Disabled Veteran Being Tapped For High Level VA Position

February 4, 2009

One thing that I feel is very important as President Obama continues to pick key people to fill in his cabinet, especially in the areas that concern the military, is that he is careful to chose people who have experience with the vital issues that are relevant to our Troops and Veterans. It was recently announced that the white House intends to nominate Disabled Iraq war veteran, Tammy Duckworth, who is currently serving as the director of the Illinois Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Duckworth is a Major in the Illinois National Guard and lost both of her legs and partial use of her arm when the helicopter she was flying in Iraq, was hit by a rocket propelled grenade. The formal nomination of Duckworth will be made following the completion of background checks and once Duckworth completes the paperwork and disclosure statements are required.


The director of the VFW, Bob Wallace, said that he was pleased to see Obama pick Duckworth to serve as assistant secretary of public and intergovernmental affairs for the VA. Not only is she a veteran, but she’s a disabled veteran, which is a plus when dealing with the plethora of wounded warriors returning from both Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Too often, this job goes to a nonveteran,” said Wallace.1

It’s hoped that Duckworth will have her confirmation hearing before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, by the end of this month. According to VA Secretary, Eric Shineski, good communications with veterans and their supporters is essential in improving the agency’s services and ensuring that the veteran’s receive them. Duckworth would be very knowledgeable and helpful in that respect, as she knows well the system, what works and doesn’t work, as she’s had to utilize the system herself.

Since her injury, Duckworth has been a frequent witness before the House and Senate veteran’s affairs committees on issues that involve Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. After her injury, she also continued to serve in the National Guard and her husband, Brian Bowlsbey is also an Iraq veteran and serves as a major in the Illinois National Guard.

“President Obama has made a fine choice in selecting Tammy Duckworth to join Secretary Shinseki’s team at VA,” said Senator Daniel Akaka, Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committee chairman.2

Duckworth’s opinions during her testimony, have not always been ones that set well with the VA. During testimony during 2007 before the Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committee, she stated that the VA seemed unprepared to deal with younger Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and with older veterans. She also made a proposal which was deemed very controversial when she stated that all new amputees should be treated in the private sector or at Walter Reed Army Medical Center instead of the VA, due to the fact that the VA’s prosthetic programs were outdated and not state of the art. She used herself as an example when she shared that the high-tech limbs she received at Walter Reed following her injury could not be repaired or adjusted at the VA hospital she used near Chicago, because staff there had no experience dealing with them. 3

If Duckworth is confirmed for the position, she will direct the VA’s public affairs, internal communications and intergovernmental relations. She would also be responsible for overseeing programs for homeless veterans, consumer affairs and special rehabilitative events. This is one nomination that Obama has made that I feel halfway decent about. Though I didn’t vote for Obama and Duckworth is a longtime ally of Obama, I would hope that she could look beyond that and base her actions on what is best for our Veterans and Troops. In the position she’s been nominated for, I feel that her experience as a wounded veteran will be valuable in her decisions and policies that she endorses. It will be interesting to see what kind of changes, positive or negative Tammy Duckworth can bring to the VA. I would hope that since she herself had the experience of dealing with both the VA and Military healthcare systems after her injury, that the things she would implement would be positive things for our Veterans. Only time will tell.

  1. http://www.armytimes.com/news/2009/02/military_duckworth_020309/ []
  2. http://www.armytimes.com/news/2009/02/military_duckworth_020309/ []
  3. http://www.armytimes.com/news/2009/02/military_duckworth_020309/ []


2 Responses to “Disabled Veteran Being Tapped For High Level VA Position”

  1. Sgt, C.H. Brown on February 7th, 2009 12:23 pm

    I am a Disabled Veteran and this is a very good move on the behalf of all Veterans’. Maj. Duckworth is a Disable Veteran and I hope that she have the ability to fill in some of the “no you are not intitled”, comments made by some VA Officels. This is a bad thing to say to a person whom just finshed Military Duty.

    It took me (17&1/2) years to get all of my benefits. Now I am a service officer (not for the VA), and do service Veterans’ in their homes. I do this for free to make sure that the Veterans’ whom I help is not left out.

    Veterans’ Issues if you look carefuly is larger than the postal service, but they get more yes’s from the Gov. than we Veterans’, even when working for the postoffice we get a bad hit.

    I do support her 100%, and belive she will give a voice to the Female Veteran.

    We need a good Veterans’ Advocate in the (VA), and I belive she can still Fly.

    Maj. Duckworth if confirmed will a have nice chance to use her leader ship skills to support her other Military Family, the Veterans’.

    Veterans’ remember we are not going to get all that is due us at one time because the Government would go broke, so be sure too take a little at a time and you will get it all thats do you. So Veterans’ file your claims, HELP IS ON THE WAY. (as a Veteran I thank you all for your service.)

  2. Rex Burton on March 20th, 2009 7:47 pm

    Major Duckworth would seem to work out just fine once confirmed. What we as Veterans need now is little or no red tape that not only involves our lives, but the lives of our family members. We need additional people reviewing our claims and more people in the VA asking us what they can do for us and not just letters of denial or “no we can’t do that.” We need more of a can do attitude toward the veterans and returning service members. We need not only recognize the current service members returning with injuries or in body bags, but we need overall recognition of all service members who gave parts of themselves to the military in service of their country weather it be physical injuries and/or deformities and psychological injuries. WE NEED TO REMEMBER!!! SO WE NEVER FORGET OUR FALLEN !!!

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