WASHINGTON--In 2005, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) started his tradition of asking wounded Illinois soldiers to be his guest at the State of the Union--with then Army Major Tammy Duckworth his guest that year. Now Duckworth is a member of Congress--in a political career launched by Durbin, who met her that State of the Union night.
On Tuesday, Durbin's guest is Sergeant First Class Pedro Ortiz-Roman from Chicago.
"Sergeant First Class Ortiz has given so much in service to our nation. I think it is only fitting that he is here tonight to be a part of this special moment in our nation's history - the State of the Union address," said Durbin. "I am humbled by his service and honored to introduce him to my Senate colleagues and have him as my guest this evening."
Bio, via Durbin release:
Sergeant First Class Pedro Ortiz-Roman was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico, and moved to Chicago as a child. He joined the Army in April 2001. After spending five years in the Ranger Battalion in Savannah, Georgia, he served five additional active duty years with the 7th Special Forces Group before joining the U.S. Army National Guard 20th Special Forces Group.
During his 12 year career, Sergeant First Class Ortiz deployed on a total of 7 combat tours to Iraq and Afghanistan in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn. In Iraq he received a Purple Heart and Army Commendation Medal with Valor while saving fellow Rangers pinned by enemy fire. His additional deployments to train commandos include South Africa, Suriname, and Panama.
Sergeant First Class Ortiz suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder while deployed in Panama in March 2012. After receiving treatments in Florida, he was moved to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he has been treated for the last six months. He plans to return to his wife and two children in Chicago when released from Walter Reed.