However, veteran representation in Congress still pales in comparison to what it was in the pre-9-11 era. Just 17% of current members in both the House and Senate served in the military, which is down from highs of 75% in the House in 1967 and 81% in the Senate in 1975.
But with nearly 200 veterans running for Congress this fall, that trend could start to change.
Two veterans, Republican Rep. Jack Bergman and Democratic House candidate Dr. Kermit Jones, joined “Morning in America” to discuss the increase in veterans as congressional candidates.
Bergman, who is running for reelection in Michigan and has served more than 40 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, said he believes the decline in veterans in Congress stems from the decreased need for military service.
The Pew Research Center analysis says that just 36% of Americans who identify as Democrats, or say they lean Democratic, say they like political leaders with military experience.
Jones, a U.S. Navy veteran who is running for the U.S. House in California, believes that people are looking for leaders who are willing to put their differences aside and get the job done, which military veterans, both candidates say, have track records of doing during service.
“People in my district are devastated by the cost of inflation, the wildfires in particular, and I think veterans have this sense of just putting the mission first, putting our differences aside and getting the job done. And here, getting the job done really is making sure that we keep our community safe, that we tackle these big problems together,” Jones said. “I think that’s what a lot of people are looking for.”
Bergman seconded this idea, saying that veterans have an understanding that life isn’t about them, but rather about the mission: serving the country.
Jones thinks the biggest thing that could be done is to encourage veterans to “put their hat in the ring.” He said that veterans who have a record of service know what it looks like when a country goes through a civil war.
“You know, we put our differences aside, it doesn’t matter whether someone’s a Democrat or Republican. So I think there are a lot of veterans out there that are looking for that next mission. They’re looking for that next thing that they can devote themselves to,” Jones said.