This November will see more than one-third of all congressional races on the ballot feature a veteran. Major party primaries have been won by 195 veterans, representing the
largest group of candidates with military experience in a decade. This includes 130 non-incumbents trying to increase the total number of veterans in Congress next year.
The field also features:
♦ 17 women veterans running for office;
♦ 58 veterans who enlisted after Jan. 1, 2000;
♦ 95 veterans with a combat deployment;
♦ 90 veterans who served in the Army (the most from any service);
♦ 16 races featuring two veterans against each other;
♦ 43 states with at least one veteran on the ballot for national office.
The 195 candidates represent an increase of about 7% from the 2020 election and the highest total since 2012.
In 1973 with the start of the 93rd Congress, some 401 lawmakers (roughly 75% of the House and Senate) had some type of military experience in their background. Since then, the number of veterans in Congress has declined steadily. By the start of the 117th Congress in January 2020, the total dropped to just 91 veterans, the lowest level since at least World War II.
Overall, U.S. military forces drew down as the Vietnam War ended and was shifted to an all-volunteer force. This caused a decrease in the number of veterans in America. In 1980, about one in every eight American citizens had served in the military, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By 2020, that figure was closer to one in every 17 American citizens.
Read more about each of the Veteran candidates: