VA official celebrates ‘Alive Day’ with crew
By Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg
Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, (11/11/09) - As the nation honors its past and present servicemembers on this Veterans Day, many who have worn the uniform of their country will reflect on their service’s creed and what it means to them.
One wounded warrior drew strength from the Soldier’s Creed during some of the darkest days in her recovery.
Maj. L. Tammy Duckworth, an Army National Guard helicopter pilot and the Veterans Affairs Department’s assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs, taped copies of the Soldier’s Creed outside her door and across from her bed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here as she struggled to recover from injuries she suffered in Iraq in 2004.
These are the words she said helped her survive:
“I am an American Soldier. I am a Warrior and member of a team. I serve the people of the United States and live the Army values. I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade. I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills. I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself. I am an expert and I am a professional. I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat. I am guardian of freedom and the American way of life. I am an American soldier.”
“For me, the Soldier’s Creed was critical to my survival after I was injured,” Duckworth said. “When I woke up and I was going through everything I was going through in an intensive care unit and when I finally went to my room, they just had my name on the outside of my door. And, I wanted people to know that a soldier was in this room.
“I put that creed outside of my door because that is what I lived by,” she continued. “I put it on my room on the wall opposite of my bed so that I could read it every day, and on the days when I didn’t think I could make it.”
This year, the day after Veterans Day, Duckworth and the Black Hawk crew that was with her the day their helicopter was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade will get together to reminisce and celebrate their “alive day” -- a day known to wounded warriors as the day they were wounded and lived.
“We get together once a year on ‘alive day’ to celebrate survival, to celebrate a new birthday,” she said. “That day will be stuck in our minds for the rest of our lives. It can be a really sad day or it can be a really happy day, and we chose to make it a happy day.”...
There is more on this column here.
Then, I found this:
L. Tammy DuckworthM. Spencer Green/Associated Press
L. Tammy Duckworth is the director of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs. She was mentioned as a posssible secretary of veterans affairs in the Obama administration, as well as a contender for United States senator from Illinois, but she was not chosen for either position.
She is a disabled veteran of the Iraq war, where she lost her legs when the helicopter she was flying was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade on Nov. 12, 2004. She became an advocate for veterans while still a patient at Walter Reed Medical Center, and she began speaking out — before Congress and later in an unsuccessful bid for Henry J. Hyde’s former seat in the House — about unmet needs regarding health care, employment and housing.
Still a major in the Illinois National Guard, she has credibility with other service members (especially other Iraq veterans), whom she often refers to as “my buddies.” The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs claims more than $70 million in new initiatives during her nearly two years in the post as of late 2008...(more here)