Durbin, Manker promote veteran support system in Morgan County

By Ryne Turke on October 11, 2016 at 7:10am

A Morgan County State’s Attorney candidate is doing his part to serve the veterans of West Central Illinois.

Tyson Manker was joined by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and a dozen local veterans on Monday in Downtown Jacksonville.

Manker feels the nation has “come a long way” when it comes to the understanding of what combat does to men and women who serve overseas. Manker says Vietnam veterans came home to an entirely different experience compared to those who serve today.

Unfortunately, Manker says far too many veterans, wounded in body, mind and spirit, aren’t taken care of in a timely manner.

“The reality is that today in this nation we are quick to wage wars and send our soldiers, sailors and marines to foreign lands to fight the enemy, but we are woefully unprepared when those young men and women come home with the wounds of war.  These are often invisible,” says Manker.

According to Manker, since 2001, over 320,000 service members have been forced out of the military with post traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury or military sexual trauma. Manker feels veterans are “kicked to the curb like a piece of garbage,” and denied complete access to military care.

One way the people of Morgan County can get involved in this fight is through the Veterans Treatment Court Act.

In 2010, Illinois’ legislature passed the Veterans Treatment Court Act. Manker says this enabled each county in the state to create a partnership between the prosecutor, local veterans representatives and counselors, to give veterans the treatment they need.

Currently, Morgan County doesn’t have a Veterans Treatment Court, but that will change in roughly a year. It has become mandatory for each county to create a court by January of 2018.

Manker emphasized he would be the leader and creator of the the Morgan County Veterans Treatment Court, a statement Senator Durbin fully endorsed.

Durbin’s long history of backing veterans includes his work on the Family Caregivers Program, which provides a helping hand to veterans receiving treatment in households.

Durbin hopes the court addresses the challenges veterans face on a daily basis.

“I can’t tell you how many people come to me and say ‘What kind of country do you live in where a young man or woman is willing to take an oath to risk their life for that country, and then they come home after that experience and live on the streets, or can’t get into a veterans hospital or a helping hand to get a job, finish their education or start a business?’ That is a valid question and one that puts us all to the test. All of us salute the flag and do it with great honor. All of us stand and honor those who serve our country. Will we accept the responsibility to really do something significant,” says Durbin.

Durbin added that ten counties in Illinois have already created veterans courts, and they are making a real difference.

“When a veteran is arrested and charged, they are brought into the court for a meeting and discussion. It isn’t just the crime being charged, but the circumstances for that veteran. Many times it turn out that veteran is in a struggle to find their way back home to their family and a normally life. A special effort is made in these courts to divert them from the basic court system, and instead, into a helping relationship in the veterans court, Durbin says.

To hear audio from the entire conference, go to our website at WLDS/WEAI.com.