SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Larry Walsh, Jr., D-Joliet, recently supported two measures to help address shortcomings uncovered by the Taskforce on Veteran Suicide, which met across the state last year with veterans and their families.
“The taskforce uncovered that many veteran suicides go unreported in Illinois due to the fact death certificates lack information about an individual’s military service,” Walsh said. “This measure will allow information regarding an individual’s military service to be listed on death certificates and help us in our efforts to eliminate veteran suicide by raising awareness of this silent epidemic.”
Walsh supported Senate Bill 1693, which allows the death certificates of veterans to include information related to their service. Information would include their veteran status, branch of military and the period of time served in the military.
Walsh also helped pass Senate Bill 866 to require the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) to provide information and education on service animals to veterans. Currently, the IDVA isn’t required to provide information or resources on how a former service member can obtain a service animal. The hope is more veterans with mental trauma, depression and other service-related mental illnesses will take advantage of utilizing service dogs as part of their care and treatment.
Both Senate Bill 1693 and Senate Bill 866 have passed the General Assembly and now go to the governor’s desk.
“Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder often have difficulty to high-stress situations,” Walsh said. “Service dogs can help keep veterans calm while out in public, on the job, or even at home, so it’s vital we increase awareness of their availability to those who have served our country and carry both the physical and mental scars from their time overseas.”
Earlier this year, Walsh sponsored and supported a comprehensive package of reforms to address the issue of veteran suicide. His House Bill 2647, which passed with bipartisan support, 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.