Less than two percent of congressional staffers have military experience despite pressure from advocacy groups to include the veteran’s perspective.

Only 200 of the 13,000 congressional staffers have military backgrounds or about 1.6 percent. The calculations do not include elected officials, where veterans make up around 18 percent.

“There’s a fundamental lack of knowledge in Congress in regards to what these benefits mean and what it’s like to serve in the military,” said Justin Brown, founder of HillVets, a bipartisan networking group. “We don’t have that brain trust available.”

Veterans employed in the executive branch, by comparison, make up 31 percent of the labor force. At the high end is Department of Defense while the low end is Health and Human Services:

  • Department of Defense 48 percent
  • Department of Veterans Affairs 33 percent
  • Environmental Protection Agency 9 percent
  • Health and Human Services 8 percent

“As it is now, we have staff writing policy for veterans who have never set foot in a VA hospital,” said Brown, a Navy veteran who previously worked on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “We’re not suggesting that Capitol Hill should have upwards of 50 percent like the Defense Department. But the numbers should be higher than this.”

When you watch the House Committee on Veterans Affairs or its Senate counterpart, now you will know why so many of the lawmakers seem so clueless at times about how VA is treating veterans or the scandals plaguing the agency.

Few within the ranks of its staff are veterans. Meanwhile, Congress pushes the hiring of veterans within the Department of Veterans Affairs, where our policymaking reach is rather limited when impacting the overall population.

Why not do the same on Capitol Hill?

Military Times covered the story but stopped short of providing a pivotal answer to a question all readers should be asking.

Who is responsible for the abysmal veteran hiring? Why is no one outraged by the disproportionate numbers?

Let’s not forget veterans comprise around 8 percent of the total population of Americans. Even if hiring calculus were relative to the overall population, hill staffers would be 8 percent, not 1.6.

The unreasonably low average suggests Congress is going out of its way not to hire veterans.

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21 COMMENTS

  1. To Veterans and Disabled Veterans who read excuse my language really try to convince Benjamin Krause on here to chat how to improve Veterans Health Care because he takes on news of Veterans Affairs Committee before we know about it plus jam your Computer email your Senators or Representative contract the Veteran Affairs Committee your belief how improve Veterans Health Care because it wasn’t for Veteran we would not called United States….Semper Fi Don’t Surrender

    • I tried contacting my representatives/reprobates in Washington DC yesterday. Not one of them answered their phones. Additionally, Marco Rubio’s answering machine was the only one operational!
      How can anyone expect our representatives to listen to us, if their phones aren’t working. Or if none of their aides answers the phone?

    • Arnold, I appreciate your tenacity, but let’s get real… a lot of companies stand to make a lot of money so long as VA remains broken. These companies hire lobbyists. Both parties love campaign contributions. Guess who is not contributing substantively to campaigns? Broke, severely disabled veterans. Lobbyists and big companies, and their employees, are contributing. Both parties are implicated. If Congress truly was going to do something substantive to fix the issues, it would have happened already.

      • My wife says I’m beginning to repeat myself, and I know this is rant redux. Nothing will happen unless and until the pipeline to new meat is shut off. The VSO’s are part of the DC Beltway cabal. There’s no secret handshakes or funny hats. It’s just how a very crass and corrupt system has evolved. The VA machine serves and is served by money. The basis for the money is the largest military on the planet. That military now exists to serve a modern day imperialism. We could linger on Deep State, or Big Brother or Illunazis. Doesn’t matter. Without throngs of willing idiots, that system doesn’t work. Go stalk your local recruiter, butt your noses in, “Don’t Do It Kid” and spend two minutes telling them why. “Personally, I find flag waving very painful whilst astraddle the flagpole.”

    • You fix VA the same way you fix the Nazis, ISIS, Osama Bin Laden, and frankly the same way you “fix” boy dogs so they won’t keep popping out more mouths to feed. You cut off their nuts by way of funding. You declare them to be a cancer on Americas ass and work not to fix the cancer but to eliminate it.

