DUCKWORTH: My dad was a veteran who put himself through college on the GI Bill and worked really hard and then, boom, at 55 he found himself without a job because the company he worked for was sold. There were lots of time when we would not have eaten if it were not for the food stamps that kept our family going. What seems like comfort and security one day can just all be taken away very quickly the next.
BRYAN BOWLSBEY: I see her in a professional setting and I see her in our private lives, and she really just exhibits courage in every sense.
DUCKWORTH: I was privileged to be one of the first Army women to fight combat missions in Iraq.
BOWLSBEY: She has a deep sense of gratitude for the guys that actually carried her off of that bloody field, put her on another helicopter and got her out of there. They didn’t have to do that. It looked like she was dead.
DUCKWORTH: There is no reason why I made it home other than through the heroism of my buddies. I really see this time as a bonus time but also that I have an obligation to do more during this time in my life because ultimately on the worst day that I have here, it is never going to be as bad as it was in Iraq. That allows me to be more fearless, and it allows me to take chances, and it allows me to speak up.
BOWLSBEY: I haven’t seen the wounds, and I haven’t seen the pain or any of the things that she has gone through ever stop her from doing anything.
DUCKWORTH: I met Brian in ROTC. We were both cadets at the same time. He made some sort of a comment about women and their service in combat.
BOWLSBEY: There was this other cadet who made a disparaging comment about females.
DUCKWORTH: I must have glared at him, I guess.
BOWLSBEY: I felt this glow on my cheek, and I turned and I looked and there’s this rather tall Asian woman with an M16 rifle and she just did not look happy. I went over and offered to help her clean her rifle, which she already knew full well how to do.
DUCKWORTH: Girls love a guy who comes to help her clean her rifle, and he got my phone number after that. I’m really grateful to President Obama for giving me the opportunity to serve in Washington at the Department of Veterans Affairs. It really allowed me to serve my buddies and fight for our vets, not just the ones who come home wounded but those who come home who just need a job or want to go back to school. You know, life isn’t fair, and it’s not the government’s job to make life fair but government shouldn’t hurt you; it should help you. If you’re 55 years old like my dad and you lose your job, we should have programs and incentives out there so that small employers will hire you, so that if you need to be retrained there are programs out there that will help you to find those new skills. You may not come from a wealthy family and have no idea how you are going to go to college, but there should be programs there that help you get that education that you need so that you do have a shot at the American dream. Because of you’re not willing to give up when life isn’t fair then we’re not going to give up on you, either.