Governor Rauner Signs Bills Honoring Gold Star Families, Increasing Services to Illinois Veterans

Governor Bruce Rauner on Sunday took action on several bills as part of Veterans Day at the 2016 Illinois State Fair. The bills strengthen Illinois’ commitment to our veterans and their families by providing needed assistance and honor to those who have sacrificed so much for our country and our state.

“The selflessness of our American heroes can never truly be repaid, but here in Illinois we are making it easier for our men and women to return home and have prosperous futures,” said Governor Rauner. “We are investing in our veterans’ futures while never forgetting those we have lost along the way.

Two of the bills support the families of our Illinois veterans. HB 4389, sponsored by Rep. Steven Andersson, designates the day after Gold Star Mother’s Day as Gold Star Family Day to be observed throughout the Illinois as a day to honor and commemorate the families of men and women who gave their lives while serving with the armed forces of the United States. HB 4432, sponsored by Rep. Don Moffitt, allows a child in any grades 6 through 12 to be absent from a public school for the purpose of sounding “Taps” at a military honor funeral held in Illinois for a deceased veteran. Read more about HB 4389 and HB 4432.

HB 4344, sponsored by Rep. Mark Batinick, creates the Heroes Way Designation Program Act. It is a way to honor servicemembers who were killed in action by allowing a relative to apply to have an honorary sign with the name of the servicemember erected along designated Illinois roads.

“Our Gold Star Families have made the ultimate sacrifice for the people of this country. They have lost their loved ones in service to our nation. That loss and their resilience should be remembered and honored every single year,” Governor Rauner added.

The Governor also signed bills to assist veterans’ transition from military life to life as a civilian and increase the level of care within Veterans’ Homes.

HB 4627, sponsored by Rep. Mike Tryon, allows veterans to begin their college education upon discharge regardless of how the calendar year lines up. Read more about HB 4627.

“By establishing an admissions process in which honorably discharged veterans are permitted to submit an application for admission to the university as a freshman student enrolling in the spring semester, if the veteran was on active duty during the fall semester, will not force the veteran to put their life on hold just because the calendar does not match up,” said Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Erica Jeffries. “I thank the Governor and the legislature for providing this important benefit to our Illinois Heroes.”

HB 5938, sponsored by Rep. Randy Frese, amends the Veterans’ Home Nurses’ Loan Repayment Act to expand the scope of the program to include eligible physicians, nurse practitioners and nurses, rather than limiting the act to just nurses. Read more about HB 5938.

HB 5003, sponsored by Rep. Christine Winger, requires, rather than allows, the Chief Judge of each judicial circuit to establish a Veterans and Servicemembers Court program to help those veterans who have fallen on hard times. Read more about HB 5003.

SB 3401, sponsored by Rep. Mike McAuliffe will assist veterans in their effort to receive help for mental health issues. The new law allows Veteran’s Assistance Commissions (VAC) to provide assessments, mentoring, and treatment programs to veterans through the the Veterans and Servicemembers Treatment Courts. Read more about SB 3401.