L. Tammy Duckworth
Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs
L. Tammy Duckworth was appointed Director of the Illinois
Department of Veterans Affairs by Governor Blagojevich on November
Director Duckworth is currently a Major with the Illinois Army
National Guard. Previously, she served as a Logistics Officer, Company
Commander and Battle Captain.
Director Duckworth speaks four languages, has a B.A. in political
science from the University of Hawaii, an M.A. from George Washington
University Elliot School of International Affairs, and is currently pursuing
a Ph.D. in political science at Northern Illinois University.
On November 12, 2004, Director Duckworth was co-piloting a Black Hawk helicopter north of
Baghdad when a rocket-propelled grenade struck the cockpit of her aircraft and exploded. Focused on
the safety of her crew, Director Duckworth was determined to land the helicopter not realizing she had
been severely injured and that the other pilot was already at the controls. It wasn't until the helicopter
landed that she passed out. Ten days later, when she woke up at Walter Reed Memorial Hospital in
Washington, D.C., she learned that the explosion would cost her both legs and had shattered her right
arm. It has been a long road to recovery, but Director Duckworth is optimistic and determined to
continue to serve.
Dedicated, strong-willed and always the optimist, Director Duckworth kept busy during her
recovery despite her injuries and rigorous rehabilitation schedule. She spoke to veterans' groups,
attended the 2005 State of the Union address and testified twice before Congress urging that more be
done to ensure soldiers continue to receive the same high level of medical care as they move from
military to veteran status.
Coming Home While Director Duckworth was recuperating at Walter Reed, more than 30
volunteers rehabbed her Hoffman Estates home to be completely wheelchair-accessible. Members of
her National Guard unit, fellow employees at Rotary Inte