Lane Evans, ranking Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, is recognized as one of the strongest advocates on veterans issues in Congress. The Illinois congressman, who was first elected in 1982, spearheaded the successful effort to pass Agent Orange compensation and led the charge for passage of a law that delivers health and compensation benefits to children of veterans exposed to Agent Orange who were born with spina bifida, a crippling birth defect.
A Vietnam Era veteran of the Marine Corps, Congressman Evans was one of the first voices in Congress to speak out about problems experienced by many veterans of the war in the Persian Gulf. He has taken a leading role in seeking benefits and full disclosure about exposures to toxic chemicals and other substances during their service. He has also worked to expand services for women veterans, pushed for increased help for veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and crafted legislation to direct more resources to community-based services for homeless veterans.
For his legislative leadership and accomplishments, the congressman has received accolades from several veterans organizations, including AMVET’s Silver Helmet Award and the first annual President’s Award for Outstanding Achievement from Vietnam Veterans of America. He also was the recipient of VVA’s Legislator of the Year Award not once, but twice.
A leading environmentalist, Congressman Evans was named an "Environmental Hero" by the League of Conservation Voters and was "Conservationist of the Year" by the Heart of Illinois Sierra Club, the first time that organization accorded this honor to a non-volunteer.
The congressman was born in Rock Island, Illinois, in 1951. Following his graduation from high school, he enlisted in the Marines and was stationed in Okinawa. He was honorably discharged in 1971. He went on to earn his B.A. magna cum laude in 1974 from Augustana College in his home town, and is a 1978 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C.