Major Tammy Duckworth currently serves as the new Assistant Secretary for Veterans Affairs in the Obama Administration. Previously, she served as the Director of Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs. Since her appointment in November of 2006, she and former Governor Blagojevich implemented cutting edge programs for veterans, especially in the areas of health care, mental health, housing, and employment. With over $70 million in new initiatives for Illinois veterans over the last 2 years, Illinois has become a leader in state benefits for its service members.
A Major in the Illinois Army National Guard, Duckworth served in Iraq and flew combat missions as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot. During a mission in 2004, a rocket-propelled grenade struck the helicopter she was co-piloting, and as a result of the attack, Duckworth lost both of her legs and partial use of one arm. She received many decorations for her service in Iraq, including the Purple Heart and the Air Medal.
Since her recovery at Walter Reed, Duckworth has dedicated her life to public service. She serves as a national advocate on behalf of other veterans, regularly addressing a wide variety of issues facing veterans today. She has testified before both the U.S. House and Senate regarding medical care and employment for returning veterans. In 2006, Duckworth ran for U.S. Congress in the 6th District of Illinois, but lost to her Republican opponent by narrow margin.
Duckworth served as the Manager for the Club and District Administration Department for Rotary Internationals Asia-Pacific Region, with direct supervision over employees in five regional offices in Japan, New Delhi, Sydney, Seoul, and Chicago. She speaks fluent Thai and Indonesian, and she is a published author on the connection between environmental radon and lung cancer. She has declined her medical retirement to continue her service in the Illinois Army National Guard. Duckworth and her husband Major Bryan Bowlsbey, currently reside in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.