The National Republican Senatorial Committee said in a tweet that “Tammy Duckworth has a sad record of not standing up for our veterans. ” The tweet was later deleted after quickly receving criticism from Democrats and others who pointed out that Duckworth, a Democratic congresswoman from Illinois, lost both of her legs while serving in Iraq in 2004.
Duckworth was a student at Northern Illinois University when she was deployed to Iraq as part of her role in the United States Army Reserve, according to her official bio. She was a helicopter pilot, deciding on the position as it was one of the few combat jobs open to women.
In a statement, NRCC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek said, “It would be great if reporters would pay as much attention to a deleted tweet as they should to Tammy Duckworth being sued by V.A. whistle-blowers for ignoring claims of mistreatment and corruption.”
Duckworth’s campaign fired back.
“Tammy has made fighting for Veterans her life’s work, and will continue to do so in the Senate,” a campaign spokesman, Matt McGrath, told the New York Times.
On November 12, the UH-60 Black Hawk that she was piloting was shot down by a rocket propelled grenade fired by insurgents. Duckworth lost her her right leg close to her hip and he left leg from below her knee. She was the first female double amputee from the war in Iraq. According to Duckworth, the attack “almost completely destroyed her right arm, breaking it in three places and tearing tissue from the back side of it.” Her arm was eventually saved.
On December 3, 2004, Duckworth was awarded the Purple Heart and on December 21, she was promoted to Major. She served out her time in the service working at the Rotary International headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, retiring in October 2014, while pregnant, after attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel.
The group later deleted the message, replacing it with a tweet reading, “Duckworth turned her back on reports of VA wrongdoing.” It was accompanied with a link to this article from WLS-AM. The piece openly criticizes Duckworth numerous times, through comments made by VA whistleblower, Dr. Germaine M. Clarno.
She is competing with fellow Democrats Andrea Zopp and Napoleon Harris in the primary election to challenge U.S. Senator Mark Kirk in 2016.