First disabled woman elected to congress
"Tammy Duckworth is an American politician and retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel, serving as the junior United States Senator for Illinois since 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, she earlier represented Illinois' 8th district for two terms (2013–2017) in the United States House of Representatives. Before election to office, she served as Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs in the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (2009-2011), and she was the Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs (2006-2009). In the 2016 election, Duckworth defeated incumbent Republican Senator Mark Kirk for the seat in the United States Senate.
Duckworth was the first Asian American woman elected to Congress in Illinois, the first disabled woman to be elected to Congress, and the first member of Congress born in Thailand. Her father, an American, and her Thai mother were working and living there at the time. Duckworth is the second Asian-American woman serving in the U.S. Senate after Mazie Hirono and next to Kamala Harris.
An Iraq War veteran, Duckworth served as a U.S. Army helicopter pilot and suffered severe combat wounds, losing both of her legs and damaging her right arm. She was the first female double amputee from the war. Having received a medical waiver, she continued to serve as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard along with her husband, Major Bryan W. Bowlsbey, a signal officer and fellow Iraq War veteran, until her retirement from the Army in October 2014.
Duckworth was working towards a Ph.D. in political science at Northern Illinois University, with research interests in the political economy and public health in southeast Asia, when she was deployed to Iraq in 2004. She lost her right leg near the hip and her left leg below the knee from injuries sustained on November 12, 2004, when the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter she was co-piloting was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade fired by Iraqi insurgents. She was the first American female double amputee from the Iraq war. The explosion "almost completely destroyed her right arm, breaking it in three places and tearing tissue from the back side of it". The doctors "reset the bones in her arm and stitched the cuts" to save her arm. Duckworth received a Purple Heart on December 3 and was promoted to Major on December 21 at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where she was presented with an Air Medal and Army Commendation Medal. She retired from the Illinois Army National Guard in October 2014 as a lieutenant colonel. She returned to school and completed a PhD in Human Services at Capella University in March 2015...
In July 2011, Duckworth launched her campaign to run in 2012 for Illinois's 8th congressional district. Duckworth defeated former Deputy Treasurer of IllinoisRaja Krishnamoorthi for the Democratic nomination on March 20, 2012, then faced incumbent Republican Joe Walsh in the general election. Duckworth received the endorsement of both the Chicago Tribune and the Daily Herald. Walsh generated controversy when in July 2012, at a campaign event, he accused Duckworth of politicizing her military service and injuries, saying "my God, that's all she talks about. Our true heroes, the men and women who served us, it's the last thing in the world they talk about." Walsh called the controversy over his comments "a political ploy to distort my words and distract voters" and said that "Of course Tammy Duckworth is a hero ... I have called her a hero hundreds of times." On November 6, 2012, Duckworth defeated Walsh 55%–45%. She became the first disabled woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and the first member of Congress born in Thailand...
On March 30, 2015, Duckworth announced that she would challenge incumbent U.S. Senator Mark Kirk for his seat in the 2016 Senate election in Illinois. Duckworth defeated fellow Democrats Andrea Zopp and Napoleon Harris in the primary election on March 15, 2016." (1)