March 17, 2005
Contact: Jeff Schrade (202)224-9093

(Washington, DC) Major Tammy Duckworth, a pilot with the Illinois National Guard, kept members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs in rapt attention today as she told her story.

The Hawaii native lost both of her legs after a rocket propelled grenade hit the Black Hawk helicopter she was in while flying in the skies above Iraq. Although now a double amputee, the major is determined to both walk and pilot helicopters again ? after her rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.


But the story she told today was not the one most expected to hear.

Instead of getting into the gritty details of the attack that caused her injuries, Duckworth focused on the care she has received and made recommendations to the committee.

(See pictures from the hearing at: 2005 - March 17 - Tammy Duckworth hearing.)

"As disabled soldiers transition to veteran status, we will look to the VA to provide continued access to healthcare, health technology, assisted living devices and social services. The VA will have to face the challenge of providing care at the high level set by the military healthcare facilities," Duckworth told the committee.

Her comments were well received by Chairman Larry Craig (R-Idaho). Yesterday the U.S. Senate passed an amendment to the budget that he had co-sponsored with Sen. John Ensign (R-Nevada) to increase funding for the Department of Veterans' Affairs by $410 million, raising the VA's overall discretionary budget by $1.2 billion for 2006.

Craig now intends to make sure that the funding is enough to ensure that those who serve our nation are well treated after they leave active duty.

"Seventeen hundred of my fellow Idahoans with the Army National Guard's 116th Calvary Brigade are now serving overseas in Iraq," Craig said, adding that later this year he will visit the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. "For those that are wounded, both physically and mentally, we must ensure that there is a seamless transition from active duty soldier to VA care."