Late Breaking News
Duckworth Tapped as VA Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
- Categorized in: March 2009 Issue
WASHINGTON—President Obama last month announced the nomination of Maj. Tammy Duckworth to be the Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Currently the director of the Illinois state Department of Veterans Affairs, Maj. Duckworth has some experience with federal VA public relations, but from the other side of the table.
As a Captain in the Illinois Army National Guard, Maj. Duckworth ﬂew Blackhawk helicopters in Iraq until a rocket-propelled grenade attack on her helicopter canopy took out her aircraft while in ﬂight. The Nov. 12, 2004 incident cost Maj. Duckworth both of her legs: her entire right leg was amputated and the left was amputated below the knee. She also lost partial use of her right arm. Despite the physical loss, Maj. Duckworth’s goal at the time was to complete physical rehabilitation and, with the help of next-generation prosthesis, be cleared to go back to ﬂying Blackhawks. In the meantime, she appeared several times on Capitol Hill, testifying before legislators on the status of care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and, later, on VA prosthetics care.
Maj. Duckworth won over members of the House and Senate with a combination of respect for the Army and VA and with straightforward criticism of both institutions.
“She is a rising star and a source of inspiration for the newest generation of veterans,” declared Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, chair of the Senate VA committee. “She has seen the system from many sides—as a wounded warrior at Walter Reed, an expert witness before Congress and the head of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.”
In 2006, Maj. Duckworth waged a high-proﬁle campaign for an Illinois House seat, but lost to her Republican opponent. Following the campaign, she was appointed state VA chief in December 2006.