“With Honor” Supports Next-Gen Veteran Candidates to Fix Ailing Congress

Congressional candidate Gina Ortiz Jones leads the March to Protect American Democracy in September 2017.

Can military veterans help bring our nation’s legislators and politicians together? That’s exactly what a new cross-partisan group, With Honor, believes. With Honor will endorse more than 25 next-gen military veterans in their campaigns for Congress. The goal: end party gridlock by bringing both sides together to work for the common good.

According to With Honor, veterans represented more than half of Congress for much of the second half of the 20th Century. Today, veteran representation in Congress is near a historic low at 19 percent.

“Veterans took an oath to support and defend the Constitution,” said John Mahony, Marine Infantry Officer veteran and COO of With Honor. “They know what it means to put the country's interests ahead of their own, and by placing mission accomplishment first, have often been leaders who have made a difference by working together to solve our nation's largest problems.”

As much as many Americans dislike money in politics, a campaign is expensive and a significant barrier for the average veteran that wants to run for Congress. With Honor provides campaign contributions to help veteran candidates even the playing field against wealthy career politicians.

This Filipina-American Veteran Quit Working For Trump to Run For Congress

Gina Ortiz Jones, (D) is a With Honor veteran endorsed candidate and is running for the 23rd district in Texas.

After her service in the Air Force as an intelligence officer in Iraq under George Bush, Jones, served under Barack Obama and then under Trump as director in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. But by June of 2017, she decided she couldn’t with good conscience, do it anymore. So she decided to run for Congress.

“As a veteran, I’ve served in other countries and know how to work as part of a unified team to complete a mission,” says Jones. “Veterans have the experience of putting country before self and regardless of race, ethnicity, orientation, and know how to work together for a common purpose.”

Jones has never run for office before, and if she wins, she would make history as the first openly lesbian, Iraq War veteran and first-generation Filipina-American to hold a U.S. House seat in United States. Her hometown district, Texas’ 23rd, has also never been represented by a woman.

Says Jones, “I think that veterans know that we can’t shoot our way out of some of our problems, and they see first-hand the consequences of short-sighted national security policies.”

It seems Jones isn’t alone in her quest -- she’s racking up a number of significant endorsements. In addition to With Honor, she’s picked up endorsements from major national groups including EMILY’s List, VoteVets and Victory Fund. Former Texas Democratic state senator and gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis endorsed her. And recently, Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father who gave a passionate speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, announced his support for her campaign.

Marine Judge Advocate Seeks to Unify Polarized Congress

Kenneth Sheets (R), a Marine Judge Advocate veteran, is also endorsed by With Honor and is running for office in the 5th Congressional district of Texas.

“We [veterans] are taught to adapt, overcome, and succeed where others have failed,” said Sheets. “Serving alongside more veterans, as opposed to professional politicians, will give me the opportunity to help deliver solutions that move our nation forward and tackle the priorities of the American people.”

Sheets has a record of high-level collaboration. In 2007, he deployed to Fallujah, with Second Reconnaissance Battalion as the Battalion Judge Advocate. While in Iraq, he was responsible for detainee operations, assisting recon teams with criminal and operational investigations, working with local Iraqis to resolve claims against the United States, and  ensuring compliance with the Law of Armed Conflict and the Rules of Engagement. Upon his return stateside he served as a regional judge advocate in the Marine Corps Reserve.

Veterans know what it’s like to serve a higher purpose and work together for a common mission. And often, the stakes are as high as they get—life or death. Sheets agrees.

Says Sheets, “Regardless of our backgrounds, we conduct our missions with utmost professionalism or people die. That level of danger will focus a person’s mind and steel their resolve to work together. I believe people who have put themselves at risk for our country better understand the idea of ‘United we stand, or divided we fall’ and would work to deliver solutions and stop the dysfunction in Congress.”

Veterans ‘Uniquely Trained’ to Serve

With Honor was formed on the premise that veterans just know how to get things done. Period. When your life and the lives of your brothers and sisters are on the line, your focus is laser-sharp. And with American confidence in Congress at an all-time low of 19 percent (according to a recent Gallup poll), more veterans in Congress might be just what the doctor ordered to fix an ailing Congress.

About With Honor:

With Honor is a cross-partisan organization. We help elect principled next-generation veterans in order to solve our biggest problems and fix a Congress that is dysfunctional. There are more than 150 next-generation veterans answering the call to serve again and running for Congress in 2018. These next-generation veterans face significant obstacles to running since the cost of a campaign can be prohibitive for veterans without affluent networks. We will support a select group of veteran candidates who take The Pledge to put principles before politics and lead with civility, integrity, and courage, including the courage to meet with someone from another party once a month and sponsor legislation with another party once a year.

-- Sean Mclain Brown can be reached at sean.brown@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @seanmclainbrown.

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