A former U.S. Army helicopter pilot, United States Senator Tammy Duckworth was living in DeKalb, Illinois, working at Rotary International while pursuing a Ph.D. at Northern Illinois University, when her Peoria-headquartered unit was mobilized in 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. On November 12, 2004, Tammy’s UH‐60 Black Hawk helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. She lost both legs and partial use of her right arm in the explosion, but declined a military medical retirement and continued to drill as a Lieutenant Colonel in Springfield with the Illinois Army National Guard. As a result of her injuries, Tammy earned a Purple Heart.
Tammy served as Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs in Springfield where she implemented many first-in-the-nation programs to alleviate suffering from post-traumatic stress, improve traumatic brain injury screening and reduce homelessness among Veterans. In 2009, President Obama nominated Tammy to be U.S. Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs. There, she headed the federal VA’s effort to end Veteran homelessness and was a leader in initiatives for female Veterans.
Tammy was elected to the United States Senate in 2016. In the Senate, Tammy is focused on helping Illinois’ working families get ahead through investing in infrastructure and job development, protecting Social Security and Medicare, promoting civil rights and equal rights for all Illinoisans and advocating for our Veterans. She serves on the Environment & Public Works Committee, the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee. Tammy continues with her lifelong mission of supporting, protecting and keeping the promises we’ve made to our Veterans.