CHICAGO – December 19, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation that will improve the quality of life for Illinois’ Veterans. Senate Bill 1587, sponsored by Sen. Antonio Munoz (D-Chicago) and Rep. Edward Acevedo (D-Chicago), and Senate Bill 40, sponsored by Sen. Susan Garrett (D-Highwood) and Rep. Lisa Dugan (D-Kankakee), make it easier for Veterans to gain access to employment and health care.
“The men and women who have courageously defended our democracy overseas should not return home only to fight for necessities like jobs and health insurance,” said Governor Quinn. “We owe it to our Veterans to make their transition to civilian life as seamless as possible.”
Senate Bill 1587 makes it easier for Veterans to become members of the Illinois State Police (ISP). Under the new law, education requirements will be waived for individuals who have been honorably discharged with a campaign medal after serving in Afghanistan or Iraq. On average, a servicemember serves three to four years before being discharged, and that experience makes Veterans particularly valuable assets to the ISP.
"Having been a Veteran who returned home and found limited job opportunities, I applaud the efforts of Governor Quinn and the state legislators to improve the quality of life for soldiers seeking to further their careers to serve and protect,” said Illinois State Police Director Hiram Grau. “This law will give Veterans every opportunity to apply and test within our department, and will significantly increase the pool of qualified, experienced candidates representing the Illinois State Police.”
Governor Quinn also signed Senate Bill 40, which extends the Veterans’ Care program. The program provides Veterans with comprehensive health care coverage for $40 or $70 per month (depending on income). The program had been set to expire on Jan. 1.
“Employment and the availability affordable of healthcare are among the most critical needs of the Illinois veteran community,” said Erica Borggren, Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs. “These measures will have an immediate, direct impact for Illinois’ past and present heroes in uniform.”
The law also helps members of the Illinois National Guard receive compensation more quickly when responding to in-state natural disasters. Under the law, the Illinois National Guard State Active Duty Fund will be created to more efficiently reimburse Guard members called to active duty in the event of state disasters.
“Our Soldiers and Airmen always stand ready for any mission, whether here at home or overseas,” said Maj. Gen. William Enyart, Illinois National Guard Adjutant General. “As responders, this bill will help the Illinois National Guard's immediate response to emergencies. It will allow us to move forward during the mission knowing our soldiers, airmen and suppliers will receive prompt payment during a crisis and won't have to worry about paying their families bills.”
For more information about these and other programs for Veterans, visit www.operationhomefront.org or call the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs at (217) 782-6641 or (312) 814-2460.