Q: We seem to have an incredible lack of leadership and courage within our Congress and the Cabinet. Can you share how many individuals within Congress and the Cabinet have military experience? I hope I am wrong, but I suspect a small percentage.
—Blair Tighe, Johns Creek
A: Of the 541 members of the 113th Congress, 106 – or 19.6 percent — have served or are serving in the military. They include veterans of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo, according to the Congressional Research Service’s “Membership of the 113th Congress: A Profile.” Eight representatives and one senator are serving in the reserves and six representatives are in the National Guard. Two female representatives are combat veterans. There has been a steady decline of veterans in Congress in the past 40 years. Seventy-three percent of Congress in 1971-72 had served in the military and 64 percent of Congress in 1981-82 were veterans. There are three veterans in the Cabinet. They are Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki (Army), Secretary of State John Kerry (Navy) and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (Army), who are decorated veterans of the Vietnam War. All three were wounded and Shinseki retired as a general after serving as the Chief of Staff for the Army from 1999-2003. Shinseki has been a member of the Cabinet since 2009, and Kerry and Hagel were confirmed earlier this year.
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