Military and Veterans
As a leader of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I work every day to ensure that our men and women in uniform are the best trained, best equipped force in the world and that their families receive the support and recognition they deserve. The needs of all our servicemembers - active duty and reserve, in theatre, or here at home – are our first concern.
Thousands of Illinois’s finest serve in the military today. Illinois’ 13,000 National Guard men and women and the tens of thousands of active duty, reservists, and civilian personnel serving at Naval Station Great Lakes, Rock Island Arsenal and Scott Air Force Base defend our nation every day from domestic emergencies and foreign threats. I have worked to secure critical support and resources over multiple years for military missions in or near Illinois, supporting thousands of jobs.
In addition to advocating for our troops, I support those who have served in uniform. Veterans – 750,000 of whom live in Illinois – deserve our deepest gratitude and unqualified support. We, as a nation, have promised veterans that in exchange for their service they will have access to certain benefits and care. These men and women answered the nation's call to serve, but doing so put strain on them, their families, and their finances. It is our duty in Congress to ease this burden as much as possible and deliver on our promise.
Illinois plays a critical role in defending our nation from domestic emergencies and foreign threats through its 13,000 National Guard personnel and the tens of thousands of active duty, reserve, and civilian personnel serving across the state. As the Vice Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Durbin fought to strengthen Rock Island Arsenal’s manufacturing capabilities, as well as create a new advanced manufacturing center. Senator Durbin also supported a new Cyber Protection Team for the Illinois National Guard and bringing a Department of Defense Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute to Illinois.
Senator Durbin has ensured that Scott Air Force Base and Naval Station Great Lakes remain one-of-a-kind military installations for their respective military services. In addition, the Lovell Federal Health Care Facility in North Chicago—a joint Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs pilot program that Senator Durbin proposed several years ago—has proven a successful demonstration of the increased quality of care and cost savings that can be achieved through collaboration.
As the Vice Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Durbin takes very seriously his responsibility to ensure that the men and women in uniform receive funding for everything they need to protect our country, as well as the need to ensure that the Department of Defense spends these funds efficiently and effectively. Senator Durbin led the charge for an increase in combat pay and the family separation allowance for deployed men and women. Senator Durbin also led the effort on reservist pay so that federal employees who serve in the National Guard or Reserve are compensated for lost income when mobilized for an extended period away from jobs that pay more than their military compensation.
The military must be treated with dignity and respect, which is why Senator Durbin supported significant reforms to the military justice system as well as increasing funds in order to improve the ways that the Department prevents military sexual assault, assists victims, and prosecutes perpetrators. Senator Durbin has done this while cutting more than $10 billion in waste, duplication, or underperforming defense programs each year to ensure that federal funds are spent on the right priorities and programs that protect our nation and support our troops.
In addition to advocating for our troops, Senator Durbin supports those who have served in uniform. Veterans—750,000 of whom live in Illinois—deserve our deepest gratitude and unqualified support. This country promised veterans that in exchange for their service they would have access to certain benefits and care. These men and women answered the nation's call to serve, but doing so put strain on them, their families, and their finances. Congress should ease this burden as much as possible and deliver on our promise.
Senator Durbin has led the way on improvements to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system, including establishing and expanding the Family Caregivers Program, providing care for women veterans, investing in medical research, and helping those struggling with mental health needs. In addition, Senator Durbin has supported efforts to prevent veteran homelessness, boost educational and job opportunities, and ensure that veterans have access to the benefits they deserve.