The 2012 election marked the first time in 80 years that neither major party presidential nominee had served in the military. Two years later, the 114th Congress was sworn in with the smallest proportion of veterans on record.
According to an October 2015 Congressional Research Service report, the high point was reached in the 92nd Congress (1971-72) when 73 percent of Congress had served in the military. Today, veterans make up 20 percent of the Senate and just 18 percent of the House of Representatives.
Part of the reason is simply that, in the era of the all-volunteer force, far fewer Americans are veterans than during the post-World War II period.
“There are simply fewer veterans among the general population. Today, veterans only comprise about 9 percent of the adult population and after Vietnam, fewer members of the political elite looked to military service as a career path,” said the American Enterprise Institute’s Rebecca Burgess, co-author of a report examining veterans in public office.