Springfield, IL… Veterans will soon see more flexibility in seeking help for addiction treatment and other mental health services according to the House sponsor of Senate Bill 3401, State Representative Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago). The legislation would amend the Veterans and Servicemembers Court Treatment Act to allow Veteran’s Assistance Commissions (VAC) to provide assessments, mentoring, and treatment programs to veterans. Under current law, veterans can only receive such services at the federal Veteran’s Affairs (VA) office or the Illinois Department of Veteran’s Affairs (IDVA).
“It is imperative that we provide our veterans with the best and quickest treatment possible,” Rep. McAuliffe said. “This bill will increase access to important services for veterans.”
The Veterans and Servicemembers Court Treatment Act was passed because some veterans encounter the criminal justice system as a result of post-traumatic stress, brain injury, and depression that is related to their service to the country. The purpose of the Act was to provide necessary flexibility to meet the specialized problems faced by the veterans who are charged with crimes through the creation of an alternative court system that could provide alternatives to criminal punishment including treatment for mental health issues and addiction issues. VACs are units of local government created by the Military Veterans Assistance Act to provide assistance to veterans.
SB3401 passed the House on a unanimous 111-0 vote. The bill, filed by State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake), previously passed the Senate in April without opposition. The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk for further consideration.