Few people are more affected by the activities in Congress than soldiers and veterans. Their deployments and benefits are often directly tied to what gets through the legislature, so it should come as no surprise that many servicemembers turn to a career in politics to serve as a voice to other troops. Earlier this year, when all the new members of the House of Representatives were sworn in, nine of the new faces included veterans of the country’s most recent wars, reports Stars and Stripes.
Illinois’ Tammy Duckworth
Duckworth earned a fair amount of attention during the campaign not only because she served in the Iraq War, but also because she was seriously injured when she was involved in a helicopter crash. She lost both her legs and suffered significant damage to her right arm. Despite her injuries, she returned to active duty a little more than a year later. Aside from her inspirational story, Duckworth also brings a new perspective to a divided Congress.
“It’s about your constituents and the rest of the nation you serve,” she told the publication. “And we are not all going to get what we want, and not going to like the outcome 100 percent.”
Rep. Brad Wenstrup from Ohio
Wenstrup has been in the Army Reserve Medical Corps since 1998 and served as a combat surgeon in Iraq. Given his close professional relationship with wounded troops, he knows firsthand the challenges they face. As a result, he has signaled that making sure troops get the care they need is one of his top priorities, and with assignments to the Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Committees, he is well situated to address those issues.
Pennsylvania’s Scott Perry
Perry is one of the most seasoned veterans to get elected to Congress in 2012. He has served in the Army National Guard since 1980, according to Stars and Stripes, a period which includes a 2009 deployment to Iraq. He has pointed to avoiding sequestration, which could have serious ramifications on the military, as his chief concern.
Troops still need more representation
Veterans have long been staples of Congress, with well-respected lawmakers such as John McCain and John Kerry having served. However, their numbers have slipped as of late. This year, around 19 percent of the 535 members of Congress have spent time in the military. In 1977, that figure stood at about 80 percent, according to USA Today.