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Tom Cullerton fights to give Quincy veterans honor and respect they deserve

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. 

Tom Cullerton continues quest for answers on Legionnaires' Disease outbreak

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.”

Cullerton pushes Rauner for a plan

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.”

Tom Cullerton calls for swift action at Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy

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.”

Sen. Tom Cullerton

tcullerton-hs

23rd Legislative District

Years served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Energy and Public Utilities; Insurance; Labor; State Government; Transportation; Veterans Affairs (Chairperson); Sub. on Utility Rate Regulations (Sub-Chairperson).

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

Associated Representatives:
Deb Conroy
Diane Pappas