Senator Joni Ernst. (file photo)

Republican Senator Joni Ernst, a combat veteran, says one of her top legislative accomplishments this past year was a collaboration with one of the Senate’s most liberal Democrats.

“That measure in the National Defense Authorization Act to raise awareness and to treat traumatic brain injury, that was done with my colleague Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts,” Ernst says.

The legislation directs the military to take steps to track, treat and prevent brain injuries among soldiers. The Pentagon is now required to include information about recognizing brain injuries in its regular training sessions for soldiers.

“That’s one that was very important to me and we were able to see that through to fruition,” Ernst says.

Ernst has collaborated with other Democratic senators on military matters. In 2015, for example, Ernst and California Democrat Barbara Boxer sponsored legislation signed by President Obama that allowed female pilots from World War II to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. In 2019, Ernst will for the first time be serving in a politically-divided legislative branch.

“It can be painted as very difficult and in some circumstances it will be difficult having a divided congress with Democrats taking majority in the House of Representatives,” Ernst says, “but, at the same time, there is still opportunity and a lot of the work that I do here in the United States Senate is done in a bipartisan manner.”

In August, Ernst and a Democratic senator from Delaware cosponsored legislation designed to help military veterans get college credit for their military training.