ROCK ISLAND, Ill. – State Rep. Mike Halpin, D-Rock Island, is urging Gov. Rauner to sign a measure to help veterans’ transition into civilian life and prevent veteran suicide.
“Those who made a commitment to defend our country often experience both emotional and physical wounds,” said Halpin. “Veteran suicide is a growing problem, and it’s important that we make care more accessible for service members returning home.”
According to a recent study by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, 22 veterans commit suicide every day throughout the country, which is why Halpin sponsored House Bill 2647, a bill that passed with bipartisan support in the General Assembly. His measure requires the Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs (IDVA) to create several programs to better serve veterans with mental trauma, depression and other service-related mental illnesses. Halpin’s bill directs IDVA to work with the Federal Department of Veterans’ Affairs to proactively identify Illinois veterans whose service exposed them to situations found to increase the likelihood of suicidal tendencies.
Halpin’s bill will allow the IDVA to coordinate with various Veteran Service Organizations, such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and other non-profit groups, to improve the mental health training provided to veterans’ assistance commissions and other veterans’ groups. As well as increasing access to care, Halpin’s measure would create a family preparation course about deployment, discharge and return of veterans for families of service members.
“This legislation will increase access to mental health care for veterans, and provide new accommodations for returning service members as they seek civilian jobs and educational opportunities,” said Halpin. “I am urging Governor Rauner to sign the measure so that Illinois veterans can begin receiving health treatment, job training and other services as soon as they get home.”