The photograph shown above won an Award of Excellence for Ricky Carioti from the White House News Photographers Association. The caption reads: Representative Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., center, and other representatives look on as members vote for Speaker of the House during the opening session of the 113th Congress at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 3, 2013, in Washington.
This peaked my interest to learn more about this unique Congresswoman.
Tammy Duckworth is an Iraq War Veteran and former Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs. While working towards a PhD in political science at Northern Illinois University she was deployed to Iraq as a helicopter pilot in 2004. Duckworth lost her right leg near the hip and her left leg below the knee from injuries sustained on November 12, 2004, when the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter she was co-piloting was hit by a rocket propelled grenade fired by Iraqi insurgents. She was the first female double amputee from the Iraq war. The explosion “almost completely destroyed her right arm, breaking it in three places and tearing tissue from the back side of it.” Thirteen months later, she had been fitted with titanium legs and is now fully mobile. Duckworth received a Purple Heart on December 3 and was promoted to Major on December 21 at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where she was presented with an Air Medal and Army Commendation Medal.
Following her recovery, Duckworth ran for Congress in 2006 and narrowly lost.
In 2009, President Obama appointed Duckworth to be Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs. At VA, Duckworth led an initiative to end homelessness among Veterans. She created the Office of Online Communications to improve the VA’s accessibility, especially among young Veterans, and also worked to address the unique challenges that Native American and female Veterans face.
Duckworth ran for Congress again in 2012 to advocate for the practical solutions and cooperation needed to rebuild our economy and ensure that every American has a chance to achieve the American Dream.
Tammy lives with her husband Bryan, an Army Major. Since her recovery, she has taken up scuba diving, surfing, skydiving and flies as a civilian pilot proving it’s hard to keep a good woman down. Fulfilling a promise she made at Walter Reed, she has also completed several marathons. She has resumed her Ph.D. studies at Northern Illinois University and is also working toward a Ph.D. in Health and Human Services at Capella University. In her spare time, she volunteers at local food pantries and enjoys couponing and flea markets. Duckworth declined a military medical retirement and continues to drill as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard