- NAME: Tammy Duckworth
- OCCUPATION: Activist, General, U.S. Representative
- BIRTH DATE: March 12, 1968 (Age: 45)
- EDUCATION: University of Hawaii, George Washington University, Northern Illinois University
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Bangkok, Thailand
- Full Name: Ladda Tammy Duckworth
- AKA: Tammy Duckworth
- ZODIAC SIGN: Pisces
Best Known For
Tammy Duckworth is the first Asian-American congresswoman for Illinois and the first disabled female veteran to take a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
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Tammy Duckworth was born on March 12, 1968, in Bangkok, Thailand. She was deployed to serve in the Iraq War in 2004 and lost both of her legs when her helicopter was struck. In 2006 she became director of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs. In 2009, Obama appointed Duckworth as assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In 2012 she was elected to Congress, representing Illinois’ 8th District.
"I had my legs blown off in Iraq, and because I had my legs blown off in Iraq, people are listening to me. I'm not going to get my legs back, and that's fine, but if that gives me a platform to talk about the things that are important to me, like education and jobs, that's great."
"I can't avoid the interest in the fact that I'm an injured female soldier. Understand that I'm going to use this as a platform."
"I think women bring a slightly different perspective. The women, I think, are going to reach across the aisle a lot more. We're a lot more pragmatic, but we do come from all different backgrounds."
"Our troops do an incredible job every single day, but our policy makers have not lived up to the sacrifices that our troops make every day."
Ladda Tammy Duckworth was born on March 12, 1968, in Bangkok, Thailand, to a mother of Chinese heritage and a father of British descent. Because her father did refugee work for the United Nations, Duckworth's childhood took place against varied backdrops—spanning Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Cambodia and Hawaii.
Duckworth—along with her mother, Lamai, and her father, Franklin—moved to Hawaii as a teenager. After high school, Duckworth earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Hawaii. Afterward, she obtained her Master of Arts in international affairs at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. In pursuit of yet more higher education, Duckworth then relocated to Illinois, where she enrolled in a political science Ph.D. program at Northern Illinois University.
While attending NIU, Duckworth enrolled in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps with the Illinois Army National Guard. Trained as a Blackhawk pilot, in 2004 Duckworth left NIU when she was deployed to Iraq. In Iraq, Duckworth flew Operation Iraqi Freedom combat missions until her helicopter was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade in the autumn of 2004. The explosion took both of Duckworth's legs and robbed her of full function in her right arm. Still believing in the worthiness of her mission amid questions of whether she felt her sacrifice was for naught, Duckworth responded, "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." She did, however, express frustration that U.S. policy makers were failing to match the sacrifices of American soldiers.
Following her injuries, Duckworth was promoted to major general and awarded the Purple Heart. During her year's recovery time at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, she became an activist, advocating for better medical care for wounded veterans and their families. Duckworth presented her impassioned views to Congress, testifying on two separate occasions.
Tammy Duckworth's activism led her to pursue a political career after her recovery. In 2006 she ran for Congress but lost by a narrow margin. Instead, she took an appointment as director of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs. In this role she worked toward developing an incentive program that would give employers a tax credit for hiring war veterans. She also initiated programs that would provide veterans and their families with better mental support, health care and housing resources.
After President Barack Obama was elected, he chose Duckworth as his assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
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