      You fix VA by removing it from Planet Earth. The system is far, far, far beyond EVER being able to serve and without question is aggressively engaged in all forms of behavior to remain that way. So long as one more dollar is sent to VA we will only see ongoing heartache, death, deceptions, and unethical behavior. Theft, disease, butchery, and deception fill every crack and crevice of this behemoth.

      The disease is just too far entrenched for a Polly Anna approach that seems to rely on human integrity and the ability to engage in honesty. There is no fixing that which does not want to be fixed. The fix is in and vets pay the price. Perhaps if there was not decades upon decades of documented corruption and treachery at the hands of VA cretins then there would be a shot at reform but frankly within the first year of VA reformation after the first failed attempt at creating an honest organization the new “fixed” VA had already ammassed multiple headlines regarding corruption. Just one year into this abyssmal failure at its founding and the place was already run by the money changers.

      You fix VA by eliminating it utterly. All functions need to be transferred to SSA and the entire cabinet must be destroyed or it is simply business as usual.

      • Dennis! where the hell you been man. You OK? I was wondering what the hell happened to you. I was in Roseburg a couple months ago to check out a couple houses to buy. I haven’t been to Oregon since I quit driving truck in 2004. Oregon has really turned to shit but the people are still nice and friendly. Hope your OK with your health.

  2. And those less than 2% will be OH-SO-SHINY when paraded around on bi-election and erection days …all for the Vets….toenail scraps from the 1%’s servants are what Veterans really see from these commandeers of stairmasters on the VA Titanic.

  3. It is an unreasonably low average 1.6%. Sure congress is going out of its way not to hire veterans, just like every other big shot corporation they represent.
    Veterans and lying bullshiters don’t mix well.

  4. Another reason to contact your Representatives: the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released the latest possible reduction list of VA benefits in regard to the deficit:

    Mandatory Spending Options
    Option 34: Narrow Eligibility for Veterans’ Disability Compensation by Excluding Certain Disabilities Unrelated to Military Duties
    Option 35: End VA’s Individual Unemployability Payments to Disabled Veterans at the Full Retirement Age for Social Security
    Option 36: Reduce VA’s Disability Benefits to Veterans Who Are Older Than the Full Retirement Age for Social Security
    Option 37: Narrow Eligibility for VA’s Disability Compensation by Excluding Veterans with Low Disability Ratings
    Discretionary Spending Options
    Option 30: End Enrollment in VA Medical Care for Veterans in Priority Groups 7 and 8
    Revenue Options
    Include Disability Payments From the Department of Veterans Affairs in Taxable Income

    The CBO has been promoting many of these for some time, and if memory serves here, Mitt Romney touted some of these options when he ran against Barrack Obama.

    Ben, I appreciate the headś up regarding HillVets. This was new information. We need a lobby force at that level – funding in comparison to ¨big interest¨ groups is another story, but this is a start.

  5. Benjamin, thanks for all your effort and production of this newsletter. I have worked on the Hill and I think there are many structural reasons why there are not more veterans as staffers. First, many entry level staffers are young and have local political connections. Seconds, us veterans are very different. We are not bright shiny untarnished objects. We are overwhelmingly older male and not young women (overall) and much of the hiring is done by femaie senior staff that might find an older veteran a little too scary. Third, the pay stinks and by the time we get out of the service, got a degree we have a family and there is “no slot” that seems to fit. Fourth, and sadly, our military experience does not really translate to the Congressional world. We are better paid and appreciated by going to work for defense contractor, or law enforcement, or a civilian job that appreciates our experience.
    Bluntly, I think we can have a greater impact by working for a VSO and learning legislative affairs and using that experience to come in at a higher level.
    All of that said, we have a much larger problem. The public does not understand. They do not understand that while in the service we gave up our civil rights, right to chose where we live and work, and right to quick our job.

  6. There is another side – people who work for their Congress person are paid at minimum wage or slightly higher. Schedulers, long-time staffers, chiefs of staff, etcetera make living wages as do individuals who are working on committees. If you are coming out of the service, you are not going to make enough to live in the DC area, support a family, etcetera. Veterans are not going to want to work on the Hill if they can’t afford the position.

