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Tom Cullerton calls for swift action at Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy

VILLA PARK- State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) released the following statement in response to Governor Rauner’s announcement about replacing pipes and improving infrastructure at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy:

“I’ve visited the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy to investigate the water infrastructure problems. It didn’t take me staying there for a week to realize there are significant issues needing swift action to make changes. The governor and his administration need to quickly outline their capital plan to begin action and implement a strong strategy to provide our veterans the best possible care and service.”

Castro on Legionnaires’ disease outbreak: “Our veterans have fought to protect us; it is time for us to protect them.”

castro 110917SPRINGFIELD – Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) attended the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Joint Committee Hearing regarding the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy. There have been over a dozen deaths caused by this disease in the past three years.

“Governor Rauner’s administration should have taken immediate action three years ago,” said Castro. “His administration not being here today for this hearing shows me they aren’t taking this seriously. If they knew this was happening, why did they just sit on the CDC’s recommendations? Why did it take so long?”

Legionnaires' disease is a severe form of pneumonia caused by bacteria found in plumbing systems. Thirteen residents at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy have died due to this disease over the past three years.

“Pro-action, pro-action,” said Castro. “I’m tired of excuses. These are our veterans and they deserve dignity. A permanent solution needs to be found.”

Bertino-Tarrant’s law to make addiction-fighting resources readily available takes effect in the new year

JBTAprilPLAINFIELD- Families across the 49th State Senate District will soon have more resources readily available to fight the opioid epidemic, thanks to State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood).

Bertino-Tarrant’s new law requires the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) to create and maintain a website to educate people on heroin and prescription opioid abuse. The measure, enacted through House Bill 3161, found bipartisan support as it passed the General Assembly.

“Opioid addiction does not see age, socioeconomic class, race or religion,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “It is vital for our families, friends and neighbors to have resources readily available to help their loved ones kick this deadly habit.”

On Jan. 1, DHS will begin work on a website that will include the warning signs of heroin and opioid addiction, helpful tips for parents on how to discuss the dangers of addiction with their children, available treatment options and services and other related information.

“This website will help save lives,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “It is absolutely critical that we work together as a state to combat this epidemic. If we can save one life, it is worth it.”

Will County saw a record number of heroin-related deaths in 2016; this was an increase of more than 40 percent from 2015. According to the Will County coroner’s office, 77 people died in Will County due to opioid overdoses in 2016.

“This new resource will help equip Will County residents with essential information to save lives,” Dr. Kathleen Burke, Director of Substance Use Initiatives, Will County Executive’s Office said. “Education is a key element to end the opioid overdose epidemic in communities across Illinois. Our hope is providing parents and loved ones with the right tools will help individuals seek treatment sooner. We look forward to working with Senator Bertino-Tarrant to continue to fight this crisis and eliminate this problem from our communities once and for all.”

Illinois colleges to have a uniform policy to accept military training

TINLEY PARK- Starting hastings 011017Jan. 1, Illinois universities and colleges must establish a policy for awarding academic course credit for military training, thanks to State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park).

One of the biggest challenges facing returning servicemen and -women is figuring out how military training credits transfer to college credit. The new law will help standardize the process.

“Illinois’ veterans have valuable on-site educational experience,” Hastings said. “It’s our duty and honor to ensure returning veterans receive credit for the life and academic expertise they gained while serving our nation.”

Under the current system, universities and community colleges attempt to translate military experience into college credits, with confusion arising from inconsistencies such as descriptions for military training and college courses that don’t always match up perfectly. A military acronym on a transcript may also refer to a different class or curriculum depending on which branch of service uses it.

Often a credit transfer becomes a matter of the higher education institution’s willingness to research ways to find equivalent civilian academic courses. A standardized system would end confusion and create an easier transition for our military personnel, Hastings said.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, over 773,000 veterans are now using their GI Bill benefits to go to college, spending a collective $11 billion a year.

“Requiring veterans to take repetitive and redundant academic classes is a waste of time and money,” Hastings said. “The entire process can be discouraging. We need to help streamline the process to promote an easy transition for veterans into civilian life by cutting out the bureaucracy.”

Hastings believes returning veterans may be the key to solving workforce shortages in Illinois.

“The quicker our military men and women complete their college degrees; the faster they can enter the workforce,” Hastings said. “Our veterans have real life in the field training. Their experiences in high pressure situations make them ideal candidates to fill vacancies as registered nurses, EMT’s and other medical professions.”

House Bill 3701 passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support.