Durbin Meets With VA Secretary Nominee, Presses For Support Of Quincy Veterans' Home & To Protect Veterans From For-Profit Colleges

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) met with Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Robert Wilkie, who has been nominated as the next Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). During the meeting, Durbin discussed ongoing efforts to update the Illinois Veterans’ Home (IVH) at Quincy – a state owned facility – and the importance of improving operations and timely care at VA facilities throughout Illinois and across the country. A photo of today’s meeting is available here

“It was good to meet with Under Secretary Wilkie today to discuss his nomination, goals for the agency, and how we can continue to give our veterans every opportunity to succeed,” Durbin said. “We discussed the role the VA continues to play in supporting IVH Quincy and I’m hoping he would be a willing partner in that effort. Veterans who call Illinois home deserve the very best."

In May, the VA awarded $4,156,722 to the State of Illinois to support the cost of 2016 renovations of the domestic water system for legionella control at the IVH Quincy and help support ongoing improvements at the facility. The VA provides reimbursements for 2/3 of eligible State Veterans Home construction and renovations projects, in addition to providing ongoing financial and technical support to IVH Quincy.  This funding comes just months after Governor Bruce Rauner finally announced a detailed plan of action for ensuring the safety of residents, family, and staff at IVH Quincy.  The VA is also planning a site visit with a team of experts to IVH Quincy in August at Senator Durbin and Duckworth’s request.

Since 2015, Illinois state officials have been unable to contain an ongoing Legionnaires’ disease crisis at the 132-year-old IVH facility in Quincy, which has already claimed the lives of 13 Illinoisans who served our nation in uniform and their spouses.

Durbin also asked for Wilkie’s support in protecting veterans from for-profit colleges like Ashford University, and closing the 90/10 loophole, which incentivizes for-profit colleges to aggressively recruit veterans and service members. In March, Durbin sent a letter to Ashford urging the company to immediately halt new GI Bill enrollments until their eligibility is resolved with the VA.