McKinley grad tapped for post at VA


POSTED: Wednesday, February 04, 2009

WASHINGTON » Tammy Duckworth, the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs director, was nominated by President Obama yesterday to serve as an assistant secretary at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

  ;  That puts two veterans with Hawaii roots in the top echelons of the department.

Duckworth is a University of Hawaii-Manoa and McKinley High School graduate who earned the Purple Heart for her service in Iraq.

She was a helicopter pilot who lost both her legs and partial use of one arm in a rocket-propelled grenade attack in 2004.

She ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2006.

As assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs, her duties would include directing the department's public affairs operations, as well as programs for homeless veterans.

In a statement released by the White House, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki said communicating with veterans was a key part of improving VA services.

“;Tammy Duckworth brings significant talent, leadership and personal experience to this important work,”; said Shinseki, who is also from Hawaii, as is Obama.

Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, chairman of Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, said Obama made a fine choice in selecting Duckworth to join Shinseki's team at VA.

“;She is a rising star and a source of inspiration for the newest generation of veterans,”; he said. “;She has seen the system from many sides - as a wounded warrior at Walter Reed, an expert witness before Congress, and the head of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. I look forward to working with her.”;

Duckworth was a major in the Illinois National Guard. She was appointed director of the Illinois veterans' agency in 2006.