State Representative Dan Swanson passed legislation through the Illinois House to allow indigent homeless veterans one free complete copy of their patient records if those records are being used in support of a claim for federal Veterans’ disability benefits.

“For Veterans applying for federal disability benefits, the cost of copies of their own medical files can be cost-prohibitive for Veterans of little to no means,” said Rep. Swanson.  “Hopefully, this bill will help remove one more barrier to those Veterans receiving benefits to which they are entitled and well-deserved.”

Swanson, a US Army and Illinois Army National Guard Veteran, served as Superintendent of the Henry County Veterans Assistance Commission providing financial aid and transportation services to Iowa City, Iowa Veterans Hospital for Henry County Veterans.  From December 1 2013 to November 30, 2014, 16 volunteer drivers drove over 47,000 miles, made 219 trips to Iowa City VA Center and transported 667 veterans for medical care.  In that role, Swanson also provided financial assistance to veterans to assist paying utility, rent and purchase food.      

House Bill 4848 passed unanimously in the Illinois House on April 20 and will now proceed to the Illinois Senate.  Proponents of the legislation included the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Illinois State Medical Society (ISMS), National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

Swanson also passed House Bill 4849 last week, a bill ensuring that the Illinois Department of Military Affairs (IDMA) is within full compliance with federal laws pertaining to distribution of funds for the purposes of capital improvements and rehabilitation construction costs.  HB 4849 also passed unanimously and is now in the Illinois Senate.

State Representative Dan Swanson (R-Alpha) teamed up with the Lieutenant Governor’s Office in crafting legislation which passed the Illinois House on Friday which allows high school seniors to wear their military uniforms at their graduation ceremonies, if they are otherwise in good standing with his or her branch of the military.

“No student in good standing, who has completed boot camp, should be denied the privilege of wearing their dress blues at their High School Commencement Ceremony,” said Rep. Dan Swanson, Chief Sponsor of House Bill 5561. “I am proud to stand up for these young warriors who are standing up for our freedom through their military service.”

Current law allows local school boards to adopt a school uniform or dress code policy for graduation ceremonies and does not preclude a local board from prohibiting military dress uniforms. Several cases across the country have presented, banning students from wearing their military dress uniforms at graduation ceremonies. Currently, California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New Hampshire have laws on the books protecting students who have completed military boot camp in wearing their dress blues to graduation.

Closer to home, a student from McHenry West High School in McHenry County, in Northeastern Illinois, was barred from wearing a dress military uniform because of local school board rules. This was among several stories that prompted this legislative initiative and push for a change.

“We should all be proud of these young adults’ service and simply feel that they should be allowed to display their uniform at this momentous occasion in their lives,” said Swanson.
State Representative Dan Swanson hosted Cambridge resident Sierra Brown as an Honorary Page in the Illinois House during House Committee Deadline week on Tuesday, April 10th. 

Sierra is a Senior at Cambridge Junior/Senior High School where she is President of the Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCLA) Chapter, FFA Historian, active in Leadership, Ethics & Values (LEV) and Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FAC), serves on the Student Council, Cheer, Student Mentor. Additionally, Sierra is in her church praise band, dance, pageant director and she created “A Hand to Hold” through her church for community service and volunteerism. At Cambridge High School, Sierra is on the High Honor Roll while taking dual-credit courses with the Western Illinois University Honors Program as well as the Black Hawk College Honors Program. Sierra was recognized as 2017 Miss Blackhawk Valley Outstanding Teen and is an intern with the Village of Cambridge.

“Sierra is an exceptional young woman I am honored to host as an Honorary Page in the Illinois House,” said Rep. Swanson. “Sierra was able to witness a critical part of the legislative process in action during committee deadline week. Sierra shows exceptional community leadership skills and is strongly active in her faith community. My colleagues in the House were impressed to get to know Sierra and felt she was a fine example of her community.”