Duckworth Vs. Walsh: Could This Be A Turning Point For Women In The Military?
11:15 am, July 5th | by Amy Tennery
Illinois congressional contender Tammy Duckworth is a 20-year military veteran, a double-amputee and a former assistant secretary within the Department of Veterans Affairs. In short, she’s one of the most prominent female veterans in the country. So one must wonder then why her opponent, congress member Joe Walsh, decided the week of July 4 was a good time to publicly complain (more than once!) about how often Duckworth talks about her military service. Yiiiiikes.
Duckworth lost both her legs while serving in 2004, when “the helicopter she was flying was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade,” according to the Air Force Times. And Walsh, unlike, oh perhaps everyone else living, thinks that Duckworth should really pipe down about how she’s a military hero and a regulation BAMF.
Let’s take a look at the timeline: On July 1, Walsh said that Duckworth isn’t a “true hero,” according to Think Progress. Referring to her military record, Walsh said “My God, that’s all she talks about. Our true heros, it’s the last thing in the world they talk about. That’s why we’re so indebted and in awe of what they’ve done.” Of course, some people might argue that veterans’ actual military service and not their ability to keep their mouths shut about it is worthy of awe. Just a thought.
Then, on the Fourth of July, Walsh went on The Situation Room, according to Politico, to explain his earlier comments. And by “explain,” I mean “repeat himself nearly verbatim.”
“All she does, guys, is talk about her service,” Walsh said. Really.
This debate, if you can really call it that, considering that the leading non-partisan veterans’ PAC has condemned Walsh’s comments, is a fascinating one, particularly for women in the military. What makes Walsh think this is an okay thing to say? To be sure, his comments were ugly, and would have been just as much so if their target was a man. But given women’s embattled position in the military — and Duckworth’s vaunted status as a woman and a combat hero — what is it saying that a congress member thinks she doesn’t have the right to tout her military record?
Image via Tammy Duckworth.