Run, Mama Run candidate and military veteran Aryanna Strader will be our special guest on this week’s MOMochat podcast.

Today is the holiday when we honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country.

We have been at war in the Middle East for over a decade. Yet, thanks to the technology of modern warfare, the end of the draft and multiple deployments, these wars have been fought by fewer than 1% of our population — which means the nation has been at war with very little shared sacrifice among us.

Few Americans truly understand how our troops and their families have been affected by the longest war in U.S. history. That’s something you cannot say about four of the women candidates we are tracking in our Run, Mama Run project: All are veterans of wars in Afghanistan or Iraq. And all bring that perspective to their campaigns.

Perhaps the best known of our Run, Mama Run heroes is Tammy Duckworth, the decorated, disabled Iraq War veteran who served under President Obama as Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

In 2004, Tammy was piloting a mission in Iraq when her Blackhawk helicopter was hit by a rocket propelled grenade. She lost both legs and part of the use of her right arm in the explosion, and was awarded the Purple Heart for her combat injuries.

While recovering at Walter Reed Army Hospital, Tammy became an advocate for her fellow soldiers. She testified before Congress and went on to create and implement programs to deal with PTSD in Illinois. She also continued to serve as a Major in the National Guard.

This is Tammy’s second run for Congress in Illinois District #8, which is comprised of the northern suburbs of Chicago. She was narrowly defeated in the Tea Party wave of 2010 by Joe Walsh, the infamous Republican who shouted “You Lie!” at the President during his State of the Union address. Walsh’s other claim to fame is as a deadbeat dad. He and his wife settled their child support dispute (over $100,000) earlier this year.

Walsh is one of CREDO Action’s Tea Party Ten, candidates the liberal superPAC has identified as too loony and dangerous to serve. He’s vulnerable, but it would be foolish to count out the determination of the corporate-funded vast right-wing conspiracy to hold on to every Congressional seat they currently own. Find out how to support Tammy Duckworth at her website.

Heather Beaven is running for Congress in Jacksonville, Florida’s District #6.

Military service is a family tradition: every generation of Heather’s family has served since the American Revolution. During the Clinton Administration, Heather was a a Navy cryptologist aboard the USS Kinkaid, a Spruance-class destroyer (she was one of the first 10 female sailors to sail on a combat-ready vessel).

Heather has a Masters degree in Public Administration. In 1997, she was appointed by Kansas Governor Bill Graves (a Republican) to the state’s Workforce Investment Act, Veteran Employment and Training Services.

Although she did not serve in the current Mideast conflict, Heather is not untouched by the ongoing Afghanistan conflict. Her husband, Douglas, is in the Army Reserves and is scheduled to be deployed this summer.

Heather Beaven faces a well-funded Republican incumbent in Representative Jack Mica. Mica is rated 0% by NARAL and 100% by the National Right to Life Committee. He has voted with the Republican block on just about every single issue: He was against the auto bailout, and voted no on the stimulus. He is a supporter of DOMA and against affirmative action. He supports school vouchers and privatization of public education.

Beaven and Mica have tussled before: In the 2010 election, Mica overwhelmed Beaven with 69% of the vote. Since then, the district has been redrawn — AND Mica is facing a challenger in the August 14 state primary, which may weaken his hold. However, funding is always an issue — especially for Democrats. And Governor Rick Scott’s efforts to cull the voting rolls may depress turnout from the constituency that usually votes Democratic. Visit Heather’s website for information on how to donate to or volunteer for her campaign.

Aryanna Strader is running for Congress in Pennsylvania District #16 in Lancaster, She’s taking one of the House’s most virulent anti-choice proponents, Representative Joe Pitts (one of the authors of the Stupak-Pitts amendment to the Affordable Care Act).

In November of 2001, just months after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Aryanna joined as a Radio Communications Operator/Maintainer and was off to Ft. Jackson, SC for her Basic Training. She would also later be stationed at Ft. Gordon, GA for her Advanced Individual Training (AIT) and then at Ft. Bliss, Texas where she was a member of the 18th Airborne Corps, 108th BDE ADA, HHB and Bravo 1/7 ADA.

In February 2003, Aryanna deployed to Jordan as a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom at a high level secret forward operation base where she guarded the ammo supply point and performed her duties encrypting radios, and ensuring her unit could communicate with the other units stationed nearby. In October of 2003, Aryanna was then moved to Bravo Battery in Ft. Bliss, TX. This is where she met her future husband, Dan Strader who was also serving in the U.S. Army as a Patriot missile operator maintainer. One year later in October of 2004, after receiving Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal Aryanna was honorably discharged and moved to Pennsylvania where her husband is from. She is a member of VFW Post 5467 in Kennett Square.

Since moving to Pennsylvania, Aryanna started a family and went back to school (earning a Bachelor’s degree and an MBA) while working full-time).

“I am passionate about running for Congress for many reasons, but we must stand up and fight against the likes of Congressman Joe Pitts who started this war on women’s health with the Stupak-Pitts Amendment in 2010 and the “Let Her Die” bill in 2011,” Aryanna says. She is going to need help in the fundraising department: so far, Pitts has outraised her 2 to 1.

Visit Aryanna’s campaign website.

Hawaii”s Tulsi Gabbard was serving in the state House of Representatives when her National Guard unit was deployed to Iraq. As a member of the state legislature, she did not have to join them — but she volunteered anyway, ultimately deploying there twice.

Between deployments, Tulsi went to Washington as an aide to Senator Daniel K. Akaka. This kind of dedication to service is not unusual for Tulsi, who has been active in grassroots organizing since launching Healthy Hawai‘i Coalition (HHC), a non-profit grassroots organization at the tender age of 19.  The HHC’s mission is to protect the environment and improve individual and community health.

Tulsi was elected to the Honolulu City Council in 2010.

Tulsi is running in a crowded Democratic primary against four candidates who include a former mayor of Honolulu. So far, there are no Republicans in the race.