Durbin: Duckworth Sworn in as VA Assistant Secretary

[WASHINGTON, DC] – Earlier today at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Tammy Duckworth was publicly sworn in as the Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) honored the Iraq War veteran during this morning’s ceremony in the Military Advanced Training Center (rehabilitation clinic) at Walter Reed. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki was also in attendance.


Text of Durbin’s remarks as prepared:


Senator Durbin

L. Tammy Duckworth Swearing-In Ceremony

Walter Reed Army Medical Center

May 20, 2009 8:30am


Walter Reed, and this room in particular, is an appropriate setting for this ceremony celebrating a dedicated Citizen-Soldier.


This facility, and DoD and VA facilities like it across the country, are where men and women who have made such great sacrifices in service to our country begin again.


Tammy was completing her rehab here at Walter Reed when we first met.


Tammy’s story


Most people here today know Tammy’s story and that she is full of determination.


As a helicopter pilot in the Illinois National Guard she volunteered to deploy to Iraq in 2004.


When her helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, she attempted to assist the landing of the damaged aircraft. She did so despite losing the use of both legs, and a badly injured arm.


Not long after, Tammy came to Walter Reed to begin the long process of healing and recovery. She built her strength and learned to use prosthetic legs.


She was not done serving her country. She became a prominent servicemember and veteran advocate even before she left Walter Reed, testifying several times before congressional committees.


Tammy in Illinois


She moved back to Illinois, and just 13 months after she had been shot down in Iraq, she ran for Congress.


She did not win, but soon after that election, she was asked to lead the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs where her drive was again on display.


She was a tremendous Director. She breathed new vigor into the Department.


She helped start several first-in-the-nation programs -- from PTSD and TBI screening, to mortgage loans, to grants to veteran service organizations.


Appointee at VA


Now, Tammy begins a new role as chief communicator for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. President Obama has shown great confidence in her, and I share that confidence.


Today’s ceremony marks yet another beginning in Tammy Duckworth’s career. It is fitting that we mark that occasion here, in this room.


We are joined by the Army medical personnel who helped Tammy rehabilitate.


We are joined by friends and family who supported her along the way.


We are joined by Soldiers working through their own recovery.


And, together, we salute you, Tammy, for all you have done and all you are yet to do.