HerStory 2021: Tammy Duckworth

US Senator Tammy Duckworth is our October HerStory recipient. She is a decorated veteran of the war in Iraq, and was the first disabled woman to hold a seat in the US House of Representatives, elected in 2012. She moved from the House to the Senate in 2016, and has spent her time in Congress fighting for both Veteran’s rights and Family Leave. When she had her second child in 2018, she became the first person to give birth while serving in Congress. She then proceeded to load her 10-day old baby up and bring her to the floor of Congress to cast an important vote on a presidential appointment that she opposed.  

Duckworth wanted more than anything to be a helicopter pilot, and even after being shot down and losing both legs and the full use of one arm in a rocket-propelled grenade attack, her recovery was focused on once again getting into the cockpit. A friendship with a sitting US Senator changed all of that. This senator encouraged her to run for office, and once it became clear that her injuries were going to preclude her from flying, she threw her hat in the ring on a congressional seat, which she lost. Undeterred, Tammy Duckworth took that loss as an opportunity, and her new life trajectory was begun. Shortly after, she was appointed as Director of Veterans Affairs in Illinois, and in 2012, she ran for a House seat, won that, and has been in politics ever since. Two causes she has consistently supported are family leave rights and veteran’s issues. 

Like many of our HerStory recipients, Senator Duckworth was the first of many things: the first first female double amputee from the Iraq war; the first Thai American woman elected to Congress; the first person born in Thailand elected to Congress; the first woman with a disability elected to Congress; the first female double amputee in the Senate; and the first senator to give birth while in office. Her strength and commitment are an inspiration to us all, and our Veteran Affairs colorway, dyed to look like the camouflaged uniform she wore while in the service, pays homage to the armed forces, for which she continues to fight. Because she was the first in all of these ways, the path is clearer for others to make their own way.