By Debbie Gregory.
The recent election has proven that Americans are recognizing the leadership capabilities gleaned through military service. At least 27 post-9/11 veterans won congressional races in the November 8th election. This is in addition to the current Congress, which includes 26 veterans. At least 18 veteran incumbents won reelection
And in one of the most closely contested races, Eric Greitens, a decorated former Navy SEAL who served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, won his election for governor of Missouri as a Republican against Democrat Chris Koster, the former State attorney general.
The election underscored a growing trend of veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan parlaying their military leadership skills in bids for national elected office. More than 30 veterans of the two wars ran for House Seats they had not held before.
Greitens has a distinguished resume as a former Rhodes Scholar and White House Fellow who is also the founder of The Mission Continues.
Illinois Democrat Tammy Duckworth, who served honorably as an Army officer in Iraq, made a successful bid for a Senate seat.
Duckworth, the daughter of an Army veteran, is a former helicopter pilot who lost both legs in Iraq. She will be the second female Iraq veteran in the Senate, joining Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican of Iowa.
Brian Mast, a medically retired Army explosive ordnance disposal specialist, lost both legs to an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. Staff Sgt.Mast first considered running for an elected office while recovering in a hospital bed at Walter Reed. He earned his bachelor’s degree after he was wounded, taking classes at Harvard University. Mast won the Florida seat left open by Rep. Patrick Murphy.
Other veterans heading to Congress for the first time include Republican Scott Taylor, a another former Navy SEAL and veteran of the Iraq War who will fill the Virginia Beach seat left open by retiring Rep. Scott Rigell, and Democrat Jimmy Panetta, a Navy veteran of Afghanistan who is the son of former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and defeated Republican Casey Lucius in California.
Anthony Brown, a Democrat from Maryland who formerly served as lieutenant governor, and who served a tour in Iraq as an Army judge advocate, won a House seat vacated by Rep. Donna Edwards in a landslide. Republican Jim Banks, a former Navy officer who served in Afghanistan, and Republican Mike Gallagher, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq, won seats in Indiana and Wisconsin, respectively.