Mother of Firsts
Tammy Duckworth shows up at the Capitol to vote with her 10 day old daughter. Duckworth tweeted this photo with the caption "Maile got some firsthand experience today at the Capitol for #TakeYourChildToWorkDay. She was so excited to be deputized as the newest Junior Capitol Police Officer!" (Photo via Tammy Duckworth Twitter, @SenDuckworth)
Senator and U.S. Army veteran Tammy Duckworth has had a lot of firsts throughout her career, including the first U.S. senator to give birth while in office.
Illinois senator Tammy Duckworth is a double-amputee Iraq war veteran who recently became the first U.S. senator to give birth while in office. Duckworth served as a U.S. Army helicopter pilot in the Iraq War in 2004. November of that same year, Duckworth was in the pilot seat of a Black Hawk helicopter when she noticed they were being fired at. As she turned to her co-pilot to warn her crew, a grenade struck her legs. She attempted to control the aircraft but learned that her legs were missing. Fortunately, her co-pilot was able to safely land the Black Hawk. Unfortunately, Duckworth was losing a colossal amount of blood and military doctors came to the conclusion to amputate her right leg just below her hip bone and her left leg below the knee. She was also the first female amputee in the war.
After recovery, Duckworth did not quit. In 2006, the Army veteran became director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs. In 2009, President Barak Obama appointed her as the assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In 2012 she was elected to Congress and in 2016 she was elected a U.S. senator, making her the first disabled woman and second Asian-American woman in the Senate.
Throughout her career, Duckworth has had many firsts. On top of being the first female amputee in office, she is also the first member of Congress born in Thailand. This year, she became the first female senator to give birth while holding office. Duckworth gave birth to her first daughter in 2014, the same year she announced her retirement from the military. On April 9, 2018 she gave birth to her second daughter and returned to work about 10 days later.
“Parenthood isn’t just a women’s issue, it’s an economic issue and one that affects all parents, men and women alike. As tough as juggling the demands of motherhood and being a Senator can be, I’m hardly alone or unique as a working parent, and my children only make me more committed to doing my job and standing up for hardworking families everywhere,” Duckworth said last month.
As a mother, Duckworth is very supportive of the Family Act bill that was introduced by New York senator, Kristen Gillibrand, that would establish a nationwide insurance program to pay for up to 12 weeks of leave for family and medical purposes with partial pay. Duckworth says that motherhood has allowed her to bring an “underrepresented” perspective to Congress.
Duckworth showed her commitment to being a hardworking mother days after giving birth when she showed up to work to cast a vote with her 10-day-old newborn baby in her lap. This happened just one day after the Senate changed its admission rules that didn’t allow a child younger than one year of age to be present while casting votes. With that being said, Duckworth and her newborn daughter were the first mother-daughter duo to appear on the chamber floor during a vote. Duckworth continues to show what a hardworking mother can achieve, and her journey of firsts continues on.
Mother of Firsts
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