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Tom Cullerton passes measure to protect high-risk veterans

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.

Similar to the circumstances that lead to employment of an Amber alert, the public would be notified when a high-risk veteran goes missing in an effort to quickly locate them.

“Our servicemen and women have made great sacrifices to protect our freedom and democracy,” Cullerton said. “When they return home, it’s our job to look out for them. Every life we can save is priceless.”

In 2013, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs released a study that covered suicides from 1999 to 2010, which showed that roughly 22 veterans were dying by suicide per day, or one every 65 minutes.

Cullerton created and served as a chairperson on the Illinois Veterans Suicide Taskforce to help address the veteran suicide epidemic in Illinois. This is another step to help ensure veterans receive the vital resources when they return home.

“This measure puts protocols in place to help immediately notify authorities and emergency networkers to bring our veterans home sooner,” Cullerton said. “I urge any veteran struggling with suicide and depression to take advantage of available, free, state resources. No one expects you to tackle these internal struggles alone. There is help out there”

Cullerton, a veteran himself, served in the Army from 1990 to 1993 as an infantryman.

Last General Assembly, Cullerton passed a series of laws to help his fellow veterans combat the veterans’ suicide epidemic in Illinois including Senate Bill 866 which will help expand the use of service animals to veterans to help them cope with PTSD.

Cullerton urges veterans and their loved ones to call the confidential and toll free hotline, 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, if they need support.

Sen. Tom Cullerton

tcullerton-hs

23rd Legislative District

Years served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Appropriations II; Labor; Local Government (Vice-Chairperson); State Government & Veterans Affairs; Transportation; Committee of the Whole; Energy and Public Utilities.

Biography: Born Sept. 20, 1969; studied at the University of Kansas; former village president and trustee of Villa Park; married (wife Stacey), three sons.