CHICAGO (CBS) — Their backgrounds are vastly different, but the candidates for the Democratic primary race for the 8th Congressional District north of Chicago are both focusing on the federal budget for veterans.

As WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports, this Veterans Day, helicopter pilot and former Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth is calling on Washington to reject any cuts to the Veterans Administration just as 30,000 soldiers head home from Iraq.

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LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports

“They’re going to need jobs, and if they can’t find a job, they become more vulnerable to becoming homeless,” she said.
Primary opponent Raja Krishnamoorthi has a brother serving as an internist for veterans at Hines Veterans Hospital, and he too believes budget cutting should spare veterans services.

He says he hopes that “we retain funding at the highest levels possible for medical services provided by the Veterans Administration, and that we do whatever we can to ensure employment for our returning veterans.”

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Krishnamoorthi says honoring veterans service means taking care of them when they return home.

Duckworth lost both her legs while piloting a helicopter during the Iraq War in 2006.

She ran unsuccessfully against Republican Peter Roskam for the 6th Congressional District seat in 2006, and went on to head up the state Veterans Affairs Department, and serve as U.S. Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs under President Barack Obama.

Krishnamoorthi, a former deputy Illinois Treasurer, ran unsuccessfully last year in the Democratic primary for state Comptroller. He lost to David Miller, who in turn lost to Republican Judy Baar Topinka.

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The 8th District is currently represented in Congress by Republican Joe Walsh, a Tea Party favorite and outspoken critic of President Barack Obama and current federal policy.