Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of HB2628
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Full Text of HB2628  102nd General Assembly




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1    AN ACT concerning veterans.
2    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
3represented in the General Assembly:
4    Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the
5Veterans Suicide Prevention Commission Act.
6    Section 5. Findings. The General Assembly finds the
8        (1) One of the highest priorities and moral duties
9    Illinoisans can undertake is to support those Illinois
10    citizens who have served or are serving our country and
11    State in the United States Armed Forces. Their military
12    service is recognized whether they served on active duty,
13    in the reserves, or as a member of the Illinois National
14    Guard, or have retired. The families of service members
15    are equally recognized.
16        (2) The General Assembly is committed to the members
17    of our military community, and to strengthening their
18    systems of care and supports in a manner that is
19    responsive to their needs by building upon existing
20    collaborations and resources.
21        (3) There are more than 2,000,000 members of the
22    Illinois military community representing about 16% of the
23    Illinois population.



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1        (4) Illinois ranks high among the states in the nation
2    with over 40,000 military personnel who have been deployed
3    to support recent conflicts and overseas contingency
4    operations.
5        (5) Illinois service members have given the full
6    measure with the loss of their lives while serving their
7    country and State.
8        (6) Illinois service members have returned home with
9    battle wounds from serving their country and State that
10    are both external and internal.
11        (7) Unprecedented numbers of Illinois' service members
12    have or are experiencing multiple deployments to the
13    active theaters of war, separating them from family,
14    community, and traditional supports for extended periods
15    of time.
16        (8) Service members and their families often endure
17    extended periods of adjustment when faced with physical
18    and psychological disabilities, including post-traumatic
19    stress and traumatic brain injuries, and other
20    debilitating health conditions that pose long-standing
21    challenges for our veterans and their families and for our
22    State.
23        (9) State and local elected officials, including State
24    agency heads, State legislators, and representatives of
25    federal agencies, have a shared responsibility for
26    providing services and support to our military community.



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1        (10) Meeting the needs of the military community is
2    not the sole responsibility of one agency or entity, but a
3    collective responsibility of the entire State that
4    requires a high level of collaboration and cooperation
5    between key stakeholders.
6        (11) Other non-government members of our State are
7    integral to the systems of care and supports for the
8    military community, including military and veterans
9    service and advocacy organizations that strive to address
10    the unique challenges faced by this population such as
11    behavioral health issues of mental illness and substance
12    use disorders, serious physical injury, employment,
13    education, and housing.
14        (12) A unified, seamless, and systematic method of
15    accessing services for those who have served our country
16    and our State is needed, particularly in the areas of
17    behavioral health issues of mental illness and substance
18    use disorders, serious physical injury, employment,
19    education, homelessness and housing, and legal assistance.
20        (13) The Illinois Joining Forces Foundation was
21    created by Public Act 98-986 to serve and ensure the
22    long-term sustainability of Illinois Joining Forces, a
23    public-private network of military and veteran-serving
24    organizations critically important for the support of the
25    State's military community.
26        (14) A Veterans Suicide Prevention Commission to plan



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1    and coordinate the work of State agencies is needed to
2    develop systems of services and supports that reflect a
3    coordinated collective community approach to serve our
4    military community.
5    Section 10. Commission; purpose. The Veterans Suicide
6Prevention Commission is created. The Commission shall drive
7the State's strategic vision for assessing and achieving the
8successful transition, adjustment, and reintegration of
9service members of the armed forces, veterans, and their
10families through the coordination of the collective efforts of
11public and private organizations throughout the State. The
12Commission shall facilitate, collaborate, and coordinate the
13efforts of these organizations to effectively and responsively
14meet the needs of the military community. In performing these
15responsibilities, the Commission shall conduct planning,
16research, education, training, and evaluation activities to
17improve the operations and coordination of the systems of care
18and supports. The Commission shall coordinate its activities
19with those of Illinois Joining Forces and other advocacy
20organizations for service members of the armed forces,
21veterans, and their families for the purpose of preventing
22veteran suicide.
23    Section 15. Composition.
24    (a) The Commission shall consist of the following members:



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1        (1) The Governor or his or her designee, who shall
2    serve as Chairperson.
3        (2) The Directors of Military Affairs and Veterans'
4    Affairs or their designees, who shall serve as co-vice
5    chairs.
6        (3) The Lieutenant Governor or his or her designee.
7        (4) The Deputy Governor of Health and Human Services,
8    or the equivalent position if there is no Deputy Governor,
9    or his or her designee.
10        (5) One member appointed by the President of the
11    Senate.
12        (6) One member appointed by the Minority Leader of the
13    Senate.
14        (7) One member appointed by the Speaker of the House
15    of Representatives.
16        (8) One member appointed by the Minority Leader of the
17    House of Representatives.
18        (9) The Secretary of State or his or her designee.
19        (10) The Attorney General or his or her designee.
20        (11) The Treasurer or his or her designee.
21        (12) The Comptroller or his or her designee.
22        (13) The State Superintendent of Education or his or
23    her designee.
24        (14) The Executive Director of the Illinois Board of
25    Higher Education or his or her designee.
26        (15) The Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court



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1    or his or her designee.
2        (16) The Director of Aging or his or her designee.
3        (17) The Director of Agriculture or his or her
4    designee.
5        (18) The Director of Central Management Services or
6    his or her designee.
7        (19) The Director of Children and Family Services or
8    his or her designee.
9        (20) The Director of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
10    or his or her designee.
11        (21) The Director of Corrections or his or her
12    designee.
13        (22) The Director of Employment Security or his or her
14    designee.
15        (23) The Director of the Division of Mental Health or
16    his or her designee.
17        (24) The Secretary of Financial and Professional
18    Regulation or his or her designee.
19        (25) The Director of Healthcare and Family Services or
20    his or her designee.
21        (26) The Director of Human Rights or his or her
22    designee.
23        (27) The Secretary of Human Services or his or her
24    designee.
25        (28) The Secretary of Innovation and Technology or his
26    or her designee.



