Barack Obama’s election has left some important seats open in his cabinet and in the Illinois senate. His selection of Sen. Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State leaves New York Governor David Paterson, who is partially blind, to appoint Clinton’s replacement. The race for Obama’s Illinois senate seat is also heating up, with Gov. Rod Blagojevich set to name a replacement. Among the handful of candidates being considered, Tammy Duckworth is a popular pick. Ms. Duckworth, 40, served in Iraq and flew combat missions as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot. During a mission in 2004, her helicopter was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade. Duckworth lost both of her legs — one leg below the knee (BK) and one leg above the knee (AK). After a long recovery process, she uses prosthetics, (such as the Proprio electric-powered ankle shown), that allow her to walk and continue to fly aircraft. Ms. Duckworth ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2006, and is currently the director of Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Even if she’s not picked to serve in Illinois, the former veteran may have bigger shoes to fill as Obama is considering her for his Secretary of Veteran Affairs. In this role, she would work to strengthen financial and medical support for veterans, including those with disabilities, returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. With an American father and a mother who is ethnically Chinese, Ms. Duckworth was born in Thailand and is an American citizen. She is fluent in Thai and Indonesian and recently completed the Chicago marathon using a hand-cranked bicycle (see photo). Keep your eyes out for the prominent Ms. Duckworth as she continues to represent Americans with disabilities in places where it matters.
Disabled Vet Duckworth May Serve U.S.
December 4 2008 | by Suzanne Robitaille