Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstDemocrat Mike Franken launches challenge to Grassley in Iowa Trump heads to Iowa as 2024 chatter grows Photos of the Week: Manchin, California oil spill and a podium dog MORE (R-Iowa), the first female combat veteran in the upper chamber, has retired from the military after 23 years.
“Today is my first day as a full-fledged civilian," Ernst told Iowa reporters Tuesday, according to The Des Moines Register.
Ernst, who officially ended her service in the Iowa Army National Guard on Monday, had announced her intention to retire from the military earlier this year. She has said it was difficult to balance her duties in the Senate with her duties to the military.
“Obviously, serving as a United States senator, it does take a lot of time, a lot of energy,” she said Tuesday, according to the Register. “And of course I would love to spend more time with my family, as well."
In 2003, Ernst ran convoys in the Iraq War. Prior to being elected to the Senate, she commanded the largest battalion in the Iowa Army National Guard.
Her service was a key part of her Senate campaign, during which she made waves by saying she had been sexually harassed during her time in the military.
“This was very much a part of my life,” she said Tuesday, “and it is very difficult for me to step away because of the great people I had the opportunity to work with.”