Female Vets Running for Congress: Into Double Digits

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Four months back, I wrote about four female veterans running for Congress. It turns out they’re not the only ones, by a long shot.

And boy are they needed: in the 112th Congress, women only hold 16% of the 435 House seats and 17 of the 100 seats in the Senate. Amazingly, there are only 92 veterans in the House of Representatives, and 26 in the Senate, only one of which is a woman. That there are 10 women veterans running is historic in itself, it would be awesome if all or most of them are elected in November.

For those of you keeping track at home, here’s the roster:

— Sandy Adams is serving her first term as Republican congresswoman for Florida’s 24th district. She currently is the only female veteran in Congress. She was a military brat, and enlisted in the Air Force in 1974 at age 17. She left the Air Force in 1975 to get married, and though she faced a subsequent divorce, she used her inner strength to work and complete her GED to make a better life for her and her daughter. She attended the police academy and served as a deputy sheriff for 17 years before returning to school to get her BA in criminal justice. She served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2002 to 2010 prior to joining Congress in 2011. She is tough on crime and strong on homeland security issues.

— Heather Beaven, a Navy veteran (yay!) who served on the USS Kincaid (DD-965) as a cryptologist during Operation Desert Storm, is running as a Democrat for Florida’s 6th district along the Atlantic coast, including Daytona Beach. She is the CEO of the Florida Endowment Foundation, a non-profit educational enrichment program, which helps 5,000 young Floridians finish school and learn job skills. Beaven has a master’s degree in public administration. Her priorities are job creation and economic development.

— Tulsi Gabbard, is a captain and company commander with the Hawaii Army National Guard, and has deployed twice to the Middle East. She is the vice-president and co-founder of the environmental non-profit organization Healthy Hawaii Coalition, as well as a member of the Honolulu City Council. She is running as the Democratic candidate for the second district in Hawaii. She was the youngest person ever to be elected to the Hawaii state legislature (2004-2005) at age 21. She has also served on Senator Daniel Akaka’s staff as a legislative aide, responsible for veteran affairs, energy and natural resources, judiciary, and homeland security. A native of Hawaii, Tulsi is passionate about her service to Hawaii and is hoping to change the influence of special interests in Congress.

— Gail Parker, a retired Air Force reservist, is not new to politics, having held previous office for 12 years. She is currently running as an Independent for Virginia’s 1st district (including Jamestown and Fredericksburg). She served with the Air Force for 22 years. She has a master’s degree in business administration. Her platform is “Gail for Rail,” which focuses on increasing transportation options, especially rail, in Virginia, for safer roads and safer families.

— Wendy Rogers is running as the Republican candidate for district 9 in Arizona. Wendy was one of the first 100 female pilots in the Air Force (she served from 1976 to 1996), flying  C-141 cargo planes. She participated in the Bosnian airlift, helped command cadets at the Air Force Academy, served as a flight instructor, and logged over 3,000 hours in the air. After she retired from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel she moved to the Tempe area where she built a home-inspection business with her husband, raised her two children, and served the community as development director at Tempe Prep Academy. She has a pair of master’s degrees in social work and national security. Her primary concern is fiscal responsibility.

— Aryanna Strader, a radio communications operator/maintainer in the Army from 2001 to 2004, is running as a Democrat for the 16th district in Pennsylvania. She deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. She has a bachelor’s in business administration and is pursuing a master’s in the field as well. She and her Army-vet husband own their own business and live in Kennett Square, outside Philadelphia, with their two young children. Her top priority is the economy and job creation.

The other women I wrote about in March, Republican Heather Wilson, candidate for New Mexico’s Senate seat; Martha McSally, Republican candidate for Arizona’s 2nd district; Donna McAleer, Democratic candidate for Utah’s 1st district, and Tammy Duckworth, Democratic candidate for Illinois’ 8th district, have all advanced through the primaries and are gearing up for the fall campaign.

