FILE – This Nov. 15, 2012 file photo shows Iraq war veteran, Rep.-elect Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., who lost both legs in combat before turning to politics, arriving for a group photo on the East steps of the Capitol in Washington. Veterans groups say the influx of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in Congress is welcome because it comes at a time when the overall number of veterans in Congress is on a steep and steady decline. In the mid-1970s, the vast majority of lawmakers tended to be veterans. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
WASHINGTON (AP) — As Tammy Duckworth sees it, her path to Congress began when she awoke in the fall of 2004 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. She was missing both of her legs and faced the prospect of losing her right arm.
Months of agonizing therapy lay ahead. As the highest-ranking double amputee in the ward, Maj. Duckworth became the go-to person for soldiers complaining of substandard care and bureaucratic ambivalence.
Soon, she was pleading their cases to federal lawmakers, including her state’s two U.S. senators at the time — Democrats Dick Durbin and Barack Obama of Illinois. Obama arranged for her to testify at congressional hearings. Durbin encouraged her to run for office.
She lost her first election, but six years later gave it another try and now is one of nine veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who will serve in next year’s freshman class in the of House of Representatives.
Veterans’ groups say the influx of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is welcome because it comes at a time when the overall number of veterans in Congress is on a steep and steady decline. In the mid-1970s, the vast majority of lawmakers tended to be veterans.
For example, the 95th Congress, which served in 1977-78, had more Login to read more