U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth is an Iraq War Veteran, Purple Heart recipient and former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs who was among the first handful of Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. She served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years before retiring at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 2014. 

On November 12, 2004, Tammy’s UH‐60 Black Hawk helicopter was hit by a rocket propelled grenade that exploded in her lap. She lost both legs and partial use of her right arm in the explosion. As a result of her injuries, Tammy earned a Purple Heart. After waking up wounded–but not defeated–more than a week later at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and fighting for her own life, she’s spent every day since fighting for those who sacrificed to save her—as well as for all military families.

After leaving Walter Reed, Tammy was named Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, 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. President Barack Obama later nominated Tammy to be U.S. Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

But Tammy also realized that many of the systemic and bureaucratic problems our nation’s Veterans and military families faced could only be fixed by changing federal laws. So she ran for the U.S. House of Representatives and served two terms before winning the Senate seat she now holds. In her first term in the Senate, Tammy was named the most effective freshman Democrat by the Center for Effective Lawmaking and one of the most effective of all Senate Democrats in the 116th Congress. Several of her proposals were signed into law by the President, including her first-ever Senate bill to help support jobs in Illinois and cut bureaucratic red tape on infrastructure projects, which became law in record time.

In 2018, after Tammy became the first U.S. Senator to give birth while serving in office, she worked to change Senate rules to allow Senators to bring their infant children onto the Senate floor as they do their job voting on issues of national importance—sending a message that all workplaces should be family friendly. She has since passed several pieces of legislation making traveling easier for new moms and people with disabilities.

Senator Duckworth is focused on helping working families get ahead through job development programs, protecting Social Security and Medicare, promoting civil rights and equal rights for all Illinoisans, advocating for environmental justice and supporting our Veterans and military families. She serves on the Armed Services Committee; the Environment & Public Works Committee; the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee; and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee.

Duckworth is fluent in Thai and Indonesian. She attended college at the University of Hawaii and earned a Master of Arts in International Affairs from the George Washington University. Following graduation, Duckworth moved to Illinois and began pursuing a Ph.D. in Political Science at Northern Illinois University and later worked for Rotary International. To this day, the Senator volunteers at local food pantries and participates in community service projects in her free time.

Senator Duckworth and her husband Bryan are the proud parents of two daughters, Abigail and Maile.

Tammy Duckworth