WAIKIKI (KHNL) - A proud Hawaii public school graduate turned assistant secretary of Veterans Affairs, Tammy Duckworth shares her vision for Washington. She has two main goals in her new position.
The first is to make sure veterans understand what benefits are out there, and that they come in to get the help they need.
Her second goal is to bring together more public and private partnerships that'll help more veterans.
Duckworth knows the struggles of injured soldiers across the country.
"I understand what it's like for our wounded veterans who try to get care because I'm going through that same process and if I go through a V/A hospital and I'm not getting the best care, then I know that somebody else is suffering as much as I am, we need to fix that problem," she said.
In her arsenal, Duckworth holds two key elements with Hawaii ties that she'll try to use to improve the care of veterans.
"To have that connection where you can actually work together, Senator Akaka, Secretary Shinseki, myself, we're all veterans and so for us, it's very personal, what we do to take care of all the men and women of uniform in this country," she said.
Although she hasn't been on the job long, Duckworth says she already has a plan to help island veterans.
"We have a lot veterans in Hawaii who do not live near V/A facilities, so outreach is part of my job is to make sure where veterans are, that they get the help they need," she said.
Duckworth says President Obama made a key decision recently to help veterans, allowing a 16-percent increase in the V/A's budget.
She tells us it'll not only help today's veterans, but tomorrow's as well.
"We have so many serving in the military and if they're thinking of going to school and there are great schools here in Hawaii, maybe the G.I. Bill will encourage them to apply for it and remain on the islands and go to school," she said.
Duckworth added that one of her biggest accomplishments so far is helping to bring in a partnership between the V/A and the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
"We entered into an agreement, University of Hawaii was selected as one of only five places in the whole country to enter into a nursing school program with the Department of Veterans Affairs," she said.