Continuing his work from 2015 and 2016 on the Veteran Suicide Task Force, State Sen. Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo) is working with other senators to pass legislation implementing its recommendations.
“Approximately 20 veterans take their own lives each day. Losing one veteran a day to suicide is too many. The Veteran Suicide Task Force did great work identifying potential causes of and possible solutions to this epidemic,” Schimpf said.
Schimpf is the Chief Co-Sponsor of House Bill 2647 currently moving in the Illinois Senate to act on some of the recommendations made in the Illinois Veteran Suicide Task Force Report. "Suicides are increasing nationwide and across all demographics, but some factors linked to their military service increase the vulnerability of our veterans to this threat," Schimpf stated. The rate of veteran suicide is significantly higher than that of the general population.
House Bill 2647 would help the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs to better coordinate with the federal Department of Defense and better prepare returning veterans for schooling or the job market. It includes several key components, including targeted outreach to veterans in heavy casualty units or in units where a service member committed suicide. Additionally, the legislation calls for enhanced engagement with the US Dept. of Veteran Affairs and the increased involvement of Veterans' Assistance Commissions and other service associations.
Lastly, House Bill 2647 requires creation of a public awareness campaign to raise awareness about the challenges facing veterans and dispel myths associated with grieving, suicide and mental healing.
Senator Schimpf is working to ensure that the creation of any new programs is done in a fiscally-responsible manner. House Bill 2647 currently awaits further consideration on 2nd reading as the Senator prepares further amendments to make the legislation more efficient.