The Number of Young Veterans in Congress Is Rising

Posted in Uncategorized on May 29, 2018

Young veterans from conflicts in the Global War on Terrorism are increasingly turning their sites on the U.S. government, utilizing the determination, discipline and leadership skills they learned during their time in the service. While older members of government – more likely to have served time in the military – begin to retire, the new injection of veterans promises to bring new perspectives and fresh patriotism to Capitol Hill.The Number of Young Veterans in Congress Is Rising

Young Veterans in Congress

Over the last few years, more veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq were winning their local elections for local and national government roles, despite an overall decrease in the total number of veterans serving in government. The height of veteran membership in U.S. government topped out in 1971, when veterans comprised 72% of members in the House and 78% in the Senate.

In 2018, at the beginning of the 115th Congress, there were 102 members who had served or were serving in the military, representing 18.8% of the total membership. This represented one more than at the beginning of the 114th Congress (101 Members), but 6 fewer than at the beginning of the 113th Congress (108 Members).

Notable facts about the membership (as of May 2018) included:

  • 78 veterans were serving in the House of Representatives and the Senate had 18 veterans
  • These veterans served in the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War and combat or peacekeeping missions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo, as well as during times of peace
  • Eight House Members and one Senator were still serving in the reserves and six House Members were still serving in the National Guard
  • All of the female veterans (three in the House and two in the senate) were combat veterans

According to historic data, the number of veterans in the 115th Congress reflects the trend of steady decline in recent decades in the number of members who have served in the military. However, it’s important to note what percentage of the general public itself are veterans. For example, in the 1940s – during the height of World War II – nearly 9% of Americans were serving in the military. During the Vietnam War, Gulf War, Iraq War and War in Afghanistan, however, less than 2% of the U.S. population served in the armed forces.

So the fact that veterans represent only 2% of the U.S. population, but makeup almost 20% of Congress is evidence that veterans are more likely to continue their service to the country as elected lawmakers.

Many of these younger veterans are combat veterans and many are wounded warriors, having adapted to live after losing one or two limbs. Undoubtedly, the characteristics that make veterans excellent employees post-service will help them make a positive impact in their new roles as elected officials.

The House Committee on Veterans Affairs’ maintains a list of all veterans currently serving in Congress, including their home state and party.

Written by Megan Hammons

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