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1        (29) The Director of Insurance or his or her designee.
2        (30) The Director of Labor or his or her designee.
3        (31) The Director of Natural Resources or his or her
4    designee.
5        (32) The Director of Public Health or his or her
6    designee.
7        (33) The Director of Revenue or his or her designee.
8        (34) The Chairperson of the Illinois Joining Forces
9    Board or his or her designee.
10        (35) One member designated by Illinois Joining Forces.
11    (b) As necessary, the Commission may appoint by majority
12vote individuals representing the following:
13        (1) The Illinois Army National Guard.
14        (2) The Illinois Air National Guard.
15        (3) The United States Army or United States Army
16    Reserve.
17        (4) The United States Air Force or United States Air
18    Force Reserve.
19        (5) The United States Navy or United States Navy
20    Reserve.
21        (6) The United States Marine Corps or United States
22    Marine Corps Reserve.
23        (7) The United States Coast Guard or United States
24    Coast Guard Reserve.
25        (8) The Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion,
26    the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Disabled



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1    Veterans of America, or any other non-profit organization
2    that solely serves veterans and qualifies for an exemption
3    under 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(19) of the Internal Revenue
4    Code.
5        (9) Military spouses.
6        (10) The brain injury services community that serves
7    veterans.
8        (11) The substance abuse services community that
9    serves veterans.
10        (12) The community-based mental health counseling
11    service community that serves veterans or has significant
12    expertise in the treatment of veterans.
13        (13) Military and military family advocacy networks.
14        (14) Practicing behavioral healthcare specialists that
15    serve veterans or have significant expertise in the
16    treatment of veterans.
17        (15) Community faith-based and spiritual leaders who
18    have experience working with service members, veterans,
19    and their families.
20    (c) The Commission may invite federal agencies such as the
21U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Department of
22Labor, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development,
23and military services agencies to participate on the
25    (d) The Departments of Military Affairs and Veterans'
26Affairs shall provide administrative support to the



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1Commission. The Governor's Office shall provide additional
2support with respect to compliance with State ethics laws, the
3Open Meetings Act, and the Freedom of Information Act.
4    (e) A simple majority of the members of the Commission
5shall constitute a quorum.
6    (f) All recommendations made by the Commission shall
7require approval of a majority of the total membership of the
9    (g) The Commission shall hold at least 4 meetings each
10year, but otherwise shall meet at the call of the Chairperson
11or co-vice chairs. Meetings of the Commission may be conducted
12in person or via telephone or video conference and shall be
13open to the public.
14    (h) The Commission may adopt policies, procedures, and
15whatever additional rules for an organizational structure, and
16policies and procedures for the Commission's internal
17operations as are necessary to carry out its function and
19    (i) Members of the Commission shall be appointed for a
20term of 4 years. Upon expiration of the initial terms, each
21member shall be reappointed for a term of 4 additional years
22whereupon their terms will expire requiring the appointment of
23new members. Members shall serve at the pleasure of the
24Governor. Vacancies resulting for reasons other than the
25expiration of a term shall be filled by the Governor for the
26remainder of the term.



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1    (j) Members shall receive no compensation for their
3    (k) Service members, veterans, and their families shall be
4given priority for seats on the Commission, if possible.
5    (l) All departments, agencies, boards, and commissions of
6the executive branch shall fully cooperate with the Commission
7in carrying out the purposes of this Act and shall provide
8staff support and other assistance as requested.
9    Section 20. Duties.
10    (a) The primary focus of the Commission shall be on
11improving the efficiency and effectiveness of those State
12programs and services related to the military community. The
13Commission shall review the activities related to the military
14community of each State agency to ensure there is efficient
15and effective coordination and alignment with the needs of the
16military community. Accountability shall be promoted by
17tracking the progress of initiatives and programs and
18services; developing strategic collaboration among public
19(primarily the Department of Public Health, the Department of
20Human Services' Division of Mental Health, and the Department
21of Veterans' Affairs) and private partners (primarily Illinois
22Joining Forces); and increasing public awareness of the issues
23relating to the services and support of the military community
24to prevent veteran suicide.
25    (b) The Commission shall promote coordination and



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1efficiency among State, county, and local units of government
2and municipalities through knowledge sharing, mobilization of
3resources, and an aligned approach to serving the military
4community to prevent veteran suicide.
5    (c) The Commission shall issue periodic reports on,
6without limitation, its establishment of strategic goals, its
7public research agenda, and its performance and progress in
8meeting its goals.
9    (d) The Commission shall monitor the progress of the
10implementation of the Strategic Action Plan on Homelessness
11developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
12the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
13Administration's (SAMHSA) Service Members, Veterans, and their
14Families Technical Assistance Center, SAMHSA's Policy
15Academies, and SAMHSA's Implementation Academies as they
16address the needs of the service members and veterans
17community, and their families, to prevent veteran suicide.
18    (e) Each member agency on the Commission must designate a
19member of its management staff as its Ombudsman for the
20military community. The Ombudsman shall be that agency's
21primary point of contact for military community issues. Each
22member agency shall also designate one full-time employee to
23provide staff assistance to the Commission.
24    Section 25. Transparency. In addition to whatever policies
25or procedures it may adopt, the Commission shall be subject to



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1the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act and the Open
2Meetings Act.
3    Section 30. Severability. The provisions of this Act are
4severable under Section 1.31 of the Statute on Statutes.