WASHINGTON — Wounded Iraq war vet Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., a double amputee, is pregnant.
A girl. Due in early December.
“My husband Bryan and I are thrilled to announce that we are expecting our first child later this year,” Duckworth told me in an e-mail.
“We are overwhelmed by the support of our family, friend and neighbors. I look forward to continuing my work in Congress to make sure that all my constituents have the opportunity to achieve the American Dream,” she said.
Duckworth, 46, a member of the Illinois National Guard, was flying a Black Hawk helicopter over Iraq when she was shot down on Nov. 12, 2004.
She lost both legs and shattered her right arm. Duckworth’s life changed in many ways after a rocket-propelled grenade slammed her Black Hawk, including putting her on a path that led to her election to Congress in 2012.
And now, a baby.
Of the five female vets who are Iraq war amputees, four of them, with Duckworth, are pregnant or recently gave birth. The women — with Chicago connections — were featured together on a segment of NBC’s “Today Show” on Monday, a “band of mothers” talking about their pregnancies and special circumstances.
Duckworth said she has been trying for some time to have a baby and became pregnant through a form of in vitro fertilization.
All the wounded warriors have amazing come back stories.
Chicago’s Melissa Stockwell is an Army vet who lost most of her left leg in 2004 from a roadside bomb in Baghdad. The above the knee amputee went on to compete in the 2008 Paralympics and went on to become a paratriathlon champion. She is a certified prosthetist—and makes Duckworth’s prosthetics. Stockwell’s baby boy is due in late November.
“To think of where we have come from and then ten years later we are having children of our own. I think it is a phenomenal story,” she told “Today.”
At first she did not know if she could have children. “Tammy and I as being lower limb amputees I think very initially wondered if it would be possible to have children and learned pretty quickly you can still have children and provide, but it, I think you have to find yourself first,” Stockwell said.
Another Chicagoan, Danielle Green-Byrd was a star basketball player at Notre Dame before she started her Army career and was deployed to Iraq. In 2004, she was hit during combat and lost an arm. Now a counselor, Green-Byrd counsels vets with PTSD. Her baby son was born ten days ago.
West Point grad Dawn Halfaker lost an arm in Iraq. She went on to found Halfaker and Associates, an IT and software firm. Her baby boy is four months old.
Because of her age and her injuries, Duckworth’s pregnancy is considered high risk.
Duckworth, who has carved out an unusually high profile in Congress for a freshman, is the first disabled female vet—and the first female Asian American from Illinois — to serve in the House.
Duckworth met her husband, Bryan Bowlsbey when they were both in ROTC at George Washington University, where she earned a master’s degree in International Affairs at the school in the nation’s capital. They were married in 1993.
Both Duckworth and Bowlsbey are in the Illinois National Guard. Duckworth is a Lieutenant Colonel who drills in Springfield and Bowlsbey is a Major, currently on assignment at the National Guard headquarters in suburban Virginia.
The pregnant Duckworth has been keeping a full schedule this summer. Her baby is coming as Duckworth’s political stock is high.
On Aug. 13 she traveled to Springfield to keynote a brunch with the state’s top Democrats, in town for the Illinois State Fair. The Hoffman Estates resident is facing only nominal opposition in the November election for the north suburban 8th congressional district seat. Her name is being increasingly mentioned as a potential 2016 challenger to Sen. Mark Kirk R-Ill.
Said Duckworth on “Today,” “These women were there for me as the band of sisters when I went through the greatest pain, the greatest trauma in my life. And now we get to be together for the time of greatest joy.”