Charlie Sheen isn’t exactly seen as a role model by many people, but for freshman Congressman Scott Taylor, the actor’s 1990 film “Navy SEALs” had an unquestionably positive impact. Raised by a single mother on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, Taylor was looking for direction in life after he graduated from high school — inspired in part by the film, he found it in the SEALs. He ultimately served from 1997 to 2005 in missions that brought him to locations across South and Central America and Iraq.
With less than a year remaining before our next round of elections, veterans are voicing their concerns about the declining number of elected officials with military experience. After all, veterans are the only Americans who have risked their lives for the country; they are the only ones who truly understand sacrifice and who know how to make tough decisions — or so the story goes. While most would agree that military service generally contributes favorably to a politician’s skillset, we must also recognize that other traits and backgrounds are equally valuable to possess and equally critical for Congress to represent. As the representative body for the people, Congress ought to look and think like the people. Unfortunately for the veteran movement, veterans are already overrepresented in Congress by a factor of two, while other important groups remain grossly underrepresented.
The Democratic and Republican party nominees in 2016, and likely their vice presidential nominees, will almost certainly have the same thing in common as the nominees in 2012; Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Mitt Romney, and Paul Ryan — no military service.