As veterans and members of the military, knowing that those who represent you in the government are also a veteran is reassuring. When you hear that your members of Congress have served in the military, you feel that they will better understand what you and your family are going through, what your needs are, and what would benefit the veteran and military community as a whole.
In the November 2018 midterm elections, there were 435 House seats and 35 Senate seats up for grabs. Over 200 veterans ran for office in the 2018 Midterm elections, with 18 veterans winning their first term in the House of Representatives and one in the Senate.
Percentage of Veterans in Congress
If you look at the United States as a whole, the amount of veterans has dropped. According to the Census Bureau, 7% of Americans were veterans in 2016, compared to 18% in 1980. According to the Pew Research Center, Gulf War veterans have passed the amount of Vietnam era veterans. As of 2016, there were 6.8 million Vietnam veterans and 7.1 million Gulf War veterans. Those who are considered Gulf War veterans are those who have served from 1990 to present times, and there is some overlap between the two.
The draft ended in 1973, and since then the US military has been an all volunteer military force. While having served is important and beneficial when it comes to issues all veterans face, it is also encouraging that we’ve seen an increase in Post-9/11 veterans to possibly help address the specific issues and concerns faced by these younger generations of veterans.
Gradual But Steady Increase in Veteran Representation
Going back to the House of Representatives, there will be 18 new members of the House who have served in the US military. This is up from 14 in 2016 and 12 in 2014 and 2012. Those in the military and veteran community see this as a big deal, and are hoping for more veterans to run for Congress and win in the future.
As far as the Senate goes, there is one non-incumbent veteran who won, Rick Scott in Florida who is a Republican. There will be about 19 veterans serving in the Senate in 2019
Of those 19 new members of Congress, 3 are women veterans, 7 are Democrats, and 12 are Republicans. As we look to these men and women, we hope that they will be able to bring the importance of veteran benefits and the military to Washington, even more so than in the past.
Addressing Veterans’ Issues
Our country as been involved in the war on terror for the last 17 years, and while the general public might not always feel this, those in the military community do. They have been through deployments, injuries, medical issues from military service, and retirement. They want to know that the people in the government make decisions with the military in mind.
Veteran benefits are important to the military community. From how much a veteran can receive for BAH during school to who can actually qualify for medical benefits after serving in the military. Knowing that at least some of those who get to make these decisions truly understand the cost of the military helps the veteran and military community feel more represented.
Post-9/11 Veteran Representation
Out of the 19 who have just been elected, at least 9 of them are Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. They have served after 9/11 and in this new world of battling terrorism. This number is up from 6 in 2014, and 7 in 2016. Watching this number grow shows us that the demographic of veterans in Congress is changing, even if by just a few numbers each election.
This doesn’t mean that veterans will take over the government, but the numbers are something to be aware of. They were important in this election, and should be in any future elections. As veterans and military members go to the voting booth, knowing that they do have a veteran option is important. While the difference in politics between the republicans and democrats can be quite strong, the love of the veteran and military communities can bring them together.
In total, there will be at least 78 veterans in the House of Representatives and 19 in the Senate. That is a total of 97 veterans, out of a 500 person Congress, about 19%. And while 19% isn’t a majority, can that be enough to influence what happens to our military and our veterans? Has it helped in the past? These are questions the military community will need to ask and are why it is important to be aware of who is winning elections and what they are working for.
Veterans Entering Congress in 2019
As far as the 19 new members of Congress, here is a list of who they are, which state they are from, party affiliation and branch of the military they served in.