Public Act 100-0482
HB2647 EnrolledLRB100 08180 MJP 18276 b

    AN ACT concerning State government.
    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
represented in the General Assembly:
    Section 5. The Department of Veterans Affairs Act is
amended by adding Section 2h as follows:
    (20 ILCS 2805/2h new)
    Sec. 2h. Task Force on Veterans' Suicide recommendations.
The provisions of this Section are based on the recommendations
in the final report of the Task Force on Veterans' Suicide,
published on December 1, 2016. The Department shall adopt any
rules necessary to implement this Section. The Department shall
seek available federal funding, grants, or private funding to
help fund the requirements of this Section; or the Department
shall collaborate with other departments, existing veterans'
organizations, nonprofit organizations, or private
organizations to implement the requirements of this Section.
        (1) The Department shall reach out and coordinate with
    the United States Department of Veterans' Affairs in order
    to identify veterans returning from service in combat
    units. The Department shall establish a proactive outreach
    program for veterans that served in combat units.
        (2) The Department or the Department in collaboration
    with not-for-profit organizations shall engage in a public
    awareness campaign concerning the trauma and internal
    injuries suffered by veterans in order to promote
    understanding and acceptance from the general public. The
    public awareness campaign shall work to dispel the myths
    associated with grieving, suicide, and mental health
    healing. The Department shall evaluate existing programs,
    including, but not limited to, the Suicide Prevention
    Alliance under the Suicide Prevention, Education, and
    Treatment Act, and coordinate messaging using messaging
    guidelines that existing programs have found to be
        (3) The Department shall provide training to frontline
    employees at veterans service organizations established
    under this Act on mental health services to identify
    veterans who might be at risk of suicidal thoughts. This
    training may include, but not be limited to, mental health
    first aid training and amplified suicide advanced training
    programs. The Department shall provide assistance to
    Veterans Assistance Commissions established under Section
    9 of the Military Veterans Assistance Act and veterans'
    service associations, including, but not limited to, the
    American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and AMVETS, in
    providing the training under this paragraph to the
    employees of the Veterans Assistance Commissions and
    veterans' service associations that seek participation in
    the Department's training events.
        The Department shall have priority for hiring combat
    veterans to serve as veteran service officers at veterans
    service organizations established under this Act for the
    purpose of having veteran services officers who are able to
    properly relate to fellow combat veterans.
        (4) The Department shall collaborate with institutions
    of higher education to address environmental factors that
    could negatively impact a veteran's ability to learn in a
    traditional classroom setting. The Department, in
    coordination with institutions of higher education, shall
    provide proactive outreach as part of an educational
    success program for veterans experiencing difficulties in
    higher education.
        (5) The Department shall coordinate with existing
    veterans' associations and military organizations to
    provide a family preparation course concerning the
    emotional cycle of deployment that is designed to help a
    family unit adjust to changes in discharged and returning
    veterans and inform the family members of where to go to
    seek assistance. This course shall be made available to the
    family of a veteran prior to the discharge and homecoming
    of the veteran.
        (6) The Department shall reach out to the United States
    Department of Veterans' Affairs to obtain information on
    returning veterans and develop a transition program for
    returning veterans that reside in the State including
    information on local organizations that provide resources
    or services for veterans that a veteran can access.
        (7) The Department shall collaborate with non-profits,
    businesses, and employers in the State that focus on the
    needs of employees who are veterans seeking employment and
    that support employees who are veterans.
        (8) The Department, in collaboration with veterans'
    organizations in the State, shall coordinate with the
    United States Department of Veterans' Affairs to promote
    their peer specialist program and collaborate with outside
    programs to establish a peer-to-peer program.