This week, we're talking with Michael Ragan, about the "22VA Verterasns Art Exhibit." The exhibit features works of art by veterans; it's intended to give vets an opportunity to feature their work, and to raise awareness of the issue of veteran suicides. The show also includes works from veterans' family members, to show that families are affected, as well.

Ragan talks about the origins of the exhibit, and about the value that creative expression has for veterans, and his own attempt to "find beuaty in something dark."


SPRINGFIELD - Illinois Bicentennial organizers and the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs have named 200 military veterans to honor during the state's 200th birthday.

Officials overseeing construction of the Obama Presidential Center on Chicago's South Side say they're taking steps to ensure a diverse workforce builds the center.

J.B. Pritzker is doing a listening tour with veterans. The tour included a stop in Peoria Thursday. 

An Army brigadier general who served in Afghanistan and Iraq has been named director of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs. 

The Illinois Senate has unanimously endorsed a plan to require reports on veterans' health after a Legionnaires' disease crisis at a state-run veterans home.

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Illinois veterans interested in learning more about Veterans Administration care options are encouraged to call the V.A. Illiana Health Care System this afternoon. The V.A. is hosting a special phone-a-thon between 2 p.m and 6 p.m to assist veterans who are not currently receiving care, including those who don’t believe they are eligible because they haven’t served in a combat zone. Interested veterans should call 217-554-3379 this afternoon for expert assessment.

Records show that a top aide at the Illinois Department of Public Health took a leave of absence to work on political campaigns in the fall of 2016 while the agency faced the baffling return of deadly Legionnaires' disease at a state-run veterans home.

Email messages show state officials worked to put a positive spin on news coverage as a deadly Legionnaires disease outbreak unfolded at an Illinois veterans' home.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says he’s considering moving some residents out of a state-run veterans’ home troubled by Legionnaires’ disease.

That’s after the state announced in the past week four more residents have tested positive.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin has pledged federal support for fixing problematic water supplies at the Illinois Veterans' Home in Quincy where Legionnaires' disease has claimed 13 lives since 2015.

A central Illinois library is screening a series of documentaries to mark the state's bicentennial.

Today, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says he would “absolutely” drink the water at the state-run veterans home in Quincy.

That’s after a WBEZ investigation into repeated outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease at the facility - including as recently as last month.

Rauner defends his administration’s handling of repeated diagnoses of the outbreaks.

But when asked repeatedly by reporters if he himself had a moral responsibility for what’s happened there, Rauner didn’t give a direct answer.

Transgender Navy Veteran to be Honored in East Peoria

Nov 30, 2017
Peoria Transgender Society

A transgender veteran is being honored this weekend at a scholarship luncheon in East Peoria. Leanna Bradley is the namesake of a college scholarship for LGBTQ students.

World War II Cannon Restored For Illinois Cemetery

Nov 10, 2017
U.S. Army / Wikipedia

A restored World War II cannon that was taken away from a cemetery south of Chicago because it was falling apart is about to return. The 1943 U.S. Army M5 anti-tank weapon will be placed on a new cement pad at Pioneer Cemetery in the Will County community of Mokena during a ceremony on Veterans Day. 

Illinois will honor 200 veterans who've gone "above and beyond the call of duty" as part of the state's bicentennial celebration.

Don Heupel / AP Photo

CHICAGO (AP) - A law passed last year requires every judicial circuit in Illinois to have a veterans treatment court starting Jan. 1.

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

EAST PEORIA, Ill. (AP) - An art exhibit featuring works by central Illinois veterans is set to open in East Peoria. 

A woman in southwest Illinois has created a series of exhibits that tell the story of soldiers who died or went missing during the Vietnam War.

This Weekend: Ceremonies Honor Soldiers for Memorial Day

May 25, 2017
United States Navy / Wikimedia Commons

Several communities in the Peoria area are commemorating veterans this weekend, in honor of Memorial Day.


PEORIA, Ill. (AP) - A central Illinois group is making progress on expanding housing for veterans in need.


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois will mark the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and honor the men and women who died there with a ceremony in Springfield. 

The Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs says the event is scheduled for Wednesday at the Disabled American Veterans Hall. It will include the reading of a proclamation signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner and a wreath laying in the waters of Lake Springfield. 

 The Sangamon County Inter-veteran Honor Guard also will play "Taps." 

Veterans Invited to Annual Appreciation Breakfast

Dec 2, 2016
pixabay/Creative Commons

Veterans and their families are invited to chow down on homemade pancakes and sausage, served up by Illinois politicians in Peoria this weekend.  

State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth’s (D-Peoria) office announced she’s hosting her 8th Annual Veterans’ Appreciation Breakfast Sat. at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall in Peoria Heights. 

Several news makers are expected to wait tables, including Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Peoria Public Schools’ Superintendent Sharon Kherat and Peoria County State’s Attorney Jerry Brady. 

U.S. Senator Mark Kirk says he apologized, and that apology was accepted, so it's time to move on from a controversial comment he made at last week's debate minimizing his opponent's family legacy of military service. The Republican gave an interview to public radio on Wednesday; click below to listen to the bulk of it.

Governor Bruce Rauner has rejected adding new medical conditions to Illinois' medical marijuana pilot program.

Just days ago, supporters pushed to expand the list protested at the State Capitol.

Caprice Sweatt said medical cannabis helps military veterans cope with debilitating symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or P-T-S-D.

"We're pleading with the governor to hear our voices, to please approve the eight conditions that are so desperately needed for sick people in Illinois."

mag3737 / Flickr/Creative Commons

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) - A U.S. Marine Corps veteran is raising money to erect in a Bloomington park a memorial to those who served in World War II.

Dale Mills pitched the idea for a granite monument in Miller Park to Mayor Tari Renner last month. Renner says the city found it "absolutely appropriate to move forward with the project."

Mills says he has "more patriotism in one toe" than some other people. He says he chose Miller Park because it's the only park in Bloomington with other military monuments. He's helped maintain those other memorials in the past.  

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4999 in Chillicothe broke ground this year for an elaborate memorial to be completed next year. Those involved with the more than $300,000 project say it’s for soldiers, families and the community. And, like many memorials, this one preserves the memory of those who paid the ultimate price.  

Effingham County Courthouse Museum

 EFFINGHAM, Ill. (AP) - Jane Loy Ries is keeping alive the World War II stories she heard as a child.  Ries has decorated for the second year an 8-foot Christmas tree in the Effingham County Museum with ornaments honoring those who served in the war.  

The retired second-grade public schoolteacher started the project when she was still in the classroom. Pupils "adopted" a veteran and were instructed to learn about him. 

 Two hundred veterans are represented on the ornaments featuring red hearts backing the veterans' photos.  

francisluong / Flickr/Creative Commons

METAMORA, Ill. (AP) - A 6-year-old Metamora student has raised $1,400 in a week to send war veterans to Washington, D.C.

J.J. Murphy is a first-grader at Metamora Grade School. The the school set a goal of $1,000 to donate to Greater Peoria Honor Flight. It's an organization that takes veterans to the nation's capital to see monuments dedicated to them. 

 J.J. decided to reach the goal on his own. His mother, Jenny, is an English teacher at the high school. She gave her son permission to seek donations from teachers and on chaperoned evening neighborhood trips.