Obama Taps Duckworth for National VA Post

"The VA system faces new challenges," and so does Tammy Duckworth

Tuesday, Feb 3, 2009  |  Updated 3:01 PM CDT
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Obama Taps Duckworth for National VA Post

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Tammy Duckworth has devoted herself to improving conditions for soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

President Barack Obama has tapped Tammy Duckworth, director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, to be the Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“Effective communications with Veterans and VA’s stakeholders is key to improving our services and ensuring Veterans receive the benefits they deserve,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.  “Tammy Duckworth brings significant talent, leadership and personal experience to this important work.”

As assistant secretary, Duckworth will direct VA’s public affairs, internal communications and intergovernmental relations.  She also will oversee programs for homeless Veterans, consumer affairs and special rehabilitative events.

Duckworth was appointed director of the state Veterans office in Illinois in 2006.  In previous testimony before Congress, she expressed her commitment to Veterans and the need for transformation of the Department.

“The VA system faces new challenges as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,”  she said, noting that “the patient profile is changing.  More wounded soldiers are surviving very serious injuries."

Calling Duckworth's dedication for Veterans and her love for her county "immeasurable," Gov. Pat Quinn applauded the nomination.

"She has done a fantastic job working to make sure that Illinois’ Veterans get the assistance they needed and I know that she will continue to do great work on a national level under the Obama Administration," Quinn said.

Duckworth is serving as a major in the Illinois National Guard and was previously deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom where, as a captain, she was assistant operations officer for a 500-soldier aviation task force.   She also served as a logistics officer and company commander. 

As a helicopter pilot flying combat missions in 2004, she suffered grave injuries when her helicopter was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, causing her to lose both legs and leaving her with partial use of one arm. 

Her previous managerial experience includes coordinating the Center for Nursing Research at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, and working for Rotary International’s Asia-Pacific region from 2002 to 2004.

Duckworth earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Hawaii and a master’s degree from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.  Born in Thailand, she is the daughter of a U.S. Marine who fought in Vietnam.  She is married to Iraq war Veteran and National Guard officer, Major Bryan Bowlsbey.

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