To the Editor: 

America’s government is better when we have more veterans in government.

Veterans bring a unique ethos to every endeavor – an attitude and aptitude of service, discipline, teamwork, mission-focus – along with a commitment to serve America’s interests, no matter the cost.

Throughout our nation’s history, veterans have taken their military service experience into government. Until about four decades ago, most members of Congress – both senators and representatives – have had military service, but that ratio is now only about 20%. Most of our presidents also have had military service, but three of our last four presidents have had no military service.

Our confidence in Congress is at a historical low – so is the percentage of veterans serving in Congress. These patterns may be related. The lower ratio of veterans in Congress may simply reflect the lower ratio of veterans in our general population – a manifestation of representative government. Regardless, as the percentage of veterans in Congress has declined, so has our confidence in Congress. 

As long as we work our democracy, our democracy will work. Electing more veterans may not cure what is ailing our government, but it would likely help.

I urge all citizens to vote and to vote knowledgeably. When you know how you want to cast your vote, vote your conscience. Voting your conscience may mean choosing not to vote for a veteran, and that’s certainly okay, but, when you are uncertain how - or even why - to cast your vote, if there is a veteran on the ballot, vote for the veteran. 

ED. NOTE: The author is CEO of the Cape May County Herald and a Coast Guard retiree.