Veterans' Affairs - "First Among Equals" : Issue Topics : Lauzen for Congress Committee
|Veterans' Affairs - "First Among Equals"|
|by Senator Chris Lauzen|
Our sensitive human spirit cannot witness the harsh realities of war without devolving into a darker, damaged condition.
When we send our sons and daughters away to war, we send them “whole.” If they are fortunate enough to return to us, all of them come home injured, whether it’s physically, psychologically, or spiritually. We owe them our gratitude, respect, and care for guaranteeing our security and prosperity.
Although they are heroes rather than victims because they choose to defend the rest of us, they deserve to be treated as “first among equals” because of their sacrifice. Our campaign effort is already gathering volunteers for a Veterans Homecoming Committee which will reconnect each returning soldier to peaceful society and productive occupation, whether it is schooling or work.
In the past during my service in the Illinois State Senate, I sponsored or cosponsored the following benefits for veterans:
• In the 91st GA: Chief Senate Sponsor of HB0134, which lowered property taxes by 85% on veterans’ posts.
• In the 92nd GA: SB0613 Amended the Downstate Police Article of the Pension Code to allow for the purchase of service credit for up to 2 years of military service not immediately preceded by employment.
• In the 93rd GA: Chief Senate Sponsor of SB1069, which provided for the immediate transfer of $300,000 to the Military Family Relief Fund, a measure of relief to soldiers’ families who had been left to bear emotional and financial strains while our troops are deployed overseas.
• In the 93rd GA: Chief Senate Sponsor of HB1423, which provided an additional 80 beds to the Illinois Veterans Home in LaSalle.
• In the 94th GA: SB1776, created the Illinois Patriot Law. Created within the Department of Military Affairs an honorary regiment of Colonels to be known as the Governor's Regiment. Provided that the Governor may bestow the honorary title of Colonel on individuals whose accomplishments, achievements, or service have contributed to the fellowship and goodwill of the State of Illinois. This was modeled after the successful programs of “Alabama Admirals” and “Kentucky Colonels” in those states.
• In the 94th GA: Chief Senate Sponsor of HB756, which created the Veterans’ Memorial Commission.
• In years past, I co-sponsored legislation that provided for (a) policies which ensure that proper military funeral honors are awarded to our nation’s veterans and their spouses; and (b) important property tax relief to veterans as well as lower costs of veterans’ license plates. With my wife, Sarah, and four sons (one commissioned as a U. S. Marine 2nd Lieutenant and another enrolled in the U. S. Navy R.O.T.C.), we host an annual “Wounded Soldier Dodgeball Tournament” and distribute the proceeds to local wounded soldiers.
In the future, if elected to Congress, I will introduce and support legislation to:
• Provide for veterans, service-disabled veterans, and their families to transition back into society and the economy by:
-Increasing support for the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs to expand its services to ensure that returning veterans have a point of contact that is known to those veterans.
-Increasing involvement with national charitable organizations such as the VFW, DAV, and American Legion.
-Supporting local efforts of communities for returning veterans and wounded soldiers from current and previous conflicts.
-Supporting Federal and State legislation to improve education benefits for veterans. The return on investment has been proven to exceed the expenditure, strengthen the economy, and improve the quality of life for veterans and their families.
• Support preference for veteran-owned small businesses contracting with State government and expedite state validation of every “veteran-owned business.” Streamline the process for veteran-owned business having to qualify with the multiple requirements within State and Local governmental agencies and departments.
• Support service-disabled veteran entrepreneurs in the establishment and growth of their enterprises with the same priorities currently enjoyed by other disabled and minority businesses. Priorities should be established for departments of the State of Illinois to purchase a percentage of their procurement from service-disabled veteran-owned businesses, similar to the Federal Program.
• Systematically review service levels at veterans’ hospitals and decentralize routinely-provided services.
As Americans, we enjoy rights, privileges, and advantages that are the envy of the world. We enjoy these good things only because of those past and present brave men and women who have served and sacrificed in our Armed Forces. It is our individual and collective responsibility to fulfill the social contract with those returning warriors who need our love, help, and support.
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