U.S. Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth held a Town Hall meeting at the Joint United States Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) located in Bangkok on the evening of 29 August 2013. She is an Iraq War Veteran and former Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
Lance Corporal Bret Mays represented the Young Marines of Pattaya at the occasion. At which, Congresswoman Duckworth was introduced by Colonel Desmond Walton, the Commanding Officer of JUSMAGTHAI. Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth attended college at the University of Hawaii and then went on to the George Washington University, where she earned a Master of Arts in International Affairs. Following graduation, she, who is fluent in Thai and Indonesian, moved to Illinois, where she began pursuing a Ph.D. in Political Science at Northern Illinois University.
In 2004, Congresswoman Duckworth was deployed to Iraq as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot for the Illinois Army National Guard. She was one of the first Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. On November 12, 2004 her helicopter was hit by an RPG. She lost her legs and partial use of her right arm in the explosion and was awarded a Purple Heart for her combat injuries.
Congresswoman Duckworth spent the next year recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. As one of the highest-ranking patients, she quickly became an advocate for her fellow soldiers and testified before Congress about caring for our Veterans and wounded warriors.
Following her recovery, Duckworth ran for Congress in 2006. After a narrow loss, she became director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. In Illinois, she worked to create a tax credit for employers who hired Veterans, established a first-in-the-nation 24/7 crisis hotline for Veterans, and developed innovative programs to improve Veterans’ access to housing and health care. Fulfilling a promise that the Purple Heart recipient made at Walter Reed, she has taken up scuba diving, surfing, skydiving and flies as a civilian pilot. She has also completed several marathons.
In 2009, President Obama appointed the Congresswoman to be Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA). While at the VA, she led an initiative to end homelessness among Veterans and created the Office of Online Communications to improve the VA’s accessibility, especially among young Veterans, and also worked to address the unique challenges that Native American and female Veterans face. Lieutenant Colonel Duckworth declined a military medical retirement and continues to drill in the Illinois Army National Guard.
The Congresswoman primarily spoke on information that would concern veterans seeking assistance from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. She also spoke about emotional and physical needs of veterans returning from combat. The Congresswoman pointed out that some needs may not even show up for many years after leaving combat. The Congresswoman gave examples of veterans from the Vietnam War after almost 50 years just now coming down with illnesses from Agent Orange. And naturally there was some pilot talk about Blackhawk helicopters.
Other local organizations were represented by Al Serrato, Commander of District 5 of Veteran of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Service Officer of VFW Post #9876. Also in attendance was Reed Johnson, CEO of the 46th Special Forces Company (Airborne). It was a very informative meeting and an enjoyable evening.
For information concerning the Young Marines of Pattaya, please contact Rad Mays at 083 115 8694 or email to [email protected]
Young Marines Pattaya Thailand is an affiliate of Young Marines Washington DC, USA.
U.S. Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth
U.S. Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth and Young Marines L/Cpl Bret Mays.
Young Marines L/Cpl Bret Mays watches as Col Desmon Walton introduces Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth at JUSMAGTHAI.