Do veterans make up a greater percentage of Congress than of the general population?

Saturday, December 4, 2021
By Austin Tannenbaum

The veteran population is 10 percentage points higher in Congress than in the general population.

According to the Congressional Research Service, as of January 2021, Congress had 75 veterans in the House and 16 in the Senate, for a total of 91. These figures suggest veterans make up 17% of the 535-member Congress.

In contrast, in 2018, the latest year with available data, veterans made up about 7% of the adult population.

Despite being higher than in the general population, veteran representation in Congress has been declining since the mid-1970s, when nearly three-fourths of lawmakers had served in the military, according to Military Times. The Military Officers Association of America cites the end of the draft as one reason for the drop.

Veteran representation within the general population has also decreased, from 18% in 1980 to 7% in 2018.

This fact brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.
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