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Record Number of Women Vets Ran for Office in 2018

In 2018, more women veterans ran for Congress than at any time in the history of the United States. Fourteen women service members were on the ballot for congressional races, hailing from around the country and representing each branch of the Armed Forces.

Among the candidates who won their races were:

  • Mikie Sherrill — A former Navy helicopter pilot who spent nearly 10 years on active duty, Mikie Sherrill was elected to represent New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District.
  • Elaine Luria — By electing Elaine Luria, Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District gained a former Navy commander with 20 years of military service.
  • Chrissy Houlahan — A former captain in the Air Force Reserve and a third-generation military veteran, Chrissy Houlahan will represent Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District.
  • Tulsi Gabbard — The only incumbent among the female veterans who ran for Congress, Tulsi Gabbard was reelected to represent Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District. Gabbard served in Iraq and Kuwait with the National Guard.

With their election victories, Representatives Sherrill, Luria and Houlahan helped bring the total number of women in the House of Representatives to 102, up significantly from the previous record of 85.

In addition, Amy McGrath (Marine Corps) of Kentucky, Martha McSally (Air Force) of Arizona, and Gina Ortiz Jones (Air Force) of Texas all came close to winning their races, conceding victory after losing by narrow margins. Other women veterans who led hard-fought campaigns were Wendy Rogers (Air Force) of Arizona, Aja Smith (Air Force Reserve) of California, Tobi Beck (Army) of Indiana, Tammy Savoie (Air Force) of Louisiana, Margaret Engebretson (Navy, Naval Reserve, and Minnesota Air National Guard) of Wisconsin, and Shirley McKellar (Army) and MJ Hegar (Air Force) of Texas.

It was not until 1985 that the first woman veteran was elected to the House of Representatives, and that happened nearly 70 years after Loretta Perfectus Walsh became the first official enlisted woman in the military. Male military veterans have been commonplace in Congress from its very first session, though the number of veterans serving in the legislative branch of government has declined significantly over the past few decades. But 2018’s elected class of congressional representatives includes more military veterans than at any previous time in nearly a decade. More than 75 veterans won their congressional races; 16 of them are first-time members of Congress.

The legal team at Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban is dedicated to advocating for veterans. We help former service members to appeal veterans benefits denials from the VA. If you are a veteran in search of qualified legal assistance, call us at 866-866-VETS or contact us online to arrange a free initial consultation. We serve veterans across the country.

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