(CBS Local)– This year has been unlike any other in many ways, and the major political implications at the national and local level make it even more interesting.
In addition to the presidential election, many Senators like Joni Ernst from Iowa are up for re-election. Senator Ernst, a Republican, has represented Iowa since 2015 and is the first female combat veteran to ever be elected to the United States Senate. The Iowa Senator wrote all about her journey, from growing up on a farm in Iowa, to serving the country on the battlefield and in the Senate in her new Simon & Schuster book “Daughter of the Heartland: My Ode To The Country That Raised Me.”
“I lived and was raised on a farm, and there were great folks that taught me the value of hard work,” said Senator Ernst in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “No job is beneath me, and nothing is beneath me. It really taught me a resiliency that lasted through my career in the military as well as my civilian life and on through personal challenges that I had and then taking me through the United States Senate. It is a story about recognizing that you can overcome challenges and go on to do great things in our lifetime.”
In her book, Senator Ernst shares stories about being considered as a candidate for Vice President when President Donald Trump was the Republican nominee in 2016, her ability to work across the aisle with people like Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand and her candid account of dealing with rape and domestic abuse in relationships with an ex-boyfriend and her ex-husband. Senator Ernst has long been an advocate for sexual assault victims and felt it was important to address her own experiences in the book.
“It was really hard, and those were stories that I hoped to never share with the public. I’ll be honest about that,” said Senator Ernst. “I believe that any survivor should have the opportunity when he or she comes forward. We shouldn’t force it from anyone, only they know when it is the right time to share their story. Through the course of my very public divorce, that information came out. I was put in a very tender position where I wasn’t personally ready to share that information. One, I didn’t want my family to experience the hurt that I had felt so many years ago. I know how friends go through this and I had shared my rape with friends many years ago. They were hurt because there was nothing they could’ve done for me. Sharing that information was very hard.”
Prior to her time in the United States Senate, Senator Ernst was a member of the Iowa National Guard and served for a year in Kuwait during the Iraq War. There are several parts of that experience that Senator Ernst will never forget.
“The thing that blew my mind initially of course was the fact that it was utter chaos trying to get into the country,” said Senator Ernst. “We were like lost children when we went into Kuwait. Eventually, all of that settled down, and we were able to run our missions into Iraq, and we mostly did runs deliveries around Kuwait. It was a very challenging time as a company commander. I had phenomenal soldiers, and they put their heart and soul into their work.”
“Daughter of the Heartland: My Ode To The Country That Raised Me” is available wherever books are sold.