Female Vets Take the Hill

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Scott Eells / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tulsi Gabbard, a female National Guard veteran from Hawaii, won election to Congress on Tuesday.

Well, the election is over, and we do have new female vets in Congress!

Congratulations to:

Lieutenant Colonel Tammy Duckworth (Army National Guard) for her decisive win over incumbent GOP Rep. Joe Walsh for the Illinois’ 8th District. Duckworth was the Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and director of Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, in the first years of the Obama Administration. She was serving in Iraq as a helicopter pilot when she was shot down and severely wounded in 2004.

Captain Tulsi Gabbard (Army National Guard) had a landslide victory over her opponent (81-19) for Hawaii’s 2nd District. Gabbard was a member of Honolulu City Council, and in 2002 was Hawaii’s youngest state rep. She enlisted in the Hawaii Army National Guard in 2003, and resigned from the State House in 2004 to deploy with her unit to Iraq. In 2006 she returned to serve as a legislative aide for Senator Daniel K. Akaka. She graduated from Officer Candidate School in Mar 2007, commissioned as a military police 2nd lieutenant, and deployed with her unit to the Middle East in 2008.

Too close to call:

Colonel Martha McSally, Air Force (ret.), seeking the Republican seat for Arizona’s 2nd District. Her opponent, Rep. Ron Barber, is trying to hold the seat he won to replace his former boss, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in a June special election. But McSally has been hot on his heels, and had a slight lead at last report. They are in a very close race and hoping to know results within the next day or two.


Heather Wilson, a 1982 graduate of the Air Force Academy, former congresswoman from New Mexico, and only female veteran running for a Senate seat in New Mexico, lost to Marin Heinrich, 51-45.

Donna McAleer, a 1987 graduate of West Point, seeking Utah’s 1st District seat, lost — but has not given up hope. In an email to her supporters she wrote, “This may not be our time – and taking down entrenched politicians is never an easy task (just look at the results nationally) – but this campaign has proven that Utah has an appetite for an independent leader who will put Utah first. And trust me – this is not the last you’ve heard from me…. Thanks to all of you – and until next time, let’s keep fighting for a better Utah–Not left, not right, forward!”

Heather Beaven, former Navy cryptologist who served on the destroyer USS Kincaid during Operation Desert Storm, lost 57-43 in the race for Florida’s 6th District.

Aryanna Strader, a radio communications operator/maintainer in the Army from 2001 to 2004, lost her bid as the Democrat for the 16th District in Pennsylvania to Joseph Pitts, 55-39.

Gail Parker, a 22-year retired Air Force reservist, lost an Independent (Green Party) in Virginia’s 1st District.

Lost in the primaries:
Sandy Adams lost her seat as Tea Party Republican congresswoman for Florida’s 24th District. Her opponent, John Mica, handily won in a redrawn 7th District. Adams had been an aircraft electrician in the Air Force, 1975-75.

Wendy Rogers, as the Republican candidate for Arizona’s 9th District. Wendy was one of the first 100 female pilots in the Air Force (she served from 1976 to 1996),  flying C-141 cargo planes.

For the big picture, a record 20 women will serve in the Senate. Re-elected were Senators Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who won handily after Republican challenger Rep. Todd Akin tried to argue that women’s bodies can shut down pregnancy when they become victims of forcible rape.

Newly elected were Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., (who will be the first openly gay woman to serve in those hallowed halls), Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Heidie Heitkamp, D-N.D.

Continuing to serve are Senators Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Mary Landrieu, D-La., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Kelly Ayotte, D-N.H., Kay Hagen, D-N.C., Kirsten Gillbrand, D-N.Y. and Patty Murray, D-Wash.

It is exciting to see new military women taking the lead, and new women Senators making history as well. I wish those who lost fair winds and following seas.

I’d like to thank my friend Pat Jernigan for providing me with this update.