Record number of Iraq, Afghanistan veterans head to Congress

A record 16 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan were elected to Congress on Tuesday night and two more veterans remained locked in races Wednesday that were too close to call.

The victories are the largest single wave of former service members heading to Congress since the 1980s, according to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).

They represent “a huge step forward for the new veterans movement and a huge step forward for America,” Paul Rieckhoff, founder and chief executive officer of of IAVA, told NBC News.

“What we’ve seen from this community is an extraordinary focus on country as well as some pragmatic solutions. We believe these folks can work together across party lines and be a shot in the arm in Washington — exactly what America needs right now,” said Rieckhoff, who served as a first lieutenant and infantry rifle platoon leader in Iraq during 2003 and 2004.

Read more from NBC News about the veterans elected Tuesday,  including nine first-time officeholders and seven incumbents.






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