City Club of Chicago: Senator Tammy Duckworth
August 7, 2019
Senator Tammy Duckworth
Senator Tammy Duckworth
U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth is an Iraq War Veteran, Purple Heart recipient and former Assistant Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. She was among the first Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Duckworth served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years before retiring from military service in 2014 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. 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.
Duckworth attended college at the University of Hawaii and earned a Master of Arts in International Affairs from the George Washington University. Following graduation, Duckworth, who is fluent in Thai and Indonesian, moved to Illinois and began pursuing a Ph.D. in Political Science at Northern Illinois University. She also worked at NIU’s School of Nursing researching public health and environmental causes of cancer. Later, Duckworth worked for Rotary International as a manager for administration of Rotary clubs in the Asia Pacific Region.
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 Duckworth 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 and testified before Congress about caring for our Veterans and wounded warriors. Following her recovery, she became Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, working to create a tax credit for employers who hired Veterans, establish a first-inthe-nation 24/7 Veterans crisis hotline and develop innovative programs to improve Veterans’ access to housing and health care.
In the U.S. Senate, Duckworth serves on several influential committees that give her an important platform to advocate for Illinois’s working families and entrepreneurs: the Armed Services Committee; the Environment & Public Works Committee; the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee; and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee. The first Senate bill she introduced—which supports Illinois jobs by preventing infrastructure from becoming ensnared in needless bureaucratic delays— became law just four months into her term as Senator, marking the fastest time any current Senator has passed a bill after being sworn in. Her Veterans Small Business Enhancement Act allowing Veteran small business owners to receive surplus federal equipment effectively free of charge was also signed into law.
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 after securing a historic rules change allowing Senators to bring their infant children onto the floor. Senator Duckworth and her husband Bryan are the proud parents of two daughters, Abigail and Maile.