"There are a lot that are actively pursuing political office, and more this year than last time, and that's because there are more veterans," says Jon Soltz, head of Vote Vets, a political action committee that supports Democratic candidates who are Iraq vets. They also want the United States to get out of Iraq and turn the military mission toward Afghanistan, he says.
"This isn't the people 40 years ago who came to Washington to protest. These are people who want to come to D.C. so we can take the fight to (Osama) bin Laden."
There are currently 35 combat veterans in Congress, down from 41 in 2001, according to figures from the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA). Only Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Pa., served in Iraq.
Overall, the number of veterans in Congress has declined sharply since its peak in 1977, when more than three-quarters of Congress had served in the military. Now only 24% have, MOAA figures show.
In 2006, about a dozen Iraq veterans ran for office, almost all of them Democrats. Murphy, the only successful candidate in 2006, faces a challenge this year from Republican Tom Manion, a Marine veteran whose son Travis was killed by sniper fire in Iraq last year.