Duquoin Call: Duckworth talks with southern Illinois veterans

MARION — U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth and nearly 100 southern Illinois veterans got together in Marion this week, where she told them she does not support privitization of Veterans Affairs. and that she believes more investigation is needed into the Marion VA Medical Center.

Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran and U.S. Army helicopter pilot, lost both her legs and some mobility in her right arm from severe combat wounds in 2004. She was a congressman from suburban Chicago before being elected to the U.S. Senate from Illinois in 2016.

She said that veterans who visit non-VA doctors aren’t always screened for all the possible health conditions that could arise from military service, such as Agent Orange exposure.

Duckworth appeared alongside St. Clair State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly, the Democrat who is running against congressman Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro) in the 12th district.

Duckworth expressed frustration that legislation introduced by Bost, to reform hiring for Human Resources positions at Veterans Health Administration facilities, is sitting in committee.

“We’re going to stay on top of it,” Duckworth said.

Duckworth told the group that a former VAMC radiologist contacted her office in July concerning patients whose exams he alleges were botched. She said the radiologist had been working at the Marion facility for only a few weeks when he began finding errors, claiming some patients who were previously diagnosed as healthy on previous scans actually had serious medical conditions such as cancer.

Duckworth said the VA Office of General Counsel has agreed to investigate.

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