Lt. Col. Tammy Duckworth

In 2003, Tammy Duckworth was working on a project for Rotary International to provide wheelchairs for the disabled in developing countries including Iraq. As a Captain in the Illinois National Guard, she was mobilized for Operation Iraqi Freedom and deployed in 2004 and was one of the first women to fly combat missions in Iraq. On November 12, 2004, her helicopter was hit by an RPG. Tammy lost both legs and part of the use of her right arm in the explosion, and was awarded the Purple Heart for her combat injuries. During her recovery at Walter Reed, Tammy was one of the highest-ranking amputees and became an advocate for her fellow soldiers, testifying before Congress and also running for the House of Representatives. Tammy continued to serve as a Major in the National Guard and became Director of Illinois’ Department of Veterans’ Affairs, implementing programs to address Post Traumatic Stress, improve traumatic brain injury screening and reduce homelessness among Vets. In 2009, Tammy was tapped by President Obama to be Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs where she sought to improve the standard of care for Vets. In March of 2012, Duckworth secured the Democratic nomination for a seat for the 8th U.S. Congressional District in Illinois. Tammy is a graduate of the University of Hawaii and received a Masters of Arts in International Affairs from the George Washington University. Despite her injuries, she declined a military medical retirement and continues to drill as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard.