February , 2019

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CHICAGO, IL — In a career spanning over 23 years as an officer, leader of veterans’ services, and as a member of Congress, Tammy Duckworth has focused on her mission, her people, and her responsibilities, always seeking the best possible results.  For her leadership, energy, and efforts, she was honored today with the Abraham Lincoln Veteran Champion Award, presented by Harry Sawyer, Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Interim Director, at an event attended by state-level leaders of the major veteran organizations, supporters, and friends in Wood Dale, Illinois.

“I am honored to have known Tammy Duckworth for ten years, “said Harry Sawyer. “She represents the very best of what our veterans give to the nation, and bring back with them from service.  She’s been a soldier, a leader, and now continues to serve as an elected official, and yet still focuses on her fellow veterans.”

She is the first Asian-American woman elected Illinois to Congress, the first disabled woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and the first member of Congress born in Thailand.

She is an Iraq War Veteran, former IDVA Director, former Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and currently represents the Illinois 8th District in Congress.

“It is a really great honor to serve, “said Rep. Duckworth in thanking Governor Rauner and the IDVA for the award. “I will hold it dear; I will display it proudly.  It’s really a testament to all the people I’ve worked with…” citing the veteran leaders in attendance she worked with on programs to help veterans.

In 2004, Duckworth deployed to Iraq as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot for the Illinois Army National Guard and was one of the first Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Her helicopter was hit by hostile fire on Nov. 12, 2004, and Duckworth lost her legs and partial use of her right arm as result.  She was awarded a Purple Heart for her combat injuries, and also earned the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with M Device, Army Service Ribbon, Army Reserve Component Overseas Training Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Expert Marksmanship Badge (Pistol and Rifle Bars), and the Army Aviator Badge.    She is active in her community, in volunteer service, and recently retired from the National Guard.  She and her family reside in Hoffman Estates.

Sawyer presented Duckworth the Abraham Lincoln Veteran Champion Award, which includes a framed proclamation as well as a State Flag, on behalf of Governor Bruce Rauner.  She was nominated in March 2014 by Theresa Mah, former advisor to then-Governor Pat Quinn, for the award. 

The Abraham Lincoln Veteran Champion Award (ALVCA) highlights and honors Illinois veterans whose contributions in service to the veteran community and their local communities are truly above and beyond. Nominees are evaluated on the basis of their leadership, dedication, innovation, and impact in serving these communities. ALVCA recipients are those whose efforts add to the powerful narrative that veterans are dedicated, lifelong public servants from whose efforts all of Illinois’ communities stand to benefit. In contributing to this narrative through their service to veteran and local communities, the ALVCA recipients not only impact the lives of those they serve, but also the overall advocacy effort for Illinois veterans.  The IDVA readily accepts nominations of veterans for consideration to receive the ALVCA.

Please contact Ryan Yantis, communication manager, IDVA, ryan.yantis@illinois.gov or 312-814-0778 with any question concerning the IDVA or the Abraham Lincoln Veteran Champion Award.

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