Heather Wilson and Tammy Duckworth have done this before, so they are pros, and their political machine is running full steam. Wilson’s basic platform is to turn the economy around and create jobs, restore fiscal responsibility, strengthen American culture, and maintain a strong national defense. Duckworth’s desire is that each American has the opportunity to achieve the American dream, by moving out of poverty as part of an economy that rewards hard work and responsibility.

Both Donna McAleer and Martha McSally are new to the political game, but their motivation and commitment will see them through the November election. McAleer’s motto is “Not Left. Not Right. Forward,” which means she wants to work with others in a bipartisan way to find common ground on key issues, like the economy and tax reform. McSally is for reducing the role of government in our lives, and one of her priorities is increasing jobs and job opportunities.

As a female vet myself, I wish I could vote for all of them.

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Sara Goodman
Sara Goodman

Here we go again with the 'paid volunteers' or even family members (as I suspect quarterpat is) of individuals running against the candidates above. It would be nice if they didn't lie or try to  make implications, that boarders on slander. 

Adams opponent's military service is not very onerous. He may have relatives that have, but he NEVER served in the military. And those that try to intimidate the public into thinking that there is something suspicious about Adams service should not be throwing stones, without showing us their service record first. 


Hellooooo!  I'm all for the candidates mentioned in the article.  But learn what they are about and vote for them because you agree with the policies and programs they espouse.  That being said, I am ready to see many more women in elected office.  It is  long past time that women got to be among the deciders.

Now - after your having misunderstood what I was saying -  I really resent your accusation that I am from an opposing candidate's camp.


"who has deployed twice to the Middle East ..." It reminds me of an Army pal who was enjoying a very good life with his family in Germany who used to say that he was "serving honorably overseas in this, a time of war..." [I have no idea what her service record is, but whenever I hear things like that I get suspicious]


While I think it is laudable that a number of women veterans are running for office it might still be important to check into the policies each articulates. For instance, if the last person mentioned is running on the little catch phrase of "reducing the role of government" - that is very ambiguous.

I would love to see the number of women in elected office at ALL levels increase to or even exceed parity with the population (that would be about 50%) - but I want to know more about these or any women (or men) who are running for office. What do they believe? What types of policies do they advocate? And for what they want to change or eliminate - what are their alternatives? I need more than just a simplistic laundry list of too much government. 

Steering a pluralistic republic in 2012 and beyond is a complicated and complex undertaking.  I am heartened that these women want to take their turn at the helm.


Of course these women stand for more than I indicated in this post;  If any of these are running in your state, you would of course want to compare the issues.  I just think it's great that so many women vets are running.


Absolutely - these women stand for more than one liners and it IS great that so many are running.  Perhaps they are part of a trend - elected offcials beginning to match more closely the people who are represented?


 Hear, hear! Look beyond gender into the policies they espouse. After all, Michele Bachmann is female.


Thanks for this summary, but a word of caution.  Women with military experience ought to be smart about national security issues and supportive of policies helpful to women, but from the list I suspect that's not always the case.  Candidates can use their military experience as a selling point but have no intention of doing what is necessary to take care of military personnel and veterans.  Buyer beware.

There's also something unusual about the military record of Sandy Adams.  It's not only that she left the Air Force within a year of enlisting.  It also was unusual for a woman in that era to qualify for enlistment as a high school dropout.  The educational standards for women could be higher because the slots available were few.

Former Air Force officer and author of "A More Perfect Military: How the Constitution Can Make Our Military Stronger"

Robyn Ryan
Robyn Ryan

 Wait a moment.

 Being 'in the military' is not  synonymous  with 'knowledge of national security'.

Each individual has a different experience, and I can promise, most E-3s are more interested in their specialties than with 'national security.'

The common denominator for these candidates is they have all been part of a minority that the US government targets for discrimination.

Females, officer and enlisted, are refused specific military jobs because they have a vagina.

By the government.   Who thinks they aren't worthy of full citizenship.  Who thinks they aren't 'real' military.  Who sent them into combat while pretending they weren't there.

If I can get my PTSD under control, I'd love to run for office.  I might anyway.  Great excuse for bouncing a chair off the face of a GOP birther.

Hi America!  Jynnie's coming marching home. 


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