Sen. Thomas Cullerton

Filed: 5/25/2017





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2    AMENDMENT NO. ______. Amend House Bill 2647 by replacing
3everything after the enacting clause with the following:
4    "Section 5. The Department of Veterans Affairs Act is
5amended by adding Section 2h as follows:
6    (20 ILCS 2805/2h new)
7    Sec. 2h. Task Force on Veterans' Suicide recommendations.
8The provisions of this Section are based on the recommendations
9in the final report of the Task Force on Veterans' Suicide,
10published on December 1, 2016. The Department shall adopt any
11rules necessary to implement this Section. The Department shall
12seek available federal funding, grants, or private funding to
13help fund the requirements of this Section; or the Department
14shall collaborate with other departments, existing veterans'
15organizations, nonprofit organizations, or private
16organizations to implement the requirements of this Section.



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1        (1) The Department shall reach out and coordinate with
2    the United States Department of Veterans' Affairs in order
3    to identify veterans returning from service in combat
4    units. The Department shall establish a proactive outreach
5    program for veterans that served in combat units.
6        (2) The Department or the Department in collaboration
7    with not-for-profit organizations shall engage in a public
8    awareness campaign concerning the trauma and internal
9    injuries suffered by veterans in order to promote
10    understanding and acceptance from the general public. The
11    public awareness campaign shall work to dispel the myths
12    associated with grieving, suicide, and mental health
13    healing. The Department shall evaluate existing programs,
14    including, but not limited to, the Suicide Prevention
15    Alliance under the Suicide Prevention, Education, and
16    Treatment Act, and coordinate messaging using messaging
17    guidelines that existing programs have found to be
18    successful.
19        (3) The Department shall provide training to frontline
20    employees at veterans service organizations established
21    under this Act on mental health services to identify
22    veterans who might be at risk of suicidal thoughts. This
23    training may include, but not be limited to, mental health
24    first aid training and amplified suicide advanced training
25    programs. The Department shall provide assistance to
26    Veterans Assistance Commissions established under Section



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1    9 of the Military Veterans Assistance Act and veterans'
2    service associations, including, but not limited to, the
3    American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and AMVETS, in
4    providing the training under this paragraph to the
5    employees of the Veterans Assistance Commissions and
6    veterans' service associations that seek participation in
7    the Department's training events.
8        The Department shall have priority for hiring combat
9    veterans to serve as veteran service officers at veterans
10    service organizations established under this Act for the
11    purpose of having veteran services officers who are able to
12    properly relate to fellow combat veterans.
13        (4) The Department shall collaborate with institutions
14    of higher education to address environmental factors that
15    could negatively impact a veteran's ability to learn in a
16    traditional classroom setting. The Department, in
17    coordination with institutions of higher education, shall
18    provide proactive outreach as part of an educational
19    success program for veterans experiencing difficulties in
20    higher education.
21        (5) The Department shall coordinate with existing
22    veterans' associations and military organizations to
23    provide a family preparation course concerning the
24    emotional cycle of deployment that is designed to help a
25    family unit adjust to changes in discharged and returning
26    veterans and inform the family members of where to go to



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1    seek assistance. This course shall be made available to the
2    family of a veteran prior to the discharge and homecoming
3    of the veteran.
4        (6) The Department shall reach out to the United States
5    Department of Veterans' Affairs to obtain information on
6    returning veterans and develop a transition program for
7    returning veterans that reside in the State including
8    information on local organizations that provide resources
9    or services for veterans that a veteran can access.
10        (7) The Department shall collaborate with non-profits,
11    businesses, and employers in the State that focus on the
12    needs of employees who are veterans seeking employment and
13    that support employees who are veterans.
14        (8) The Department, in collaboration with veterans'
15    organizations in the State, shall coordinate with the
16    United States Department of Veterans' Affairs to promote
17    their peer specialist program and collaborate with outside
18    programs to establish a peer-to-peer program.".