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.