The new Freshman class in Congress contains the largest percentage of veterans seen in a decade. From California’s Gil Cisneros, a former Navy officer, to Florida’s Rep. Michael Waltz, a former Green Beret, to New Jesey’s Christina Houlahan, a former Air Force officer, 19 of the new representatives have served in the U.S. military.
Six of the veterans in Congress this year are women. That is the largest number of female veterans serving in Congress together in U.S. history.
Altogether, there are 96 veterans currently serving in Congress.
Do veterans respond differently to Puerto Rico?
Until Hurricane Maria struck, fewer than half of Americans in national polls realized that residents of Puerto Rico are citizens of the United States. Veterans of the U.S. military have a different experience. Puerto Rico sends a higher proportion of the population to the U.S. military than the States do. Having served alongside men and women from Puerto Rico, veterans have first-hand experience of the patriotism and dedication of people from the Island.
Historically, this fact has led to greater support for Puerto Rico statehood from veterans than from the general population. Puerto Rico formally requested statehood in January, 2018. Congress did not take action on that request in 2018.
Will the large proportion of veterans in this year’s incoming class of representatives change things for Puerto Rico?
America favors statehood
A Rasmussen Reports poll in January, 2018, found that the majority of respondents favored statehood for Puerto Rico. 47% wanted to see statehood for Puerto Rico, compared with 34% opposing statehood. This percentage has showed a steady increase in Rasmussen Reports polling on this topic.
Organizations such as the Vietnam Veterans of America have publicly supported statehood for Puerto Rico. It remains to be seen whether the high proportion of veterans in the new crop of legislators will continue on that path.