Congresswoman and Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth endorsed 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 Monday.
Takai is running for the U.S. House seat currently held by Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. Hanabusa will be running for Senate.
"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.
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.
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 longstanding commitment to the military and veterans in Hawaii.
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.
Takai is running against Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, Sen. Will Espero, City Council members Ikaika Anderson and Stanley Chang, and community activist Kathryn Xian.