Sisters in Service

Melissa Sullivan | Nov 11, 2021


As we celebrate the men and women who have bravely donned our country’s uniform this Veteran’s Day, fewer veterans are serving in Congress today than at any point in our nation’s history. At the same time, hyper partisanship, disinformation, and a lack of confidence in politicians and public institutions have eroded our faith in democracy. Civic participation has declined and voter apathy has increased.

In the early 1970s, three out of four members of Congress had military experience. Supporting more veteran lawmakers could benefit our country, bringing problem-solving pragmatists who put country over party to tackle society’s most pressing issues to Congress.

While veterans are not well represented in Congress on the whole, the number of female veterans currently in the legislative branch is even more limited. Four female veterans serve in the House, and only two female veterans are in the Senate.

Despite their minimal showing, each female veteran lawmaker boasts an impressive service record.


Learn more about these sisters in arms:

Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (D, NJ-11)

A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Congresswoman Sherrill served ten years on active duty as a helicopter pilot. After leaving the Navy, Sherrill earned a law degree from Georgetown University and became an Assistant U.S. Attorney in New Jersey. Sherrill sits on the House Armed Services Committee, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, and the House Education and Labor Committee.


Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan (D, PA-06)

Congresswoman Houlahan earned her Air Force commission as an ROTC cadet at Stanford University, where she studied engineering. Houlahan later received an M.S. in Technology and Policy from The Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition to her military service, Houlahan was a Teach for America educator in North Philadelphia. Houlahan sits on the House Armed Services Committee, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the House Small Business Committee.


Congresswoman Elaine Luria (D, VA-02)

Like Congresswoman Sherrill, Congresswoman Luria is also a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. Luria served two decades on active duty. She spent the majority of her time on combatant ships as a nuclear-trained Surface Warfare Officer. Luria is the Vice-Chair of the House Armed Services Committee. Additionally, Luria sits on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and the House Committee on Homeland Security.


Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02)

Congresswoman Miller-Meeks enlisted in the Army at 18. A personal tragedy inspired her to serve as a military doctor. As a child, Miller-Meeks sustained severe burns in a fire. While recovering, she was touched by the compassionate care she received and decided to dedicate her life to assisting others. Over her 24-year Army career, Miller-Meeks served as a nurse, a doctor, and an ophthalmologist. Before she was elected to Congress, Miller-Meeks was a state Senator and the Director of the Iowa Department of Public Health. Miller-Meeks sits on the Education and Labor Committee, the Homeland Security Committee, the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.


Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)

The only female veteran of color, Senator Duckworth served in the Army Reserve Forces for 23 years as a helicopter pilot. While flying a combat mission in Iraq in 2004, a rocket-propelled grenade hit Duckworth’s aircraft. Duckworth lost both of her legs and the use of her right arm. Duckworth received a Purple Heart and became an advocate for her fellow wounded warriors, serving as the Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs and as an Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs before being elected to Congress. Duckworth sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Environment and Public Works Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee.


Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA)

Senator Ernst earned her Army Commission as an ROTC cadet at the University of Iowa. After serving 23 years in the military, Ernst became the first woman elected to federal office from Iowa. Ernst sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee.



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