    • Never intended to be enforced, i agree Priority hiring used only for family, and political contributors, etc.

  7. Benjamin Krause why can’t you can you please contact your Senators or Representatives contract Veteran Affairs Committee passed a new Disabled Veterans Benefit Law your belief how improve Veterans Health Care because without Veterans we would not called United States…….Semper Fi keep in touch and Stay Healthy and Family and your Staff.

  8. I am a OIF and OEF veteran. I work in a Congressional District Office for the House of Representatives. There are three vets ( including me) that work in the office. Our total staff ( in DC and in the District in our State) is 13. That’s 23% if we are doing the numbers here.

    We have a Navy base and VA health care facility in our district. Our member is on the House Committee for Veteran Affairs and actively writes legislation for the healthcare subcommittee. I am in a very blue state, working for a Democratic woman representative. She actively hires veterans regardless of gender or political affiliation.

    I can tell you that many congressional members who have large populations of veterans in their district, are very active in seeing that veteran are getting services, and are being hired nation wide. They are advocates in that way. I can tell you first hand.

    I am not saying that everything is great. Many veterans that call us looking for help are at the end of their ropes in seeking services. Many veterans that should call us, don’t because they don’t know all the type of services congressional office can help with. But, to say that Congress is not actively hiring veterans is false. You failed to mention several factors and programs that target hiring vets.

    1) Entry level congressional staffer pay is very LOW. Most jobs are entry level pay in Congress, unless you are a very senior staff ( Cheif of Staff etc..). Many veterans, like me, with a family can only take these jobs in congressional offices because they can supplement their income with VA disability pay. But it is not enough. They pay is very much a deterrent. There is a very high turnover of congressional staff – they pay is major a factor.

    2) Congress has a program called the Wounder Warrior Fellowship that is specifically for veterans that are rated at a disability of 30% or higher, honorably discharged, within 5 years of leaving service, where a E-5 or O-3 and bellow while in service, and did not retire after 20 years. You do not have to have a college degree for this job. This job has many openings currently on USA jobs. Congress just added a major amount of funding into this program last year. The fellowship lasts for 2 years and many veterans are hired on afterward. As of today 1/10/2019 There are currently 25 job openings on USA Jobs and they are adding all the time.

    It is not perfect, but to say that Congress isn’t actively pursuing vets is false and I am never made to be paraded for my congress person, because 1) I wouldn’t do it. 2) they don’t see me as a “feather in their cap” but an actual resource when it comes to getting a veteran perspective for legislation.

    • Marcee, quit and go somewhere else, where you can at least make an honest living. Or do you really want to be part of a national bribery network. A network that operates with payouts, kickbacks, bribes. You can thank me latter.

    • Nice fluff piece Marcee. But then again females and males at times do not have or get the same treatment or benefit of hiring. Quotas to meet ya know, by law. Especially from officials, agencies, authorities. You by all means are an employed “insider” and you are a mere stat, strike, or “feather” in the cap for the Democrats or “Women’s March” cliques. How many men vets are in that Democrat House? Don’t bother, know way of knowing any real facts anyway.

      You name them I have contacted them or tried to. In state, out of state, DC, whatever/whomever, same crap. By other groups or so-called civil liberties groups I am out for merely being white, male, and having no insider or clique connections. Oh and being reminded locally constantly that I am not included in the local lefty community and that “Democrats (all politicians) must stay on the same page.” Very cliche today. Why do you think I bitch as much as I do on Ben’s blog? Just another “F-ing whiner?”

      Pay? Used to be position was better than pay. Still is but ya know we all want more money or raises to more tax dollars wanted for foreign aid and gifts to the scum-buckets. A lot of hate and activism, retaliation, totally ignoring people happen all the time in those offices at “The top.”

