Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) announced that the House of Representatives unanimously passed her bill to rename the veterans facility in Galesburg, Illinois the “Lane A. Evans VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic.” The bill, also introduced in the Senate by Senators Durbin and Kirk, passed the Senate last week, and is now headed to President Obama to be signed into law.
Evans – who represented Illinois’ 17th Congressional District for more than 20 years – was known throughout his career in Congress as a champion of veterans’ issues and served as the Ranking Member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee for a decade. After a long battle with Parkinson’s disease, Evans passed away last month at the age of 63.
“The dedication of a VA facility in the heart of the region Lane Evans represented is a fitting tribute and acknowledgement of his career-long fight to ensure all veterans get the care and benefits they have earned and deserve,” said Bustos. “I applaud the Senate for moving quickly to name the Galesburg VA Clinic after Lane and am thrilled that the House’s action today has moved it one step closer to law. I thank my colleagues for their support in this effort. Now it’s up to the President to ensure Lane’s legacy of service is literally set in stone and his memory lives on in service to the veterans of Western and Central Illinois.”
“From the beginning, Lane Evans was a special friends to veterans – not just in his district or in Illinois, but across the United States,” said Durbin. “By the end of his Congressional career, he had made a name for himself as their strongest champion. Naming the VA Clinic in Galesburg after Lane Evans name is the right thing to do. It will remind every veteran passing through the doorway that Lane Evans had them in his heart, and in his mind, every minute that he was in public service.”
“For more than two decades, Lane Evans dedicated his life to improving care for veterans across Illinois,” said Kirk. “Renaming this Galesburg clinic in his honor will serve as a reminder to us all that we must continue to care for our servicemen and women in the best ways possible.”
A Rock Island native, Evans joined the U.S. Marines Corps at age 17, just two weeks after he graduated from high school. When he returned home following his service, Evans used the GI Bill to earn a college degree, graduating magna cum laude from Augustana College in Rock Island before receiving a law degree from Georgetown.
First elected to represent Illinois’ 17th Congressional District in 1982, Lane Evans went on to serve 12 terms before retiring in 2007. Evans was the first chairman of the Vietnam-era Veterans’ Congressional Caucus and the first Vietnam-era veteran to serve as ranking member on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, a post he held for 10 years.
In his first term, Evans led the effort to create a pilot program establishing community-based veterans centers to help veterans with job and marriage counseling and post-traumatic stress syndrome. The program has since grown to include hundreds of veterans’ centers around the country. His record on behalf of veterans earned him the praise and respect from veterans’ service organizations and his colleagues on both sides of the political aisle.