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Veterans gaining control in Congress; 92 vets elected so far and counting

The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. (Dreamstime/TNS)
November 10, 2022

Congress is set to have more veterans in its next session, not fewer, for only the third time in five decades of steady decline.

A total of 92 veterans are set to serve in the 118th Congress that convenes in January, according to midterm election results available Wednesday afternoon, Military Times reported

That’s one more veteran than the 91 – the fewest since at least World War II – who convened the current Congress. And the number has room to climb. 

Veterans are favored to win in at least five undecided midterm races, according to a Thursday afternoon comparison of New York Times’ election results and Military Times’ list of veteran candidates. 

The still-undecided races are in Maine, California, Arizona, and two districts in New York, including one where both candidates are veterans.

Of the 92 Congress-bound veterans, 79 were elected in the midterms and 16 were newly elected this year.

“While this seems like a moderate uptick, it represents a profound and very positive shift in America’s relationship with its veterans,” said Seth Lynn, founder of the non-profit Veterans Campaign, which studies veterans in public office.

“Having veterans in Congress has been shown to significantly affect how the country conducts foreign policy,” Lynn added. “Military experience is especially crucial as the world is becoming increasingly dangerous and complicated.”

Military experience in Congress has been steadily declining since around 1970, when 71 percent of representatives and 81 percent of senators were ex-military, according to Pew Research Center. But 2015 saw an increase of four veterans, and 2017 saw an increase of three, Military Times reported.

The drop has correlated with an overall decline in military service after the military went all-volunteer in 1973.

The dip in elected veterans isn’t the only trend at play. Veterans being elected to Congress now are younger than they used to be, Lynn told Military Times, adding that many elected this year served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.