Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran, called on the country to do more for its veterans on the 10th anniversary of the war and to not be duped into another war.
"We could be doing so much better," she said on The Rachel Maddow Show Tuesday. "I do think we’re doing better for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans than we did for Vietnam veterans but that was a pretty low bar."
Duckworth lost both her legs while serving as an Army helicopter pilot in the Iraq War and is the former assistant secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs in the Department of Veterans Affairs. She defeated Tea Party favorite Rep. Joe Walsh in November to win Illinois’ 8th district.
"We’re simply not living up to the promises we’ve made to them," Duckworth continued. "We can do better. We’re not providing the jobs that we need to give them. We’re not helping them with housing. Sequestration is going to cut homeless programs…We’ve got a long way to go."
The freshman congresswoman also called for a "real honest discussion" before elected officials consider sending U.S. troops into combat zones.
"The lesson that we need to learn [after the Iraq War] is the need for real honest discussion and real questioning of the information that’s being given to you," she said. "In the run-up to the Iraq War, not only were the American people lied to but Congress was lied to. I think a lot of members of Congress voted for the war because they were being threatened and had their patriotism questioned...I hope as we talk about Iran and Syria and other places where people want to just push American troops on to the ground that we have a real honest discussion. It’s one of the reasons I ran for Congress. Because I’m going to be here along with my fellow veterans to say we’re going to have a real discussion. When you sound the drumbeats for war, let me tell you what it’s going to cost."
Watch Duckworth below.
Maddow dedicated the first portion of this segment to those who deserve "A Special Place in Hell," for taking advantage of Americans' desire to support veterans. She highlighted fake veterans charities as well as cuts to federal programs designed to help veterans and their families.
"We are still made to feel we are doing right on account of all the yellow ribbons and stump speech callouts to returning troops, and the airline commercials where, ‘customers, step aside so the soldiers can go first,'" Maddow said. But veterans are not getting the help we've promised to those "who signed up to serve."