Springfield, IL -(Effingham Radio)- Gov. Bruce Rauner today signed legislation that streamlines veteran identification services and makes it easier for homeless veterans to access needed medical benefits. Rauner also made Nov. 4th GI Bill of Rights Day to pay tribute to the American Legion committee, chaired by the 29th Governor of Illinois, that wrote the historic Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944.
“We should seize every opportunity to streamline services to better honor and support those who selflessly gave so much to our country,” Rauner said. “Providing a free medical record for homeless veterans will help them more easily access the critical services and benefits they earned, and the ID designations and license plates represent tokens of our gratitude for the monumental sacrifices made by Illinois veterans to protect our freedoms.”
To make it easier for veterans to acquire the benefits they deserve, Rauner enacted HB 4848, requiring health care providers to provide one free, complete copy of a patient’s medical records if the patient is an indigent homeless veteran.
Also among the bills was HB 4332, legislation expanding acceptable forms of proof needed to obtain a veteran’s designation on identification cards, simplifying the process for Illinois veterans.
Rauner also signed into law HB 4576 and SB 2225, allowing combat veterans and veterans who earned the Southeast Asia Service Medal during Operation Desert Storm to have the feat reflected on their auto license plates.
“The Veterans of Desert Storm and Desert Shield deserve this recognition for their service to our country and our state,” said Rep. Jerry Long, R-Streator. “It is heart-warming when legislation that honors our veterans receives such overwhelming bipartisan support. Legislators on both sides of the aisle were thrilled to sign on as co-sponsors when it was first introduced. It’s important that we recognize those who selflessly put their lives on the line for us.”
“I want to thank one of my constituents who served in Operation Desert Storm and who brought this idea forward,” State Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris said. “If our veterans who served in Southwest Asia want to be able to have on their license plate that they served our country, they should be able to do that. I want to thank all our veterans for their service, selflessness, and bravery. You are the backbone of our great country.”
In addition to the veteran’s designation bills, Rauner enacted HB 4954, providing that each year, the 4th of November be observed throughout the state as GI Bill of Rights Day, commemorating the 1944 landmark legislation that provided benefits to World War II veterans.
“I am very proud of this distinction for our community to remember and celebrate our local influence on the legislation to help our returning soldiers from World War II,” said Rep. John Cavaletto, R-Salem. “The Department of Illinois American Legion recognized Post 128 as the birthplace of the G.I. Bill of Rights in 1958, and this designation is very fitting on the 75th anniversary year of that meeting by eight Legion members back in 1943. I want to thank the Salem Historical Commission and the American Legion for bringing this idea to me for consideration.”
“It is an honor to be the chief co-sponsor on this historic legislation that will honor those eight American Legion members who met Nov. 4, 1943, including our own former Gov. John Stelle from McLeansboro,” said Rep. Dave Severin, R-Benton.
“Governor Stelle’s work and efforts to ensure the passage of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 is well-documented. Stelle was the one leading the American Legion committee and after that success with the G.I. Bill, Stelle was selected as National Commander of the American Legion for 1945-46.”
“House Bill 4954 designates November 4th as GI Bill of Rights Day, taking steps toward not only underscoring the importance of landmark legislation benefiting our veterans, but also highlighting the need for future legislation that protects and cares for our servicemen and women,” said Senator Fowler R-Harrisburg. “It was my privilege to be the chief sponsor to this bill, and I would like to thank Governor Rauner for his support of this measure.”
Rauner also signed into law HB 4849, allowing the National Guard Construction Fund to be used for all construction costs, including maintenance and repairs, and ensures the Illinois Department of Military Affairs is federally compliant in distributing funds for construction projects.
“We must continuously keep our American heroes at the forefront of our minds and hearts,” state Sen. Neil Anderson, R-Andalusia said. “These new laws do that by helping and honoring them. I want to thank Gov. Rauner for signing them into law, and I most importantly, I want to thank all our veterans for their service and sacrifice.”