Rauner introduces vets’ chief, outlines Legionnaires’ plan

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — An Army brigadier general who served in Afghanistan and Iraq has been named director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Stephen Curda is a Ph.D. in educational psychology and serves as professor and veterans’ education expert at National Louis University in Chicago.

Gov. Bruce Rauner made the announced Tuesday at the state veterans’ home in Quincy. The Republican said the state budget he signed Monday includes $53 million to begin reconstruction of the home beset by Legionnaires’ disease.

The water-borne malady has caused 13 residents’ deaths at the home since 2015. Rauner has proposed a long-term, $245 million plan to rebuild the facility and replace corroded plumbing.

Curda replaces Erica Jeffries. Jeffries was criticized for her handling of the Legionnaires’ crisis. She left in May for the private sector.