The Future is Female Veterans
Red or blue, a record number of women are running for seats in the House in 2018 - a 90% increase since 2016. According to FiveThirtyEight, 350 Democratic women and 118 Republican women have filed to run for the House. The clear winner here is...women.
And a record number of those women are veterans.
This week we met five awe-inspiring women vets running for Congress at the "Badass Women's Tour". Full disclosure, all five are Democrats.
Fighting for their country seems to be baked into these patriots who have dedicated their lives to serving as a Navy helicopter pilot, an Air Force intelligence officer, a CIA analyst, a Marine captain and a U.S. Air Force Captain in the areas of national security, veterans issues and foreign affairs.
But beyond the impressive credentials, these women appear to have a real understanding of domestic issues as daughters of single moms, mothers of service members, mothers of LGBTQ children and often as the only women in a room of men deciding women’s issues.
"It's the year of the woman, but it's also the year of yearning for bringing integrity and honor back to politics," former Marine Corps officer and Massachusetts congressman Seth Moulton said in a Christian Science Monitor article. " I do think that veterans fundamentally understand what it means to put the country first in front of personal politics.”
Chrissy Houlahan, 51, is a third-generation military member, a former Captain in the US Air Force, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor and mother of an LGBTQ child. She’s running in the 6th district of Pennsylvania, a state that has no women in Congress. She earned her engineering degree from Stanford with an ROTC scholarship and her MS in Technology and Policy from MIT.
"I never thought I would run for elected office, but service does not stop when you leave the Armed Forces."
Mikie Sherill, 46, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, spent 10 years on active duty as a Navy helicopter pilot flying missions in the Middle East and Europe. In her last tour she served as a Russian Policy Officer. She left the Navy in 2003, went to law school at Georgetown University, and eventually joined the U.S.. Attorney General’s office in New Jersey.
Says Mikie, “In the Navy the worst thing you can do is run a ship aground. Too many people in Congress are putting their self-interest above country while watching it run aground.”
Gina Ortiz Jones, 38, is running for the House seat in Texas’ 23rd district. She took the stage saying, “There’s a special place in heaven for single mothers.” Gina grew up in subsidized housing and was raised by a single Filipina mother who emigrated to the U.S. as a domestic helper in order to provide for her daughters, despite a degree from the number one university in the Philippines. Gina won an Air Force ROTC scholarship to Boston University where she earned a BA and an MA in economics. Later she deployed to Iraq under “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and eventually ended up in the Executive Office of the President working on National Security.
" 'Liberal' isn't a word that is normally used to describe my work in national security," she said in an interview.
Elissa Slotkin, 41, is running in Michigan’s 8th District. Until January 2017, she oversaw policy at the Pentagon on Russia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa as Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense. She served three tours of duty in Iraq as a CIA analyst.
“It was very important to me that I was working for whomever was our Commander in Chief, I was working for Republicans and Democrats. I was there for the last day of the Bush administration and the first day of the Obama administration. I worked proudly for both sides for 14 years in national security, did three tours in Iraq and no one ever once asked me if I was a Democrat or a Republican. It didn’t matter. We were focused on a mission - protecting U.S. forces and the U.S. Homeland. And putting country over politics.”
Maura Sullivan, 38, is running for the House seat in New Hampshire’s 1st district. Although her family could not afford to send her to college, through an ROTC scholarship, Maura attended Northwestern University before becoming a Marine Captain. She spent two years in Japan before deploying to Fallujah in Iraq.
After returning home, she earned her graduate degrees in Economics and Public Policy at Harvard.
Maura was commissioned 17 years ago to work at the VA and the Pentagon to focus on military families. Many times she was the only woman in the room when the U.S. Department of Defense was making decisions about maternity leave and child care.
“I’m hopeful because there are a lot of amazing women running. There’s a lot of other things we could be doing but we chose to be here. In the Marines, you don’t do anything alone. It’s about what we can do together.”
We couldn't agree more.
Check out the bi-partisan podcast shesrunningpod.com featuring interviews with women who are running for office. And on November 6, please vote!