Disabled Iraq Veteran Chosen to Head Veterans Affairs in Illinois

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Governor picks Duckworth to head Veterans’ Affairs

Iraq war veteran and former congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth has a new mission: director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced Tuesday.

Leading the agency was a logical next step following a losing bid to replace retiring Rep. Henry Hyde in the 6th Congressional District, said Duckworth, a former Army helicopter pilot who lost her legs after a rocket-propelled grenade attack north of Baghdad.

As a soldier I fought for my country, and now I thank Governor Blagojevich for giving me the opportunity to fight for my fellow Illinois veterans, Duckworth said in a statement Tuesday.

Duckworth’s experiences as a soldier and rank as major in the Illinois Army National Guard will help her run the department that handles benefits, education and nursing care for military veterans and their families, Blagojevich said.

She has been an inspiration to people all over the country, showing extraordinary personal strength and speaking out on behalf of soldiers who are coming home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Blagojevich said in a statement. I know that as the director of Veterans’ Affairs, she will inspire her department to do everything they can to make sure every veteran is getting the assistance and services they’ve earned.

Duckworth, 38, of Hoffman Estates, replaces Vietnam veteran Roy Dolgos, who will become deputy director of administration with the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Highways, Blagojevich said…

     

Duckworth’s first priority is to boost enrollment in the state’s Veterans Care program, which would help more than 9,000 Illinois veterans who don’t qualify for federal aid, the governor said.

As of last week, only 14 people had enrolled in the program in 75 days, with an additional 19 applications pending, according to the Blagojevich administration.

Duckworth’s appointment to the $102,000-a-year-job is scheduled to begin Dec. 15 and still needs confirmation from the state Senate.

Before the war, Duckworth was manager of district administration for Rotary International’s Asia-Pacific region. She also helped coordinate research grants and funding at the Center for Nursing Research at Northern Illinois University, and was a logistics officer with the National Guard in Peoria.


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