Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., an alumna who has risen from wounded Iraq War soldier to newly inducted congresswoman, will join University President Steven Knapp to honor veterans Sunday.
The ceremony at the F Street House, Knapp’s on-campus residence, will also include student veterans and prominent alumni with military experience to celebrate the armed forces on the eve of the inauguration. The event is one of just a handful GW will put on for inauguration weekend this year.
Duckworth, a Democrat and 1992 graduate of the Elliott School of International Affairs master’s program, was sworn in Jan. 3. She is now one of the most influential former Colonials on Capitol Hill who maintains ties with the University.
Four years ago, she earned GW’s first Colin Power Public Service Award while she was an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. She has credited her experiences in the Elliott School with inspiring her to join the military.
Duckworth is the first disabled woman in Congress. She lost both her legs in Iraq when the helicopter she was flying was shot down.
Her political prowess is now helping draw more veterans back to campus as the University continues to pump up its academic offerings for ex-soldiers.
GW is annually awarded high scores in the Military Times EDGE magazine’s list of veteran-friendly schools. Known for generous aid packages and an active support staff, GW has also increased the number of student veterans threefold under the post-9/11 GI Bill in four years.
Vice Admiral Norb Ryan, who graduated from GW in 1974 and is now president of the Military Officers Association of America, said he is coming to the reception to support GW’s outreach to veterans. The University has stepped up its military support in GW’s six years under Knapp.
“Everyone feels a responsibility to mingle with today’s students and veterans to hear new ways we can support them and the University,” Ryan said.
Former Assistant Secretary of the Navy B.J. Penn, who graduated from GW in 1980 and now serves on the Board of Trustees, will also attend the event.
Ryan said events such as the F Street House reception, along with the support of alumni like Duckworth will help spur the growth of GW’s military footprint.
“Duckworth is an outstanding example of someone who set a goal to support veterans,” Ryan said. “Being in her company will be an honor.”
This article was updated Jan. 18, 2013 to reflect the following:
A previous version of this article stated that the F Street House event would take place Saturday. It will be held Jan. 20, a Sunday.