National Press Club

Iraq War veteran Duckworth says it's harder to find qualified military recruits

March 13, 2019 | By Anne Bader | anne.bader@gmail.com

Sen. Tammy Duckworth said recruiting has become harder for the U.S. armed forces at a March 13 National Press Club event..

Sen. Tammy Duckworth said recruiting has become harder for the U.S. armed forces at a March 13 National Press Club event..

Photo/Image: Alan Kotok

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a veteran of the Iraq War, said it is becoming harder to find qualified recruits for the U.S. armed forces.

"Only 29 percent of today’s recruits are considered fit to serve,” she told a National Press Club Headliners Newsmaker on Wednesday. “We can’t dominate if three fourths of our citizens don’t qualify.”

Duckworth, D-Ill., ticked off several reasons, including obesity, cuts in nutrition programs, the opioid crisis and education spending reductions.

She advocated an agenda that included investing in schools, better health and health care, and taking steps to combat climate change, which she called "a national security threat."

“Green energy is more efficient and less of a target in war than caravans of fossil fuel trucks,” she said.

Duckworth lost both legs and partial use of her arm when her Blackhawk helicopter was shot down in Iraq in 2004. “When I was bleeding out in that helicopter, I didn’t care who helped save me,” she said.

Elected to the Senate in 2017, Duckworth sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee.