At 31 years of age Hertel was elected as a Congressman by citizens in Michigan for six terms. On the House Armed Services Committee for 12 years he was Chairman of the Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee. Earlier he was Chairman of the Oceanography, Great Lakes and Outer Continental Shelf for 6 years
Hertel also is a Distinguished Professor at the United States National Defense University Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, educating state and defense personnel from 28 nations about the U.S. Congress. Also giving talks and lectures to foreign government groups and universities throughout North America, Middle East ,Asia and Europe.
Hertel serves on the boards of the Congressional Hunger Center, the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust and the Former Members of Congress Association. He has served as Vice-President of the National Environmental Policy Institute. He received a J.D. from Wayne State University Law School, and graduated from Eastern Michigan University.