Military experience in Congress drops after mid-term elections

January 6, 2019 GMT

WASHINGTON D.C. - Fewer and fewer members of Congress have military backgrounds with the mid-term elections not helping representation of veterans in Washington.

Congressman Don Bacon, former commander of Offutt Air Force Base, laments the weak military voice in Congress, made weaker after the mid-terms.

“We had more veterans lose than won. So, we went backwards,” Bacon tells Nebraska Radio Network. “We had 19% of the House were veterans in the 115th Congress. It’s going to be 18% in the 116th Congress. So, we went backwards just a little bit and when you compare it to the 70s, over three-quarters of all the members were veterans.”


Veterans among members of Congressional staffs are even rarer. Bacon says only 2% of the staffers on Capitol Hill have military backgrounds.

Bacon says he hopes in the new Congress to use his military experience to work on electronic warfare and intelligence reconnaissance, which he says have been languishing. He also wants to spur improvements to the Gold Star program, which comes to the aid of those who have lost a spouse in battle. He wants to oversee improvements to cyber defense against Russia and China as well as modernization of the country’s nuclear defense system and fight against efforts to cut the nuclear defense system.

Those are military matters which Bacon says a veteran can add a voice of expertise in a Congress sorely lacking it. But military experience isn’t the only benefit of veterans in Congress, according to Bacon, who says veterans benefit from the military’s culture.

“The veterans tend to be more team players,” according to Bacon. “Even when the disagree, they do it in a collegial way and I think that we need more of that in the House and in Washington in general.”