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9 more veterans to serve in Congress

| Friday, Nov. 23, 2012, 6:24 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Tammy Duckworth awoke in the fall of 2004 in Walter Reed Army Medical Center with both of her legs missing. As the highest-ranking double amputee in the ward, Maj. Duckworth became the go-to person for soldiers complaining of substandard care.

Now she is one of nine veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who will serve in next year's freshman class in the House.

Veterans groups said the influx of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is welcome because it occurs as the overall number of vets in Congress is on a steep decline. In the mid-1970s, the majority of lawmakers were vets.

Duckworth is one of two freshman Democrats who served in Iraq or Afghanistan. The other is Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who served near Baghdad for a year.

Seven Republicans also served:

• Ron DeSantis of Florida was a judge advocate officer in the Navy who deployed to Iraq as a legal adviser during the 2007 troop surge.

• Brad Wenstrup of Ohio was a combat surgeon in Iraq.

• Kerry Bentivolio of Michigan served in an administrative capacity with an artillery unit in Iraq and retired after suffering a neck injury. He also served as an infantry rifleman in Vietnam.

• Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma was a combat pilot in Iraq and Afghanistan.

• Scott Perry of Pennsylvania commanded an aviation battalion in Iraq in 2009 and 2010.

• Doug Collins of Georgia was a chaplain in Iraq.

• Tom Cotton of Arkansas, a Harvard Law School graduate, was an infantry platoon leader in Iraq, then was on a reconstruction team in Afghanistan. In between, he was a platoon leader at Arlington National Cemetery.

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