Monday, June 25, 2007
Is America really at war? Tammy Duckworth is.
Then I met Tammy Duckworth, a double amputee from the Iraq war who continues the fight at home. In November 2004, she lost both legs when her helicopter was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade. Thirteen months later, Tammy ran for Congress, losing by less than 3 percent of the vote. The narrow loss only motivated her more. Tammy now fights for veterans' health care as director of Illinois' Deptartment of Veterans Affairs.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta and I were with Tammy when she received her prosthetic legs this spring. At the same time, the war in Iraq was getting very personal once again for Tammy. She had to say goodbye to her husband, Maj. Bryan Bowlsbey, who is deploying to Iraq with the Illinois National Guard. I asked Bryan whether the thought of staying home for Tammy had crossed his mind. The soldier in him spoke first saying, "That's not what we do." Then the tears came, a soldier torn between caring for his wife at home and serving his country overseas.
Tammy and Bryan weren't the only ones crying in Delavan, Illinois. About 60 families were saying goodbye to their loved ones. I had felt so far removed from the Iraq war until that day. Witnessing the pain of sending a husband, a brother, a mother off to war, made the war all the more real. And for these brave military families, every day is a day at war.
For more on Tammy and Bryan, watch Dr. Sanjay Gupta's report on "Anderson Cooper 360" tonight at 10 ET
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