AW2 Soldier Inducted into Women’s Hall of Fame

By Tania Meireles, WTC Stratcom

MAJ L. Tammy Duckworth (left) was inducted into the Army Women’s Foundation Hall of Fame March 17.

MAJ L. Tammy Duckworth (left) was inducted into the Army Women’s Foundation Hall of Fame March 17.

AW2 Soldier MAJ L. Tammy Duckworth was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the U.S. Army Women’s Foundation for her extraordinary dedication, valor, and patriotism. The Foundation honored her at their Second Annual Symposium and Hall of Fame Luncheon in Washington DC, March 17.

Duckworth is an Iraq War Veteran, former U.S. Army helicopter pilot, double amputee, and recipient of many distinguished service awards, including a Purple Heart, an Air Medal, and an Army Commendation Medal. She is currently the Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.

The Hall of Fame awards are presented to women who have contributed extraordinary service to the Army and any individual who has made exceptional contributions to women in the Army. The U.S. Army Women’s Foundation is a center for education, national network for today’s Army women, and advocate for telling the history of Army women.

MAJ Tammy Duckworth, Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, showed off her freefall flying skills with members of the Golden Knights on February 6, 2010.

MAJ L. Tammy Duckworth (center) showed off her freefall flying skills with members of the Golden Knights on February 6, 2010.

VA, Army officials to discuss collaborative efforts on TV

Brig. Gen. Gary Cheek, commander of the U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command and Department of Veterans Affairs Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs L. Tammy Duckworth participate in a Pentagon Channel interview that will air Friday. The two discussed the state of Army and VA collaboration as it relates to wounded-warrior care.

Brig. Gen. Gary Cheek, commander of the U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command and Department of Veterans Affairs Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs L. Tammy Duckworth participate in a Pentagon Channel interview that will air Friday. The two discussed the state of Army and VA collaboration as it relates to wounded-warrior care.

By Bob Moore, WTC PAO

Army and Veterans Affairs officials will discuss a number of programs in which the two departments collaborate to help wounded, ill and injured Soldiers on a Pentagon Channel interview Friday.

VA Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs L. Tammy Duckworth, who also serves as a major in the Illinois National Guard, and Brig. Gen. Gary Cheek, commander of the U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command, will appear on “This Week at the Pentagon” Dec. 4. The program will air at 4 p.m. EST.

The two officials will discuss goals of the Physical Disability Evaluation System Pilot program, the presence of VA advisors at military treatment facilities and Warrior Transition Units, and the virtual lifetime electronic records system.

Duckworth is a double amputee who lost both of her legs and partial use of one arm after the aircraft she was piloting was ambushed north of Baghdad in 2004.

“We invest so much in our Soldiers when we are training them when they’re serving on active duty,” Duckworth said. “We need to invest just as much into their futures after they take off the uniform. They are just as valuable.”

Duckworth explained what the PDES pilot program will achieve:

  • A single disability exam conducted to VA standards to be used by both VA and DoD
  • A single disability rating by VA that is binding upon both departments
  • Expeditious payment of VA benefits within 30 days of a separation from service

Cheek says he relies on the VA liaison officer within his own command to assist with his mission of transitioning seriously wounded, ill and injured soldiers back to the force or to productive civilian life.

“If we are to have Soldiers be able to step with confidence from the Army to civilian life, then we have got to set the stage through our own relationships with the VA,” Cheek said.

Other areas of Army and VA collaboration include the virtual lifetime electronic records system, VA collaboration with Transition Assistance Programs and VA liaisons and counselors located at military treatment facilities and Warrior Transition Units. Cheek said his mission for wounded, ill and injured Soldiers is not only to heal, but to transition them to a life they want to lead.

“We have a comprehensive transition plan, which focuses the Soldier’s future through a series of goal-setting. We look to inspire warriors toward their future because if they’re excited about their future they are going to heal faster,” Cheek said.

One Visit to VAMC Honolulu Changed My Life

By Simona Jackson, AW2 Advocate

Mary Grimes, AW2 Stratcom

MAJ Duckworth and Victoria Photo Credit: Mary Grimes, AW2

In October 2007, I travelled to Hawaii for a routine AW2 site visit to brief USARPAC Gen John Brown III.

Prior to my departure I took a pregnancy home test which reflected my first pregnancy at 37 years of age. As I traveled, I experienced discomfort, nausea, and cramping – all of which heightened my fears and anxiety. When I arrived in Honolulu, I was advised by our SGM to be seen by a VAMC doctor to ensure my health and welfare.

As an Army Veteran, I had used VAMC services before and was worried about whether or not they would have enough availability for “female services.”

However, on October 17, 2007, I proceeded to the VAMC Honolulu and was asked by the staff to take a blood and urine test. When the tests came back I was encouraged by the female physician who said, “Mrs. Jackson would you like to be the first female Veteran to receive an ultrasound in our Women’s Clinic? It just opened a few days ago.”

I kindly and proudly said, “Yes I will.”

As the ER physician escorted me to the Women’s Clinic and to the ultrasound room she said a small prayer for me and congratulated me again by saying, “See your baby is making history already!”

They allowed me to call my husband, Ronald Jackson, who was in Virginia and we rejoiced together in tears! The service I received at the new VAMC Honolulu Women’s clinic was kind and professional — I am truly grateful to them for service they provided.

After my doctor appointment, I had the honor of meeting MAJ Tammy Duckworth who happened to be in Hawaii visiting her childhood school. It was an incredible feeling to be sharing my first pregnancy pictures with a woman who played an instrumental role in helping to increase access to women’s health services at that time through her position as the Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Earlier this year, MAJ Duckworth, who is now the Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs for the VA, got to meet my little Victoria at AW2′s Annual Training in San Antonio. Victoria smiled as if she had known MAJ Duckworth for years. On our return from San Antonio, my husband and Victoria also had the opportunity to see MAJ Duckworth at the Washington Reagan Airport in Washington D.C. where Victoria gave hugs and hand waves to MAJ Duckworth.

As an AW2 Soldier, MAJ Duckworth needed a new AW2 Advocate when she relocated to Washington, D.C. to serve as the Assistant Secretary. As fate would have it, I was recently assigned to be her advocate.

I am proud to be an AW2 Advocate for MAJ Duckworth and it is a privilege to advocate for her, just as she advocates for all female Veterans.

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