Happy Birthday, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth!
Today we get to celebrate a great pioneer for women, someone who has broken through borders and shown the world what a life without limits can truly look like. Not only is Tammy the first Asian American elected to Congress in Illinois, but she is the first disabled woman to be elected into the U.S House of Representatives.
Just in case you’re not sufficiently impressed, Tammy is also an Iraq War veteran who served as a U.S. Army Blackhawk pilot. During combat in 2004, Tammy’s helicopter was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, which resulted in the loss of both of her legs and caused severe damage to her right right arm. Being a one for firsts, Tammy was the first female double amputee during the war.
Consistently motivated, she used her time in recovery to advocate for improving medical care for wounded veterans and their families. She presented her case to Congress on two separate occasions. Soon after her recovery, Tammy was honored with a Purple Heart and was promptly promoted to Major. Although she was offered military medical retirement, she declined and continued to run drills with soldiers as a Lieutenant Colonel.
Tammy’s activism inspired her to pursue a career in politics, and in 2006 she ran for Congress. Although she lost that year, Tammy was still determined to involve herself in public life, and she took on the position of director of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs. It was here where she worked towards developing a program for that would grant tax credits to employers who hired war vets. She also developed several programs to provide veterans and their families with housing resources, mental support, and better health care.
After President Obama was inaugurated in 2009, he chose Tammy to be his assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Tammy quickly began to focus her attention on putting an end to the increasing rate of homeless veterans and providing proper care and resources for women who were serving in the military.
In 2012, Tammy decided to run for Congress once more—and this time she won. Since gaining the political platform she needed to move her agenda forward, Tammy has dedicated her time in office to working toward ensuring the best care possible for veterans.
And if that wasn’t enough: in 2014, Tammy and her husband of 14 years—U.S. Army Major Bryan Bowlsbey—welcomed their daughter Abigail into the world.
In 2016 Tammy took her seat in the U.S. Senate after running a successful campaign against Mark S. Kirk. Although Tammy has been faced with numerous challenges and ongoing obstacles, she has continued to live a life that has inspired and empowered women to follow their dreams, no matter what the odds are. As she has shown us, you can always be the first!
Happy birthday to our modern-day Superwoman!