Famous Veterans: Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth

Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth
Lt. Col. Tammy Duckworth at her retirement ceremony (Illinois Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kassidy Snyder.)

Ladda Tammy Duckworth is the first Asian-American woman elected to Congress in Illinois, the first disabled woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and the first member of Congress born in Thailand. Duckworth’s family on her father’s side has served in the military dating back to the civil war. Continuing her family’s legacy, Duckworth served as a U.S. Army helicopter pilot in the Iraq War and suffered severe combat wounds, losing both of her legs and damaging her right arm. She was the first female double amputee from the war. After receiving a medical waiver, she continued to serve as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard until her retirement from the Army in October 2014. Many veterans are asked about their sacrifice, whether it was worth it, and Duckworth is not an exception. In a Washington Post interview, Duckworth said, "I was hurt in service for my country. I was proud to go. It was my duty as a soldier to go. And I would go tomorrow." Duckworth credits her injury for the realization that she “could have died,” and as such, decided she wanted to “do more” with her life. Duckworth has stayed true to her promise of serving veterans. Since taking office, shehas been a strong advocate for veteran rights. She has introduced legislation to improve Veterans’ access to preventive healthcare and has been a vocal critic of efforts to make Veterans healthcare more expensive and to end programs that are reducing Veteran homelessness. As a Congresswoman, she was supportive of previous efforts to reform VA like the Choice Act in 2014 and she coauthored the bipartisan Clay Hunt SAV Act, which passed both the House and Senate unanimously and was signed into law to improve mental health care services for Veterans and reduce Veteran suicide. She also introduced the bipartisan Troop Talent Act—large portions of which are now law—to help service members transition to civilian life by making it easier for them to turn the skills they learned in the military into the credentials and licenses needed for similar civilian fields. In honor of her lineage of military service, The Daughters of the American Revolution erected a statue with Duckworth's likeness. The statue was erected in honor of female veterans and the continued sacrifices they make every day.

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