January 26, 2021

Duckworth Meets with Veterans Affairs Secretary Nominee Denis McDonough


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — U.S. Senator and former Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a combat Veteran who served 23 years in the Reserve Forces and still receives her own healthcare services through the VA, released the following statement after meeting with Denis McDonough, President Biden’s nominee to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs. During their conversation, they discussed how to ensure America’s Veterans can access the high-quality care, support and other benefits they have earned as well as the need to make sure Veterans voices and concerns are heard at the highest levels of the VA.

“I’m encouraged by the frank conversation I had with Secretary-designate McDonough and think his experience overcoming bureaucracy will be invaluable as he takes over the reins at VA. I was pleased that he acknowledged the need to repair and rebuild the VA’s relationships with Congress and the Veteran Service Organizations, and I hope he will make a conscious effort to include Veterans with different backgrounds and life experiences as he builds his VA leadership team. If confirmed, I look forward to having a productive relationship and working closely with him so we can improve VA services for all of our Veterans.”

Duckworth has dedicated her life to serving America’s servicemembers and Veterans. As a Senator, she has been outspoken about protecting Veterans’ access to healthcare, introduced legislation to help Veterans become citizens and she worked to pass an amendment to help train Veterans for jobs in fast-growing energy industries. In 2019, Senator Duckworth introduced a suite of bills to improve U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) services by addressing Veteran suicide, homelessness and access to healthcare. Duckworth’s proposals—the Veteran Employment and Childcare Access Act, Access to Contraception Expansion for Veterans (ACE Veterans) Act and Post 9/11 Veteran Suicide Prevention Counseling Act—would increase access to childcare services and help reduce Veteran suicide. She helped reintroduce the Deborah Sampson Act to improve VA services and access for women Veterans and introduced the Veterans Expedited TSA Screening (VETS) Safe Travel Act to make air travel easier for Veterans with disabilities by providing them with TSA PreCheck at no cost.

As a Congresswoman, she coauthored the bipartisan Clay Hunt SAV (Suicide Prevention for American Veterans) Act, which passed both the House and Senate unanimously and was signed into law to improve mental healthcare services for Veterans and reduce Veteran suicide. She also introduced the bipartisan Troop Talent Act—large portions of which were signed into law—to help servicemembers transition to civilian life by making it easier for them to turn the skills they learned in the military into the credentials and licenses needed for similar civilian fields.