CONGRESS//15TH DISTRICT | Veterans have had enough of the battlefield, but the race for Rep. Eric Swalwell’s seat in Congress is increasingly leaning toward becoming another type of battleground, one in which each candidate vies for who can do more for those returning from the armed services, past and present.

Two weeks ago, Swalwell held a town hall with dozens of veterans in Hayward to highlight the extensive backlog of benefit request. Depsite the clear need to address the county’s backlog of services to veterans, Swalwell, nevertheless, has often wrapped himself in the flag in the past.

Over the past year and during his run for congress, Swalwell routinely speaks to veterans groups and takes every opportunity to pose for photos. Armed services abroad and strong support for local law enforcement generally plays well, but it flourishes in the more moderate Tri Valley and that makes it a clear advantage for Swalwell.

During the Urban Shield paramilitary exercises held two weeks ago in Alameda County, Swalwell took a point to post successive photos of him touring a local law enforcement facility. In one shot he donned the baseball cap of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and another featured Alameda County Sheriffs Department.

Swalwell embracing a vet last week.

In recent weeks, though, State Sen. Ellen Corbett has been doing her own 10-hut while firing volleys back at Swalwell’s attention to veterans. She, too, has appeared at various events for vets and posted her own gallery of photos hobnobbing with members of the armed services on social media.

The move suggests Corbett believes she can encroach on Swalwell’s base of veterans or limit it from growing. Either way, it’s a signal the race in the 15th Congressional District will again resides in the Tri Valley and not the more liberal Hayward area. In contrast, Swalwell’s first moves last month raised the alarm on Pete Stark attempting to influence the 2014 election with contributing to Corbett’s campaign. To some this indicates Swalwell is willing to somewhat alienate Hayward voters who strongly supported Stark last year and would likely support Corbett next year, by blowing a dog whistle that clearly agitates Tri Valley voters who still loath Stark.

In the meantime, with the end of the year around the corner, what does a challenger do to chisel away at the incumbent’s strength? How about obscure “Legislator of the Year” awards? On Thursday, Corbett announced the California Association of County Veterans Service Officers (CACVSO) bestowed her such a title for work for veterans, including a bill signed into law this year stopping groups from using services logos and emblems on products without authorization.

“I look forward to continuing to work with the CACVSO in the months and years ahead to ensure that our veterans and service members receive all of the benefits that they are due following their patriotic service to our country,” said Corbett in statement.

Not only are there benefits to do had for veterans, but also for congressional candidates