(MCT) — CHICAGO—A congresswoman who lost both of her legs while serving in the Illinois Army National Guard in Iraq applauded the Pentagon’s decision to lift combat restrictions on women.
“The decision to allow women to serve in combat will allow the best man or woman on the frontline to keep America safe,” U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., said in a statement Wednesday. “As a combat veteran, I know the inclusion of women in combat roles will make America safer and provide inspiration to women throughout our country.”
Duckworth was the first woman injured in combat ever elected to national office, when she ousted former Republican Rep. Joe Walsh this past November.
Duckworth operated a black hawk helicopter in the war in Iraq, one of the few combat roles open to women at the time, serving as a lieutenant in the Illinois Army National Guard. In 2004, during a mission north of Baghdad, the helicopter she was co-piloting was ambushed, struck by a rocket-propelled grenade. She lost both of her legs and partial use of one arm in the attack. Duckworth was awarded decorations for her military service, including the Purple Heart, the Air Medal and the Combat Action Badge.
“There has always been some level of opposition to increasing the diversity in our military whether it has been minorities or women. It is clear that the inclusion of groups like African Americans and Asians has made our military stronger,” Duckworth added.