Respecting those who serve

The selfless sacrifice of those who serve in the Armed Forces, and that of their families, is something we should never forget. They safeguarded our lives and deserve our ongoing gratitude, respect and support.

However, in the last year many Illinois veterans and active duty service members have not received the essential care and support they need and deserve. Rep. Chesney wants to make sure that the state’s failure to take care of veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic never happens again. He remains committed to honoring veterans with increased state accountability and updated programs that recognize women’s contributions as well as the families of veterans and provides support for service personnel transitioning to civilian life.

To show his support for veterans, Rep. Chesney co-sponsored the following legislation that passed in this General Assembly:

HB359Signed into law in January, this legislationcreates the Veterans Accountability Unit. HB359 was deemed necessary after staff at the LaSalle Veterans home failed to protect veterans in the state’s care from COVID-19, resulting in the tragic and preventable deaths of 36 heroes. The legislation will become effective on June 1.  It provides mechanisms for veterans and their families as well as veteran home staff and vendors to file complaints and offer recommendations. More important, it provides oversight to prevent failures like those that occurred at LaSalle.

HJR64Declares June 12, 2022 as “Women’s Veterans Day” to commemorate the day women were officially added as regular members of the United States military. The resolution recognizes the critical role of women in the military forces, and commemorates the sacrifices and valor displayed by Illinois women veterans.

 SB3762  – Establishes the Deceased, Disabled, and MIA/POW Veterans’ Dependents Act to help the spouses and children of eligible veterans afford college. The program includes legally adopted dependents and stepchildren.

The scholarships created through the Act cover tuition for post-secondary education programs at state universities and public community colleges. It also covers the cost of schooling equal to four years, including summer semesters, and can be used for application fees, placement and proficiency testing fees, term fees, and graduation fees.

HB4680We should be making it easier for veterans to access state resources, not harder.This legislation removes the requirement for veterans wishing to obtain state fishing, hunting and camping licenses from having to register in person at the regional office of the Department of Natural Resources in order to get their exemption benefit. This bill would permit veterans to submit required documentation to their local IDNR office.

HB5385 – Helps service members who are transitioning from active duty to the private sector workforce gain the skills they need to be successful in their new civilian jobs.

Currently, the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) refers veterans seeking employment assistance to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, bouncing those who have served our country from one agency to another. This measure would designate IDVA as the primary statewide assistance organization under the U.S. Department of Defense’s SkillBridge Program. SkillBridge helps active duty members gain job experience and transition to the civilian workforce by matching service members with opportunities at participating businesses where their skill sets match.

Rep. Chesney continues to stand with those who bravely defended our freedoms to ensure they have easy access to the essential resources and support they have earned and deserve.

For more information on Veteran’s Programs please visit our Veterans Portal.