04212021CM0709SPRINGFIELD – To undo discrimination the LGBTQ+ community historically faced in the military, State Senator Tom Cullerton (D- Villa Park) has passed legislation that would allow veterans who received an “Other than Honorable” discharge for their sexuality or gender identity to begin receiving state veterans benefits.

“As a veteran, I understand how much these benefits from the state can help veterans. From housing to assistance with burial, state benefits play a large role in supporting our veterans,” Cullerton said. “For someone not to receive this assistance solely because of their sexual orientation or gender identity is outdated and unfair.”

Although the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy – which barred gay and lesbian military members from openly serving in the military – was repealed in 2011, people with OTH dischargers from years ago are still not able to receive state veterans benefits. According to a report from Harvard Law School, more than 100,000 service members were expelled from the military between World War II and 2011 for their actual or perceived sexual orientation.

House Bill 1290 would allow veterans whose discharge was solely based on their sexual orientation or gender identity to begin receiving state veterans benefits.

“Our veterans have given up so much for our country, and they have earned the right to receive the benefits that they have too long been denied,” Cullerton said. “No one should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The measure passed the Senate on Tuesday.  

Construction release1VILLA PARK – State Senator Tom Cullerton (D- Villa Park) announced that DuPage County is set to receive nearly $6 million in grant money from the Rebuild Illinois plan.

“As the summer construction season gets underway, I am excited to see that our community will be receiving more funding to improve our roads and bridges,” Cullerton said. “Modernizing our state’s infrastructure is vital to bringing travelers from near and far to Illinois.”

This round of Rebuild Illinois grants is the fourth of six rounds to be distributed to advance municipal, township and county projects across the state. The grants are overseen by the Illinois Department of Transportation and will total $1.5 billion when all rounds of grants are distributed.

“As more funding is secured, the projects in DuPage County will bring in good-paying jobs to the community,” Cullerton said. “Investments in our infrastructure has countless payoffs, from shortening people’s commute to drawing visitors to the area.”

Through these grants, Illinois has already seen the improvement of 3,000 miles of highway, completed over 180 bridges and launched hundreds of other infrastructure projects across the state. It is the fourth installment of funding allocated under the plan.

051420210400SPRINGFIELD – In a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing Friday, State Senator Tom Cullerton (D- Villa Park) led a discussion regarding a recently released report on the November COVID-19 outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home. The veterans’ home is ran by the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.

“My colleagues and I were all horrified to hear about the devastating loss of life at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home this past fall and winter,” said Cullerton, chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee. “I’ve read the full OIG report and it is clear to me that there was a breakdown of communication between staff and management at the facility.”

The report comes as a result of months of investigative work and staff interviews done by the Illinois Department of Human Services Office of Inspector General to determine what caused a COVID-19 outbreak in the LaSalle Veterans Home that killed 36 residents.

According to the report, there was a failure to effectively communicate and train employees at the Home. Additionally, the report found that IDVA leadership also failed to actively communicate and delegate clear responsibilities to the home prior to and during the outbreaks.

Since then, former IDVA Director Linda Chapa LaVia and other members of IDVA leadership have stepped down. Terry Prince, a 31-year Navy veteran who has had prior experience running veterans’ homes in Ohio, was appointed to the position.

“From reading the report and hearing the testimony today, it is clear that there are areas that need to be improved,” Cullerton, a veteran himself, said. “While the testimony today provided some clarity to the situation, we need to see real changes to the communication methods that failed these veterans. I have faith that Director Prince will implement the changes needed to prevent any tragedy like this in the future.”

Cullerton looks forward to continued conversations with Director Prince and representatives from IDPH and the governor’s office. 

042821HAO00275SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Tom Cullerton (D- Villa Park) is fighting to restore benefits to veterans who were subject to an “other than honorable” discharge from the military for their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Those who valiantly served their country should be honored with benefits no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Cullerton, chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. “This measure will be a step toward undoing the discrimination the LGBTQ+ community has historically faced in the military.”

According to a 2020 report from Harvard Law School, more than 100,000 service members were expelled from the military between World War II and the 2011 repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – the policy that barred gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation. These discharges were considered OTH, which kept these service members from receiving state and federal benefits.

House Bill 1290 would change a person’s OTH discharge to an honorable discharge if their OTH discharge was solely due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. This would allow people discharged for this reason to begin receiving state veterans benefits.

“Despite the repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy a decade ago, LGBTQ+ veterans are still unnecessarily facing the struggles of being denied benefits,” said Cullerton, who is a veteran himself. “It’s time we restore these benefits to these individuals who so rightfully deserve them.”

The measure passed the Senate Veterans Affairs committee and will now move to the floor for a full vote in the Senate.

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CONTACT SENATOR CULLERTON

Welcome to the official website of Senator Tom Cullerton. Please fill out our contact form to contact Senator Cullerton directly or you may call either of our offices. We look forward to hearing from you.

District Office
338 S. Ardmore Ave.
Villa Park, IL 60181
P: (630) 903-6662
F: (630) 903-6643

Springfield Office
122 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
P: (217) 782-9463