At a Glance
- Career History: Director, Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, (2007-2009); Illinois Congressional candidate (2006); Captain, helicopter pilot, Iraq war (2004);Manager for District Administration, Rotary International (2002-2004);Coordinator, Center for Nursing Research, Northern Illinois University (1991-2001)
- Hometown: Bangkok, Thailand
- Alma Mater: B.A., Political Science, University of Hawaii; M.A., George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs
- Spouse: Major Bryan Bowlsbey
- Email : N/A
- Website : N/A
Path to Power
Born in 1968, in Bangkok, Thailand, daughter of a U.S. Marine who fought in Vietnam and an ethnic Chinese mother, Duckworth spent most of her childhood in Southeast Asia, as her father moved around for his work with the United Nations.
She graduated with a bachelor's in political science from the University of Hawaii, a master's from George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, and started work on a Ph.D in political science from Northern Illinois University.
Though she served in Iraq, Duckworth has voiced opposition to President George W. Bush's decision to go to war there. She was a prime-time speaker at the Democratic convention in Denver, and used the platform to protest the policy the Bush administration crafted, and that 2008 GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) intended to follow. "We have diverted our military might to Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11," she said. Supporting Obama's views, she said the war on terror should be fought instead in Afghanistan, "where al-Qaida and the Taliban are on the offensive."
Health Care for Veterans
Duckworth has positioned herself as an advocate for wounded veterans with first-hand experience that sharpens her focus on what the Veterans Affairs Department (VA) could do better, given available modern medical technologies.
Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Daniel K. Akaka (D) is a fan, which boded well for Duckworth's confirmation.At the hearing, Senators welcomed her warmly, expressing concerns only that in her new role, she not gloss over any inadequacies found in VA service to veterans. She assured the committee she would approach the job with "candor, transparency, and integrity."
Duckworth's circle of Illinois political connections has brought her to Washington, including President Obama, Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D), and now-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.