time we recognized that and do what we can to give back,” said Link.

    SB 107 takes effect immediately.

    HB 3425

    Military personnel are often the target of identity thieves and credit scams. In fact, a Federal Trade Commission report found they are victimized twice as often as the general public.

    In response, Senator Link was the chief Senate sponsor of HB 3425, which offers free credit freezes for active military personnel and veterans.

    Previously, consumer reporting agencies could charge consumers up to $10 each time they request a credit freeze. Credit security freezes prevent new creditors from accessing a person’s credit report. This prevents identity thieves from opening a new account in a veteran’s name.

    The new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, eliminates the charge for military personnel and veterans.

  • Construction on veterans home stalled amid budget negotiation

    delgado vets homeCHICAGO- State Senator William Delgado (D-Chicago) joined Alderman Villegas on Monday in support of his effort to fund a construction project for a veterans home in Chicago. The project is at a standstill due to a lack of funding.

    “Our veterans deserve and depend on this home as a very important resource,” Delgado said. “If this project falls apart it will prevent them from living a worry-free life, and that is unacceptable.”

    If it’s completed, the home would be capable of housing 200 veterans in private rooms fitted with private bathrooms and would feature a common dining area and recreational facilities. The federal government has committed to supply 65 percent of the required funding, but the governor recently rescinded about $4 million of the remaining state funding needed to complete the project. If the funding is not restored the grants from the federal government may be jeopardized. The scheduled opening date for the facility has already been pushed back about 6 months to January 2017.

  • Sullivan responds to the passing of Dr. Russell Dohner

    dohner 080715RUSHVILLE— Longtime Rushville physician Dr. Russell Dohner passed away Friday morning. Dohner had served the people of Rushville and Schuyler County from 1955 to 2013 when he retired at age 88.

    “Dr. Dohner stood for everything you wanted to see in a doctor: He was hardworking, compassionate, thoughtful, humble and involved with the community. He touched the lives of generations and was a truly remarkable man. He will be deeply missed,” State Senator John Sullivan (D-Rushville) said.

    Dohner received national attention for his long career and for his practice of only charging $5 per visit regardless of his expense. He didn’t take appointments, saw patients on a first-come-first served basis and wouldn’t leave until every patient was seen.

    Dohner was a World War II veteran and a graduate of Northwestern University Medical School. He was born in Vermont, Ill. in 1925 and passed away at age 90.

    In 2013 Dohner served as the grand marshal of the Illinois State Fair parade and made the simple statement, “I'm a general practitioner: I do whatever I can to help people."

  • Sullivan: Veterans home resident protections become law

    Sullivan: Veterans home resident protections become lawSPRINGFIELD - Legislation giving residents of Illinois Veterans Homes the right to appeal expulsion decisions was signed into law Friday.

    State Senator John Sullivan (D-Rushville) introduced the new law that grew out of a case earlier this year where a veteran, Eugene Zalazinski, would have been forced out of the Quincy Veterans Home without an independent appeal or hearing.

    “Veterans rely on the medical care and assistance they earned by serving our country. We are maintaining their rights and dignity as well as keeping them in a safe, caring environment as an appeal goes through,” Sullivan said.

  • Bertino-Tarrant’s legislation making college more affordable for veterans becomes law

    Bertino-Tarrant's legislation making college more affordable for veterans becomes law

    SPRINGFIELD - A new law was signed today that will allow veterans attending Illinois colleges and universities to qualify for instate tuition rates.

    “Those who serve our nation deserve our utmost respect,” said Bertino-Tarrant, Senate sponsor of HB3692. “This law will make college more affordable for student veterans who have made significant contributions to our nation.”

    The law applies to veterans attending college through the Pre-9/11 G.I. Bill. Last year, Illinois allowed veterans using the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill to qualify for in-state tuition. Bertino-Tarrant simply wanted to make sure all veterans utilizing a G.I. Bill program would qualify for in-state tuition.

  • Van Pelt proud to support federal appropriations passed by Illinois Senate

    pvp fedfundsSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) is pleased to have had the opportunity to vote in support of an Illinois General Assembly bill that approved federal appropriations for a variety of state programs, totaling over $7.65 billion.

    Senate Bill 2042 allows the state government to spend federal money on an assortment of programs. Included in the federal funding are dollars for community block grants for municipalities, family and community services including the WIC program, as well as funds to help homeless veterans, continue with breast and cervical cancer screenings, and home-delivered meals for the Department on Aging.

    “With the passage of this legislation, a large portion of our state budget will be funded. Many of these important programs were in danger of closing due to the current budget impasse. I’m proud to have been in Springfield to vote for this legislation and I’m very pleased it has passed the Illinois Senate,” Senator Van Pelt said.

    The legislation comes as the Illinois General Assembly and the governor’s office continue negotiations on a new state budget. The governor vetoed the appropriations legislation sent to him by the General Assembly in May that would have avoided the current stalemate.

    Senate Bill 2042 will now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.

    “I urge my colleagues in the House to pass this legislation to help keep these valuable state services continuing and also urge the Governor to sign the bill into law once it gets to his office,” Van Pelt said.