Three veterans elected to Senate

Three military veterans were elected to the Senate on Wednesday, reversing a 32-year decline in numbers, according to Veterans Campaign, a nonpartisan group that seeks to prepare veterans for public office. 

Army National Guard Lt. Col. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstSenators call for probe into US Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics after abuse scandal Senate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA Dems go on the attack during EPA chief's hearing MORE became the first female military veteran to join the Senate after she defeated Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) in the race for retiring Sen. Tom Harkin's seat. 

Army veteran Rep. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonThis week: Trump delivers State of the Union amid immigration fight Ingraham: White House yanked immigration plan defense from show After shutdown surrender, why should progressives ever trust Chuck Schumer again? MORE (R-Ark.) defeated Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), making Cotton one of two Iraq War veterans to join the Senate, along with Ernst. 

Rep. Gary PetersGary Charles PetersSenate moderates see influence grow after shutdown fight Democrats mull keeping Senate in session overnight Congress looks for way out of government shutdown MORE, a retired Navy lieutenant commander, beat Republican Terri Lynn Land for a Michigan Senate seat, while Marine Lt. Col. Dan Sullivan appears poised to beat Sen. Mark Begich (D) in Alaska.  

Together, they would bring the total number of military veterans in the Senate to 21.

In the House, between 11 and 14 veterans are poised to join the lower chamber, bringing the total to between 81 and 84 veterans. Twelve veterans were elected to the House in 2012.

“Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans are becoming increasingly influential on Capitol Hill, representing more than half the new Vets elected, several of them having triumphed in long-shot primaries,” Seth Lynn, Veteran Campaign's executive director, said in a statement. 

"As it currently stands, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans will account for one quarter of the Senate’s 2014 freshman class," he said. 

He also added that female veterans were becoming a major force in politics, with Ernst's win, and the potential win for Martha McSally (R), a former A-10 fighter jet pilot who is tied with Arizona incumbent Rep. Ron Barbour (D).  

Just two incumbent veterans lost Tuesday. Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La.), who has been in Congress for less than a year; and Rep. William Enyart (R-Ill.), who was defeated by fellow Veteran Mike Bost.