Durbin Will Host Illinois Veteran & Caregiver For Tomorrow's State Of The Union

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – In what has become an annual tradition, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) will host an Illinois servicemember or veteran as his guest for President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. Retired Air Force Captain Anthony “Tony” Simone will also be joined by his wife, Andrea, who has served as Tony’s caregiver since he suffered a traumatic brain injury while on his third deployment. Durbin first met Captain Simone and Andrea in 2013 at Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital in Maywood, Illinois, where Captain Simone receives medical care and Andrea is a member of the caregivers community. Both guests will also attend the Secretary of the Senate’s dinner immediately preceding the President’s address. 

“I am proud to have not one, but two distinguished guests from Illinois to the State of the Union: retired United States Air Force Captain Tony Simone and his wife and caregiver Andrea,” said Durbin.  “Captain Simone showed great courage on the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan. But his sacrifices - and the sacrifices made by his family - didn’t end after his deployments. After Captain Simone was wounded in action, and returned home, he and his wife, Andrea, continue to show great courage every day that they work together on his recovery. I am humbled and honored to have Captain Simone and Andrea Simone join me as part of this special moment in our nation’s history.”

Durbin has invited Illinois servicemembers or veterans who have served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as his guests to the State of the Union since 2005 when he hosted Army Major Tammy Duckworth. Durbin will hold a private meeting with Captain Simone and Andrea before the Secretary of the Senate’s dinner.

 ****Opportunities for b-roll of the meeting and interviews following the meeting will be available. Media should contact Maria McElwain at (202) 224-7028 or maria_mcelwain@durbin.senate.gov for more details.***

Captain Simone was born and raised in Jonestown, Pennsylvania, the son of Jeanne and Dave Simone, who served in the Marines. After graduating from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with a degree in aeronautical science, Captain Simone began flight training at United States Air Force (USAF) Officer Training School and received his commission. In 2007, he married Andrea – who had just graduated from Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois – at St. Patrick Church in Joliet, Illinois.

After Officer Training School, Captain Simone completed two years of military pilot training to become a combat search and rescue helicopter pilot. As a search and rescue pilot, Captain Simone flew a Pave Hawk helicopter – often behind enemy lines – to pick up injured servicemembers and civilians. As a member of the 66th Rescue Squadron, he completed two tours in Iraq – in 2008 and 2009 – and one in Afghanistan – in 2010.

In 2010, Captain Simone’s helicopter was shot down in Helmand Province while rescuing a critically wounded British Marine. Of the seven servicemembers on board the helicopter, only two survived. Captain Simone sustained a traumatic brain injury and burns in the crash, and spent six weeks in a coma. During his recovery, Captain Simone has received treatment at: Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas; the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa, Florida; Bethesda National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland; and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois.


Captain Simone continues his rehabilitation and therapy at the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital in Maywood, Illinois. Andrea also receives support services through the caregiver support program at Hines, which is how Durbin first met the Simone family.


In August 2013, on the two-year anniversary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Family Caregiver Program, Durbin met with the Simones and other veterans and their family caregivers to hear how their lives had been impacted as a result of the program. The Family Caregiver Program provides technical, financial and practical support to family caregivers of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans seriously injured in the line of duty.  It was created by a Durbin-authored provision in the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2009 and the VA issued its first caregivers checks, which average between $600 and $2,200 per month, the summer of 2011.


Captain Simone and Andrea currently live in the Chicago area with their two children, Will and Avery.