WASHINGTON D.C. — When the 117th Congress convened in January, just 91 of 535 members were veterans, five fewer than last Congress and the lowest since the early part of last century.
“That has part to do with fewer Americans serving in the military and serving, frankly, in other ways. But it also is a factor of the costs to run for office, which are just incredibly high right now,” With Honor co-founder and CEO Rye Barcott told FOX 17.
Barcott, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, co-founded the organization and political action committee, which supports both veteran lawmakers and candidates across party lines. He believes having greater veteran representation in D.C. could help to curb the polarization of modern-day politics, in turn making a more functional government.
“We address polarization and dysfunction in congress by helping to elect and support principled veterans who take a pledge to serve with integrity, civility and courage, including the courage to work across party lines,” Barcott explained. “We think that's especially important today. Bipartisanship is near record lows and veteran participation in Congress is also near record lows. We believe those two are really well connected.”
Among the 91 current members of Congress with prior military service, three are from Michigan, including Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids) an Army veteran, and Senator Gary Peters (D-Michigan) a Navy veteran.
With Honor helped support Meijer’s run for office and he has been ranked among the most bipartisan freshmen members of the House.
Peters, while not connected with the organization, was labeled the most effective senator last Congress for getting things done despite being in the minority.
The third is Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet), a retired Lt. General of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Though there are some polarizing members of Congress who are veterans, including Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA). Clyde, a Navy veteran, voted against certifying the 2020 election results and has missed the second most votes of any freshmen in the House this year. With Honor did not contribute to his campaign.
“The competitiveness of the country really depends on being able to actually function and that's what these veterans that With Honor supports, from both parties are doing. They're putting aside the political tribes, and they're saying, listen, we're going to focus on things that really matter for the country, and we're going to get them done,” says Barcott.
With Honor gave more than $300,000 to candidates running last cycle, split nearly 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats.