99% Of Congressional Staffers Have Never Served In The Military

Maj. Gen. Patrick A. Murphy, National Guard director of Strategic Plans and Policy, speaks with the Congresswoman Madeline Bordallo, for Guam, at the National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program information event at the U.S. Capitol June 16, 2016.
U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. John E. Hillier

A recent survey from HillVets, a bipartisan veterans group based in Washington, D.C., found that roughly 1% of staff members serving in congressional offices are veterans. In contrast, roughly 60% of annual discretionary spending is related to veterans and the military.

“HillVets for the last three years has been highlighting the lack of veterans on Capitol Hill that are working in the policy space,” Justin Brown, Hillvets’ founder, told Task & Purpose. “When we saw that the numbers had not really changed much, we thought it was time to do something a bit different.”

As part of a new campaign to see more veterans hired to staff positions on the hill, HillVets reached out to congressional leaders.

Related: Why Getting More Veterans On The Hill Is A Bipartisan Issue »

“We didn’t think it was too much to ask each member of Congress to really do their utmost to consider a veteran as they are making hiring decisions,” said Brown.

The group hopes that leaders in Congress will take steps to hire veterans to their staff, host a non-partisan discussion on how to increase veteran hiring on the Hill, and monitor the rates at which veterans are hired to positions on Capitol Hill.

According to HillVets, if every member of Congress hired one veteran, that would increase the percentage of vets on Capitol Hill from 1% to 5%.

“Just one veteran in an office gives that office that unique perspective related to military service and what it means to be a veteran and that’s an important framework and mindset we need to have in congressional offices,” said Brown. “To have that brain trust completely missing from the legislative arena is very concerning to us.”

In addition to bringing on personnel with experiences with the military, Brown sees hiring veterans as a way to increase bipartisanship in Congress.

“That common identity with other veterans on Capitol Hill fosters a level of trust that other folks who do not have military experience, are not veterans, they don’t enjoy that same level of camaraderie,” he said.

By increasing the number of veterans on Capitol Hill, it opens up more opportunities to reach across the aisle, argues Brown.

“There are few identities that really trump partisan politics, and the military identity, in our experience, is one,” said Brown. “I’m a Navy veteran before I’m a Democrat.”

Hospital Corpsman, 3rd Class, Jennifer Rooney, who was immediately promoted after selection through the Meritorious Promotion Program, was pinned in a ceremony Sept. 20, 2019, by her father, Robert Rooney, and grandfather, John Rooney. (U.S. Marine Corps/Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Molina)

A U.S.S. Manchester, CL-83, hat firmly tucked on his head, John Ronney, pierced the collar of his granddaughter, Jennifer Rooney's new rank during a special pinning ceremony at Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune on Sept. 25.

By Rooney's side was his son and Jennifer's father Robert, a Navy veteran. Together, three Navy veterans brought together for military tradition.

"They are the two people who taught me everything I needed to know about the Navy," said Jennifer.

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Seaman Ethan W. Tucker, 21, was arrested August 28 after a seven-month Coast Guard investigation into the January death of Seaman Ethan Kelch, 19, who served on the same ship as Tucker— the Kodiak, Alaska-based high endurance cutter Douglas Munro.

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Erdogan agreed on Thursday in talks with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence a five-day pause in the offensive to allow time for the Kurdish fighters to withdraw from a "safe zone" Turkey aims to establish in northeast Syria near the Turkish border.

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President Trump stoked confusion Friday by declaring the U.S. has "secured the Oil" in the Middle East amid continued fallout from the Turkish invasion of northern Syria that he enabled by pulling American troops out of the region.

It wasn't immediately clear what the president was talking about, as there were no publicly known developments in Syria or elsewhere in the Middle East relating to oil. White House aides did not return requests for comment.

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The investigation, the results of which were released on Friday by Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley's office, centered on whether Clinton, who served as the top U.S. diplomat from 2009 to 2013, jeopardized classified information by using a private email server rather than a government one.

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