Illinois’s Republican Representative Judy Biggert is making an effort to keep veterans in her state informed about benefits and medical information that affect them. Last week she, along with a VA Hospital Director, Sharon Helman, and the VA Regional Director Duane Honeycutt, met with about 50 local veterans at the Bolingbrook Municipal Building for a forum on veterans’ concerns.
One of the main successes discussed at the forum was the possibility of building a new veterans’ facility where the Silver Cross Hospital is currently located in Joliet. The Silver Cross Hospital is moving to a new location soon, leaving the building available. The effort to garner approval for the project from the Secretary of Veterans affairs was a process Biggert started three years ago, and according to her, is going to pay off when work on the new facility starts next year, tentatively.
With this facility, the Veterans Administration would be able to offer the services of various specialists and physical therapists to vets in the area, as well as consultations on veterans’ medical and health issues. There are other veterans’ facilities such as one in Hines which also offer these services, but none in the Joliet area, which would service a few surrounding counties.
In addition to sharing good news about the possibility of a new veterans’ facility in the area, Rep. Biggert and the other VA representatives fielded questions from the veterans directly. The issues presented varied from complaints about specific sites to concerns about the upcoming budget cuts and how they will affect veterans benefits.
Many veterans are worried about the Ryan plan, a 2012 federal budget cut proposal presented by Republican House Representative Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin. Part of the cut proposed would result in a reduction of the Social Security disability benefits received by vets who also receive VA disability benefits.
Rep. Biggert expressed her understanding that the cuts are a cause of disagreement in the House and beyond, and that such cuts would unfortunately affect many veterans. At the same time, she was firm on the point that budget cuts have to be made. In spite of the cuts, she promises to continue to support the concerns of veterans and those on the military in every way possible.
Rep. Biggert sets an example of a genuine effort to help veterans, a stance which might be surprising to some who question the humanitarian concerns of the Republican GOP which is pushing for drastic federal budget cuts in the following year. Through her tangible efforts in establishing a new veterans’ facility in Joliet, Biggert proves that politics don’t negate the fact that it is important to support those who are needy in our society, especially when if they have given of themselves for the protection of our country.
With one such example of concern for the cause of veterans in the House, one can only hope the sentiment is prevalent enough to influences the decisions that affect veterans, as the budget continues to be worked out.