Honolulu — Congresswoman and Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth endorsed her fellow Lt. Col and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran Mark Takai, who is running for Congress in the 1st Congressional District, before a crowd of veterans at Keehi Lagoon Memorial Park on November 25.
“I’m standing with Mark Takai today because he offers two things this Congress is lacking – courage and the ability to get things done,” Duckworth said.
Duckworth graduated from McKinley High School and the University of Hawaii before commanding a Black Hawk Helicopter unit in Iraq. Duckworth and Takai met while both served as student leaders at UH-Manoa.
“Mark has served with me in uniform in the Middle East and in his two decades in the Hawaii State House he’s stood up for our fellow vets, authored the state’s College Savings Program, and led initiatives to protect retirement security and to create a new clean energy economy,” Duckworth added.
Duckworth also discussed her new legislation she calls the “Support Earned Recognition for Veterans” Act (SERVe Act), which aims to crack down on those who game the system to receive veterans disability benefits and contract set-asides they have not legitimately earned.
The legislation stems from a dramatic hearing last June in which Duckworth severely chastised an IRS contractor for faking a service-connected injury to gain special contracting status as a disabled vet. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPOKm20wP4s)
In accepting Duckworth’s endorsement Takai said, “I’m so proud and honored to be endorsed by Tammy Duckworth, a true American hero.”
“I can’t wait to stand side-by-side with Tammy Duckworth in Congress to protect our fellow vets, and work together on the things we both care passionately about like making college more affordable, creating new clean energy jobs and ensuring our seniors are not asked to pay more because the wealthiest Americans are not paying their fair share.”
In 2004, the Black Hawk Duckworth was piloting was hit by an insurgent’s rocket propelled grenade. Duckworth lost both her legs, and partial use of her right arm in the attack, but helped her co-pilot land the aircraft, saving the lives of her crew. Duckworth was awarded combat medals and the Purple Heart. She was elected to Congress in 2012 from the 8th Congressional District in Illinois.
Takai also garnered support from a group of military veterans, who call themselves the “Veterans for Takai.” Led by Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Rick Richardson, Allen Hoe, David Brostrom and Ed Gayagas, these veterans are supporting Takai because of Takai’s long-standing commitment to the military and veterans in Hawaii.
“All through his 19 years in the Legislature, Mark Takai has been our champion for the military and our veterans,” Richardson said. “He will continue to be our champion in Congress.”
Takai has served for more than 19 years in the Hawaii State House, where he has coordinated the Hawaii State Legislature’s Military Appreciation Package for 10 years. He created the Hawaii Medal of Honor and also helped to create the Veterans Court, which connects veterans to the social services and VA benefits they need and deserve.
K. Mark Takai is a member of the Hawaii Army National Guard. Use of his military rank, job titles, and photographs in uniform does not express or imply endorsement by the Hawaii Army National Guard, the Department of the Army, or the Department of Defense.