Posted by: annemartinfletcher | March 25, 2012

More Military Women’s “Firsts” -VOTE for a VET

For the first time, SEVEN women veterans are running for congress. Darlene M Iskra in her article for Time Magazine’s Battleland Blog, missed Wendy Rogers, Tulsi Gabbard, and Aryanna Strader. See my update below.

Heather Wilson, the first woman veteran to serve in congress, is running for the U.S. Senate  in New Mexico. She graduated from the USAFA two years after I did, is a Rhodes Scholar, and was a protege of  Senator Pete Domenici (who appointed me to USAFA.) It’s been a long time since I lived in New Mexico, but everyone I know loved Wilson when she was a Representative. Wilson is running for the Senate as a Republican.

US Air Force Photo

Martha McSally, the first woman US Air Force pilot to fly A-10s, to fly in combat, and to serve as a commander of a fighter squadron, is running as a Republican for Democrat Gabrielle Gifford’s vacated US Representative seat in Arizona. McSally gained notoriety in 2001 for refusing to wear an abaya in Saudi Arabia, where she was flying combat sorties. She won her case.

Wendy Rogers is a Republican candidate for Arizona’s District 9 US Representative. After starting her career in as a civilian clinical social worker and then in Air Force health clinics, she became one of the first 100 women pilots in the Air Force. Like me, she flew C-141s and C-21s. She held leadership positions in Europe and deployed during the Bosnian crisis. I met her through the Women Military Aviators, where she helped lead our organization through a critical turning point. After retiring, she and her husband started a successful small business in Arizona that employs twelve people. Rogers is also a substitute teacher and actively involved in education in her district. Wendy combines the wonderful attributes of strong will with being an open-minded listener. I think her district will benefit from her leadership.

My favorite candidate for US Representative is Donna McAleer, an activist, author, speaker, West Point graduate and former Army officer who is running for Utah’s #1 District seat. Donna is a person of integrity who always acts before complaining. She served as Executive Director of the People’s Health Clinic, a non–profit organization based in Summit County, Utah. In this role she led a major turnaround for an organization committed to providing quality healthcare for the uninsured. Donna continued her leadership role in the Intermountain Division for the Professional Ski Instructors Association.  Rather than take credit herself, she prefers to illuminate the contributions of others, as she does in her book, Porcelain on Steel. McAleer is running as a Democrat. I wish I voted in Utah. My favorite photo of McAleer was taken when she competed for a spot on the 2002 US Olympic Bobsled Team.

The other woman veteran running for office is Tammy Duckworth, until recently an Assistant Secretary for Veterans Affairs. Duckworth’s “first” could have been tragic: she was one of the first Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopter pilots to survive being shot down by an RPG in Iraq in 2004. She lost both her legs and the use of an arm in the explosion. Duckworth used her amazing fortitude to become very abled, and to help other veteran amputees. She is running for the 8th Congressional District in Illinois as a Democrat. My personal concern is that the uncompromising attitude that has led to her success as an advocate for veterans will not be an asset to her district as a US Representative.

Aryanna Strader, a former Army Radio Operator who served in Iraq in 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom, is running for Representative from Pennsylvania’s 16th District. She also is a mother and small business owner. Her positions on issues, which I read on her website, make her sound like a fiscal conservative and social liberal, just like the Republican Party USED to be. Strader is running as a democrat.

Tulsi Gabbard gave up her seat in the Hawaii State Legislature in order to serve as a National Guardsman for two deployments to Iraq and the Middle East! She is also a small business owner and is serving on the Honolulu City Council. Tulsi has served Hawaii since the age of 19 in both charitable, political, and military capacities. She is running as a Democrat for Representative from Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District.

Three Republicans, four Democrats, three candidates I can whole-heartedly recommend, two I don’t know much about, and two races that I urge the voters to examine all candidates in their races before making a decision.

All seven candidates, however, restore my faith in women leaders and the US electoral process. Please read about all these candidates (their links are embedded in my descriptions of them) and then VOTE! What a wonderful way to endorse military service as a prerequisite for holding national office.


  1. I apologize for a BIG goof. An earlier version of this post referred to “late” Senator Pete Domenici. Sen. Domenici retired from the Senate after 2007 due to health concerns, but he is alive and continues to contribute to New Mexico. One way is through the annual NM State University Domenici Institute annual conference on Public Policy. My utmost apologies to the Domenici’s.

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