Number of Veterans in Congress Continues to Drop Despite New Iraq/Afghanistan Members
According to the Army Times, nine veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will take the oath of office and become members of Congress this year. However, the overall number of veterans in Congress continues to decline in a trend that has been going on for at least 30 years.
Last year 107 veterans ran for Congressional office, 60 as Republicans and 47 as Democrats. As a result, there will be nine new veterans in the House of Representatives. However, the overall number of veterans serving in the House will drop from 92 during the last two years to between 83 and 86 (different sources are reporting different numbers). In the Senate, the number of veterans will drop from 26 to 20. Veterans who left the Senate at the end of 2012 include Akaka, Lugar, Brown, Bingaman, Webb, and Kohl. None of the incoming freshmen senators have military experience.
Large numbers of WWII veterans served in Congress from the late 1940â€™s until the 1980â€™s. In fact, in 1977-78 more than 400 of the 535 members of Congress were veterans.
It was in the 1980â€™s when the number of veterans started declining by about 10 percent each election cycle (every two years). Because the number of personnel serving in Iraq/Afghanistan was, by comparison with WWII much smaller, it is unlikely that veterans will see an uptick in the percentage that serve in Congress.