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4th of July: a celebration and a reminder
4th of July is a day of celebration, but it’s also an important reminder of the service and sacrifice of those who have served in the armed forces. We’re here to remind you of all of the brave women who served and continued their careers of public service in Congress. Spoiler alert: they’re all incredible.
U.S. Representative Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA)
Freshman Rep. Chrissy Houlahan may be new to Congress but she arrived on the Hill packing a lot of experience. She’s a Stanford ROTC grad, served in the Air Force working on air and space defense technologies, earned a degree from MIT, taught public school, and served as founding COO of a nonprofit. Those are some seriously impressive credentials.
U.S. Representative Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ)
Another freshman House Rep., Mikie Sherrill traveled all over the world before coming to Congress. She served as a Naval helicopter pilot, flying on missions throughout Europe and the Middle East. She later earned degrees in Global History from the London School of Economics and Political Science and Law from Georgetown University. She has already made her mark in the House, serving as Freshman Whip for the New Democrat Coalition.
U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)
Senator Duckworth took office in 2017 and is a former U.S. Army lieutenant colonel. She is an Iraq War veteran and sustained injuries that caused her to lose both legs. Sen. Duckworth also accomplished a lot of “firsts” for women. She was the first female double amputee from the war and later became the first woman with a disability to be elected to Congress. She is also, famously, the first US Senator to give birth while in office. The Senate rules were changed shortly afterward so that a Senator has the right to bring a child under one year old onto the Senate floor and breastfeed them during votes. Her daughter, Maile, became the first baby on the Senate floor.
U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA)
Senator Joni Ernst also put a few cracks in the glass ceiling. When she was elected in 2015, she became the first woman to represent Iowa in the U.S. Congress. Before being elected, she served as a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard, making her the first female combat veteran elected to the U.S. Senate from any state.
U.S. Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ)
Before being appointed to fill Sen. John McCain’s seat in 2019, Senator McSally served in active combat in the U.S. Air Force. She was one of the highest-ranking female pilots in the history of the Air Force. Sen. McSally was also the first American woman to fly in combat following the 1991 lifting of the prohibition on female combat pilots.
U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)
Representative Gabbard was the youngest woman to be elected to U.S. state legislature at 21. She then took a leave of absence in politics to serve in a field medical unit of the Hawaii Army National Guard in a combat zone in Iraq from 2004 to 2005 and was then deployed to Kuwait from 2008 to 2009. She’s also currently a candidate for President!
U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-MI)
Like Congresswoman Spanberger, Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin began her government career in the CIA, serving as the leader of a CIA assessment team in Iraq. She then became a senior advisor on Iraq policy at the U.S. State Department and moved to the Department of Defense, where she eventually became acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. Slotkin is another one of the amazing freshmen women. When she won her election in 2018, it was the first time a Democrat won in her district since 2001.
U.S. Representative Elaine Luria (D-VA)
Congresswoman Luria’s military career is beyond awe-inspiring. She was the first American woman sailor to spend her entire career on combat ships. Luria served as an officer in the Navy for 20 years, operating nuclear reactors and reaching the rank of commander. She commanded a combat-ready unit of 400 sailors until her retirement in 2017. Who says serving in Congress isn’t a relaxing retirement job?