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Mr. Obama’s friend, Tammy Duckworth, a major in the National Guard who unsuccessfully ran for a congressional seat in Illinois in 2006, also is under consideration for an administration position dealing with veterans issues. She lost both legs and severely injured her arm in the Iraq war and is currently serving as the director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.

The political action committee VoteVets has collected more than 5,700 signatures on an online petition detailing Mr. Cleland’s and Ms. Duckworth’s service and asking Mr. Obama to consider both for administration positions.

“They have experience dealing with issues that affect troops and veterans every day and can convey that and bridge that gap between the administration and the military and veterans community,” said Brandon Friedman, vice chairman of the group.

• Jon Ward and Ben Conery contributed to this report.