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Today is my Alive Day, the 17th anniversary of the day I probably should’ve died in a dusty field in Iraq after our Blackhawk was shot out of the sky—but didn’t. Sen Duckworth

Iraq Combat Veteran, Sen. Duckworth

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Sen Tammy Duckworth. So while I can’t fly combat missions anymore or help drag Soldiers from a burning Blackhawk if the worst should strike again, I can use my current role—serving no longer from the cockpit but the Senate—to ensure our Armed Forces are the strongest they can be.

Recently Sen Duckworth has made headlines in her latest effort to help military families.
“Far too many of our military families are experiencing hunger because of unintended barriers that make them unable to access essential nutrition assistance programs,” Duckworth said. “As someone whose family relied on these nutrition programs after my father lost his job, and who served in the uniform for most of my adult life, I’m proud to be working across the aisle with Senator Blackburn on this bill to help make sure our servicemembers and their families have enough to eat.”

U.S.Senator Tammy Duckworth is an Iraq War Veteran, Purple Heart recipient and former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs who was among the first handful of Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Duckworth served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years before retiring at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 2014. She was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016 after representing Illinois’s Eighth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives for two terms.

In 2004, Duckworth was deployed to Iraq as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot for the Illinois Army National Guard. On November 12, 2004, her helicopter was hit by an RPG and she lost her legs and partial use of her right arm. Senator Duckworth spent the next year recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where she quickly became an advocate for her fellow Soldiers. After she recovered, she became Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, where she helped create a tax credit for employers that hire Veterans, established a first-in-the-nation 24/7 Veterans crisis hotline and developed innovative programs to improve Veterans’ access to housing and health care.

In 2009, President Obama appointed Duckworth as an Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs, where she coordinated a joint initiative with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help end Veteran homelessness, worked to address the unique challenges faced by female as well as Native American Veterans and created the Office of Online Communications to improve the VA’s accessibility, especially among young Veterans.

I’ve witnessed the courage of our troops firsthand—in fact, I’m only alive today because of it—and I’ll never stop working to do right by those who have done so much for the rest of us.

In the U.S. House, Duckworth served on the Armed Services Committee and was an advocate for working families and job creation, introducing bills like her bipartisan Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM) Act to ensure new mothers have access to safe, clean and accessible lactation rooms when traveling through airports, which is now law. She helped lead passage of the bipartisan Clay Hunt SAV Act, which enhanced efforts to track and reduce Veteran suicides. She also passed the Troop Talent Act to help returning Veterans find jobs in the private sector and worked to cut waste and fraud at the Pentagon and throughout government, including passing a common-sense provision that was projected to save taxpayers $4 billion by reducing redundancy in military uniforms.

In the U.S. Senate, Duckworth advocates for practical, common-sense solutions needed to move our state and country forward like rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, protecting Illinoisans from lead poisoning, growing manufacturing jobs while supporting minority-owned small businesses, investing in communities that have been ignored for too long and making college more affordable for all Americans. She co-founded the Senate’s first-ever Environmental Justice Caucus and also continues her lifelong mission of supporting, protecting and keeping the promises we’ve made to our Veterans as well as ensuring that we stand fully behind the troops our nation sends into danger overseas. In 2018, after Duckworth became the first Senator to give birth while serving in office, she sent a message to working families across the country about the value of family-friendly policies by securing a historic rules change that allows Senators to bring their infant children onto the Senate floor.

About Soldier of Fortune Magazine

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