The 116th Congress includes 96 total veterans. Seven of them are women — and they're 7 women we think you should know about.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D - Il.)
Sen. Duckworth is an Iraq War veteran, Purple Heart recipient, former Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, the first senator to have a baby while in office, and a total badass.
Duckworth served in the Reserves for 23 years before retiring in 2014 at the rank of Lt. Col. During a deployment to Iraq as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot, Duckworth's helicopter was hit by an RPG — she lost her legs and partial use of her right arm. This did nothing to slow her down. She was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016. Duckworth holds degrees from the University of Hawaii and George Washington University. She's also fluent in Thai and Indonesian.
Chrissy Houlahan (D - Pa.)
Houlahan was sworn in this year as a freshman in the 116th Congress — but she accomplished some pretty impressive things before that.
Houlahan is a Standford ROTC grad, served in the Air Force, earned an M.S. in technology from MIT, was the COO for AND1 Basketball, taught public school in North Philadelphia, and was the founding COO of the non-profit B-Lab.
Houlahan told POLITICO that she and the other former servicewomen in this freshman class refer to themselves as "the badasses."
“I think that veterans—and women in particular—have a heritage of team-building, collaboration and pragmatism that I think is really needed right now when we’re a very, very divided nation. I’m hopeful that we’ll bring a fresh set of legs into what is kind of a dysfunctional environment," Houlahan told POLITICO.
Sen. Joni Ernst (R - Iowa)
After receiving her undergraduate degree from Iowa State University, Ernst joined the U.S. Army Reserves. She served as a company commander in Kuwait and Iraq, leading 150 Iowa Army National Guardsmen during Operation Iraqi Freedom. She retired as a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard after 23 years of military service.
Ernst went on to become the first woman to serve in federal elected office from Iowa before becoming the first female combat veteran elected to serve in the United States Senate.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D - Hawaii)
Gabbard was serving with the Hawaii State Legislature and the Army National Guard when she volunteered to deploy with fellow soldiers in 2004 — she was the first state official to voluntarily step down from public office to serve in a war zone.
Gabbard served two tours of duty in the Middle East and continues to serve as a Major in the Army National Guard.
She recently announced her candidacy for the 2020 presidential election.
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Mikie Sherrill (D - N.J.)
Sherrill is a Naval Academy graduate, helicopter pilot, and federal prosecutor. She holds a Bachelor's degree from the Naval Academy, a Master's degree in Global History from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a Law Degree from Georgetown University.
She joins two other freshman female veterans in the 116th Congress.
Elaine Luria (D - Va.)
Luria joined the Navy at 17 and served for 20 years as a Surface Warfare Officer and nuclear engineer. She deployed six times conducting operations in the Middle East and Western Pacific on destroyers, cruisers, and aircraft carriers.
“The military is very nonpartisan. I never turned to the sailor next to me and said, ‘Are you a Democrat or a Republican?’ Everyone comes together to accomplish a mission, so that inherent willingness to work with and listen to everyone is something that we bring to this position," Luria told POLITICO.
Sen. Martha McSally (R - Ariz.)
Currently the driving force behind a push for revamping the military's system for handling sexual assault and harassment allegations, McSally served in the Air Force for 26 years. She retired in 2010 as a colonel after deploying six times to the Middle East and Afghanistan, flying 325 combat hours, and earning a Bronze Star and six air medals. She was the first woman in U.S. history to fly a fighter jet in combat and the first woman to command a fighter squadron.