Governor Quinn today celebrated our nation's 236th birthday and the more than 800,000 Illinois Veterans by signing new laws to improve the quality of life for Veterans. Building on his longstanding commitment to Veterans and military families, Governor Pat Quinn signed three new laws that will improve access to jobs, benefits and state programs for servicemembers.
"Today on the Fourth of July, we honor our founding fathers by improving the lives of the men and women who serve this nation," Governor Quinn said. "Supporting our Veterans, who sacrifice to ensure the freedoms we enjoy, is one of my top priorities. These new laws will make sure our heroes receive the services they need here at home."
In order to further improve Veterans' access to state services, Governor Quinn signed Senate Bill 2837, sponsored by Sen. Pamela Althoff (R-Crystal Lake) and Rep. Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago). Under the new law, Veterans will receive a unique distinction on their driver's licenses and identification cards. This will enable the IDVA and other state agencies to more efficiently identify Veterans for services and benefits, such as healthcare, education assistance, and job placement. The Secretary of State will implement the change by Jan. 1, 2015.
"It is more important than ever to care for our Veterans and to make it easier for them to access benefits and programs, said Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs (IDVA) Director Erica Borggren. "These laws do just that, while also helping us chip away at the Veteran unemployment problem."
As part of Governor Quinn's ongoing efforts to make sure Veterans do not have to fight for jobs at home, he signed House Bill 4586, sponsored by Rep. Will Davis (D-Chicago) and Sen. William Haine (D-Alton). Under the new law, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources will partner with the IDVA, the Illinois Departments of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), and Employment Security (IDES), as well as the Illinois State Job Coordinating Council to add the Illinois Veteran Conservation Corps and Illinois Veteran Recreation Corps to the Illinois Conservation Corps. Under the new law, unemployed Illinois Veterans and members of the Illinois National Guard between the ages of 18 and 25 are eligible for year-round conservation and environmental employment in the corps. The new law goes into effect immediately.
Governor Quinn also signed Senate Bill 3689, sponsored by Sen. John Sullivan (D-Rushville) and Rep. Carol Sente (D-Vernon Hills) to help address unemployment among Veterans. The new law makes employment and job training organizations eligible to receive grants through the Veterans Assistance Fund. More than $10 million from the fund, made up of proceeds from the Veterans Cash lottery ticket program, has been awarded to nonprofit organizations across the state. Recipients provide health care and post-traumatic stress disorder treatment, housing assistance, disability benefits and other services to Illinois Veterans. The law goes into effect immediately.
For more information about programs and benefits for our Veterans, visit Veterans.Illinois.Gov or call the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs at 217-782-6641 or 312-814-2460.