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Veterans Boost Ranks in Congress

US Capitol Building
Monday, December 19, 2016

The U.S. Army will be well-represented in Congress in January when the new legislative session convenes. More than half of the veterans serving in the House of Representatives and one-third of the veterans in the Senate served in the Army, a new analysis shows.

Twenty-six percent of incoming freshmen in the House are military veterans, “a much higher share than in recent freshman classes,” said Seth Lynn, executive director of the nonprofit Veterans Campaign, which did the analysis. Veterans made up only 17 percent of House freshmen in the 113th Congress and 20 percent in the 114th Congress.

A total of 82 veterans of all branches will serve in the House. Forty-four are Army veterans, including seven incoming freshmen. 

Thirty House veterans have combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nine of those are former soldiers, including two incoming freshmen: Reps. Brian Mast, R-Fla., and Anthony Brown, D-Md.

Incumbents who served post-9/11 combat deployments in the Army are Republican Reps. Lee Zeldin of New York, Brad Wenstrup and Steve Stivers of Ohio, Steve Russell of Oklahoma and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania; and Democrats Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Tim Walz of Minnesota.

The Senate will be home to 10 Army veterans, including three with Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom service: Republicans Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Joni Ernest of Iowa, and Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.

The overall number of veterans in the Senate will remain constant at 21. This is the second consecutive election in which that number did not drop, following a steady 32-year decline.

At the end of the Vietnam War, fully three-quarters of legislators in the House and Senate had military experience.

The full Veterans Campaign analysis is online at www.veteranscampaign.org/research.