Veterans in politics used to make up a large majority of those serving our nation in local, State, and Federal legislative bodies. That is not the case anymore. The peak was reached in the 1970’s and has been declining ever since.
While you might suspect that the all volunteer force is the prime reason for this, you would only be partially correct. Contrary to what the drive by media and Hollywood would have you believe, prior military service is a good thing to have on your resume. Most of our history’s most renowned Presidents and Statesmen had military service. Be sure and look at the graphs to see who chooses to serve.
By Rebecca Burgess, and Amy Daniel at American Enterprise Institute:
Serving after serving: Veterans in state public office
One year into the Civil War, former diplomat and celebrated author Nathaniel Hawthorne traveled to Washington DC to survey the effects of war-making on the nation and its leaders. Writing “Chiefly about War Matters by a Peaceable Man” later in The Atlantic Monthly, Hawthorne observed that what the war spelled for the politically ambitious was that prior military service would be a necessity for election into public office.
One bullet-headed general will succeed another in the Presidential chair; and veterans will hold the offices at home and abroad, and sit in Congress and the State legislatures, and fill all the avenues of public life. And yet I do not speak of this deprecatingly, since, very likely, it may substitute something more genuine, instead of the many shams on which men have heretofore founded their claims to public regard…
Are veterans in public office a vanishing breed?
Hawthorne was right to anticipate the reverberations into political office of military experience. Six Civil War veterans were elected to the presidency: Ulysses Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, and Chester Arthur. One-third of the members of Congress during the 49th Congress (1885–87) were veterans from northern and border states. According to the Senate Historical Office, all told, 87 Union veterans would eventually serve in the US Senate, joined by 72 ex-Confederates.