      Fellowships? Hiring? Yeah for nepotism, cliques to the activist of all stripes. Don’t hand me BS. I think my old ass life experience tops yours when dealing the the A to Z cliques, nepotism, and corruption out there. Honorable Discharges? While many forced out due to health or other issues are given (maybe a choice) General under honorable but that is “negative paper.” Just like some vets on the “Domestic terror list” which are many will not be found suitable for government employment. USAA insurance will not approve any vets for insurance either with such “bad paper.” And in towns and states like mine, Indiana, the cliques to Dems hire their own. And they all will and do check out the political affiliations and special interest groups you may belong to and what you vote for. A beat cop can punch your info in for that, or easily found on searches. You go in for a job app to only hear the same crap… “over qualified, under qualified, or we have quotas to meet and they aren’t ‘white males.'”

      You would “parade” if told to do so or to fit in with the likes of the DC “women’s March and such, or by some MoveOn think tank Marx-feminist. Demanded by the high councils of Pelosi and the likes? Yes you would. Vagina hats and props are optional I am told. Same with playing identity politics or being told to engage in or turn your head while some retaliation and game playing is going on towards some targeted vet. Would you be a honest whistle-blower???

      Instead of blowing smoke how about trying to get all the DC staffers, Congress critters, reps, etc, to stand up for, support, pledge allegiance/alliances to, or walk out over us like they do over PC crap, Israel, the pedophiles, to other that should be in prison but are not. Do what I have done, see what i have in politics, health care, from u kneel versities, etc. You wont try to polish those turds in DC or high state levels so much. I best stop.

    • Marcee send some leeps to helo me. I’m willing, and waiting. I’m waiting.

      You can give me a message through Ben.

    • Marcee,

      I am truly concerned about you. Apparently from your above post, you may be experiencing early signs of syphilitic dementia . . .

      Please get yourself checked out by competent medical authority, NOT the VA.

      WAY PAST TIME to burn the Vet Hating Honeypot known as the VA down, and pyss on its ashes.

      Then build a system that truly serves veterans first.

  9. Me, I’m TOTALLY disgusted with ALL things VA.

    The system is shot, degraded to the point that NO ONE knows where to implement ONE MAJOR CHANGE, that would put VA back into, or heading towards Precision Medicine.

    The VA is so entangled in many contradicting policies, that many VA Execs, Mid-level Management, and Front Line Supervisors don’t know how to manage the VA’s Operations smoothly and effectively.

    VA Operations are so bad, that the VA policy’s encourages mis-management or corruption. Policy over Policy confusing their own staff that runs the VA policy-burdened machine. And it will continue on as such.

    I read post after post of the same issues, where these topics negatively effect most Vets, excluding those that are in the inside, and know how to work the system for the benefit of themselves.

    This VA bullshit is getting old, the unsolved and money thrown at troubles in the VA, makes it impossible to prperly serve the 21st Century Veteran. I’ve known this for sometime now, and probably you too.

    And what pisses me the fuck off, is that we’ve got the ass-hole trolls, VA snoopers, and spies that visit Bens blog on a daily basis. So do you mean that we’ve seen no hopeful changes in the VA? Even after we Vets post what we’re going through and how its effecting us, and our families.

    Even the Politicians have their fucking heads in the sand. If they wanted to.make changes in the VA, Politicians would be trying to fix many of the topics that we Vets discuss on Ben’s blog on a daily basis.

    All of this makes it hard for me to manage my own healthcare. I’ve suffered because of all the bullshit thats going on inside the VA. And many others have suffered as well.

    Conclusion; 1) shut down the VA, 2) allow me access to the same services in Private Sector, 3) services provided by my choice if Dr, etc, 4) and that I have the right to weigh heavily in my own healthcare.

    We’re wasting good money trying to fix the bad.

    Shut the VA the fuck down. The only thing thats firmly standing firmly in the VA are its structures/facilities. And I wonder how much all of the VA’s facility upgrades are actually a facade.

  10. BREAKING NEWS
    From:
    “Fox News” (3:10 min long)
    Date: 13 January 2019
    Titled:
    “Would VA Healthcare System Shift Help Service Members”

    It looks like President Trump, and the Sec of VA, may be leaning towards “privatization of the VA!” Using “Tricare” as its model!!!!!

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