When I was member of Congress, we started an endeavor called the Guardian Fund. It was a political action committee (PAC) dedicated to supporting military and minority conservatives running for office. In 2012, we were very successful in enabling some nine to become members of the U.S. Congress. In 2014, the Guardian Fund was even more successful in getting 11 elected. I’ve stepped down as the Chairman of the Guardian Fund and was replaced by U.S. Representative Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga), who is doing a phenomenal job. Being the Executive Director of a 501c(3), I cannot take an active role, but still serve in an “emeritus” capacity.
And with that being said, I want to say that now, more than ever, we need the Guardian Fund.
As reported by the Military Times, The overall number of veterans serving in Congress will likely drop again next session, even as the number of lawmakers who fought in the recent wars continues to rise.
An analysis from the nonpartisan Veterans Campaign shows that for the first time in 70 years, Congress could boast fewer than 100 veterans in the House and Senate in 2017. That is due in large part to retirements of World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans, and the aging of America’s veterans population as a whole.
“So it’s natural to see the numbers drop,” said Seth Lynn, executive director of the campaign. “I feel like this is getting to the lower level we’re going to see for quite a while.”
Currently 21 veterans serve in the Senate, a number that’s expected to hold steady once the elections finish.
But the House looks certain to reduce its number of lawmakers with direct military experience. Today, 79 representatives are veterans, and Lynn said that number is likely to drop by about 10 percent in the November contests.
In the mid 1970s, nearly three-fourths of the House and Senate had served in the military, but it has declined steadily in the decades since. If the Veterans Campaign predictions hold true, that number will be just over 20 percent.
Still, that’s a larger percentage than veterans make up across the country. Only about 7 percent of Americans have served in the military.
“So veterans are still over-represented in Congress,” said Phil Carter, an Iraq War veteran and director of the Military, Veterans and Society Program at the Center for a New American Security.
I find no consolation in the “veterans over-represented in Congress” line, and I wish there were more Veterans in our American society. If it were indeed the case that veterans were “over-represented” in Congress, then why do we have the abhorrent treatment of our Veterans and the abysmal readiness condition of our U.S. military?
I just have to ask the simple question: what is the percentage of members of Congress who are lawyers? That is where we have a true “over-representation.”
I truly believe if we had more Veterans of recent combat service in our Congress, we would see more dedication to our Constitution, rule of law, and a sincere focus on getting things done. Ya know, that selfless service thing, that would replace the sense of corruption, elitism and cronyism that spawns the demons of special interest and self-service.
Now, just so you know, this Center for New American Security was founded in 2007 and is described as such, “The administration of President Barack Obama has hired several CNAS employees for key jobs. Founders Michele’ Flournoy and Kurt Campbell formerly served as the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy and the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, respectively. In June 2009 The Washington Post suggested, “In the era of Obama… the Center for a New American Security may emerge as Washington’s go-to think tank on military affairs.”
Needless to say, as we examine the Obama era national security and foreign policy failures and debacles, that is not exactly a glowing advertisement. So thanks Phil, but it’s very easy for me to disregard your dismissive comment about Veterans being “over-represented,” when you assess the failures of our national security policy and Veterans affairs.
Just think about this: maybe if we had more Veterans on Capitol Hill we wouldn’t have the insidious demand for Veterans to payback reenlistment bonuses. Maybe we wouldn’t have the abject decimation of our military capability and capacity. Maybe we wouldn’t have the Secretary of the Army stating that my service branch will be providing taxpayer-funded sex-change surgeries for individuals suffering from a mental condition called gender dysphoria. Maybe with more Veterans on Capitol Hill, there would not have been a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and the creation of ISIS. Maybe the Taliban wouldn’t have taken back control of more territory than since their ousting in 2003.
Yeah, I could go on… Bottom line, I would rather have Congress predominantly made up of Veterans — not lawyers and Ivy league educated policy wonks who have never been on the receiving end of an AK-47, PKM or RPG.
Maybe, if we had more Veterans in Congress, SecDef Ash Carter would not be making such asinine assertions such as, Defense Secretary Ash Carter has launched a sweeping review of the military’s recruiting standards, saying current rules for screening new entrants may be “overly restrictive” and preventing America’s most talented young people from joining the ranks.
Among the benchmarks that will get new scrutiny: fitness standards, marijuana use, tattoo regulations and the military’s longtime reluctance to allow single parents to start military careers.
Carter’s announcement Tuesday marked the latest round of his “Force of the Future” personnel reforms, which are driven by his concerns that the military today is ill-equipped to recruit and retain the top talent needed for future missions.
“We’re going to review and update these standards as appropriate,” Carter said in a speech to reserve officer training corps cadets at the City College of New York. “Now, some of these things we’ll never be able to compromise on. And we will always have to maintain high standards. But at the same time, these benchmarks must be kept relevant for both today’s force and tomorrow’s, meaning we have to ensure they’re not unnecessarily restrictive.”
I have tattoos, but we don’t need to relax standards so that our military starts to look like a street gang. As for relaxing standards on single parents, we already have traditional two-parent families struggling with these multiple deployments. And I remember when the great, now deceased, U.S. Marine Corps Commandant General Carl Mundy gave an order to only have single Marines as first-term troops, and it was Les Aspin who beat him down. Gen. Mundy knew of the stresses of the Fleet Marine Force (FMF), but some social egalitarian feel gooder, Aspin, countered and embarrassed General Mundy.
Yes, we need more Veterans on Capitol Hill so stupid ideas like relaxing regulations on marijuana use doesn’t happen. This is is one of the unintended consequences of legalizing drug use on the recruitment of our military. And why is Ash Carter concerned about reducing fitness levels? Why is he attempting to make the military conform to the lack of physical discipline, instead of challenging our young people to accept, meet and surpass the standards to earn the title of Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine? I just have to ask, when was the last time Ash Carter went for a run with our troops on a visit? Yep, we need a Veteran to be Secretary of Defense, and stop this rewarding of this key position as part of political patronage!
So, what is the takeaway? We may have some 7% of American society who’s served in our military. But we truly need 70% to be on Capitol Hill and and leading our Veterans Administration…not lawyers, not career politicos, not career bureaucrats.