Tex­ans elected pair of veter­ans

State has six of the 78 from across U.S. who will be in new Congress

San Antonio Express-News (Sunday) - - Metro - By Jeremy Wal­lace AUSTIN BU­REAU

Texas is send­ing two new mem­bers to Congress who are mil­i­tary veter­ans, con­tribut­ing to the largest fresh­man class of for­mer troops on Capi­tol Hill since 2010.

Na­tion­wide, 17 newly elected mem­bers of the House are veter­ans, as­sur­ing that Congress will be­gin 2019 with at least 78 veter­ans, one more than the num­ber cur­rently serv­ing in the House.

“We have just elected to Congress a record num­ber of new Iraq and Afghanistan veter­ans, while wit­ness­ing the largest in­flux ever of women veter­ans,” said Seth Lynn, founder of Veter­ans Cam­paign, which helps re­cruit and pre­pare for­mer troops to run for of­fice.

The list of veter­ans in­cludes Hous­ton Repub­li­can Dan Cren­shaw, a re­tired Navy SEAL who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Plano Repub­li­can Van Tay­lor, a re­tired Marine who fought in Iraq.

They will be among six veter­ans rep­re­sent­ing Texas in Congress. The state has six veter­ans in Congress now, but two of them — Ted Poe, RA­tas­cocita, and Sam John­son, R-Plano — are re­tir­ing. Cren­shaw is re­plac­ing Poe in the 2nd Con­gres­sional Dis­trict, while Tay­lor is re­plac­ing John­son in the 3rd Dis­trict.

For most of the past 20 years, the num­ber of mil­i­tary veter­ans has been on the de­cline in Congress. Even Texas, which has 15 ac­tive-duty mil­i­tary bases and 1.6 mil­lion veter­ans, has seen its num­ber of vet­eran U.S. rep­re­sen­ta­tives de­cline from 16 in 1971 to six to­day.

Na­tion­ally, 72 per­cent of House mem­bers were veter­ans in 1971. To­day, just 18 per­cent are.

The de­cline in veter­ans has prompted for­mer troops to be­come more ag­gres­sive in try­ing to con­vince more of their for­mer ser­vice col­leagues to run for of­fice. Nearly 200 veter­ans ran for Congress this year.

“Cur­rently, vet­eran rep­re­sen­ta­tion in Congress is at a record low, and young veter­ans of­ten face high bar­ri­ers to en­try due to the ris­ing costs to run for of­fice,” said Rye Bar­cott, a Marine Corp vet­eran and co-founder of With Honor, a group in Washington, D.C., that works to get more veter­ans

in Congress. “I am en­cour­aged to see this surge of fel­low veter­ans who are an­swer­ing the call to serve our coun­try again.”

Sev­eral veter­ans run­ning for Congress came up short in Texas, in­clud­ing Air Force vet­eran MJ He­gar and Army vet­eran Joseph Kopser, both Democrats.

Cren­shaw, 34, will be the only Navy SEAL vet­eran in Congress. An­other SEAL, U.S. Rep. Scott Tay­lor, R-Vir­ginia, lost his re-elec­tion bid.

Cren­shaw nearly died on a bat­tle­field in Afghanistan six years ago af­ter a road­side bomb killed his Afghan in­ter­preter. Cren­shaw said that, at first, he couldn’t see at all. He cred­its his doc­tors with pulling off a mir­a­cle to keep him alive and re­store vi­sion in his left eye.

Lynn of Veter­ans Cam­paign said veter­ans not only bring first­hand knowl­edge on mil­i­tary is­sues, but they have his­tor­i­cally been more ag­gres­sive in chal­leng­ing pres­i­dents, re­gard­less of party, on na­tional de­fense is­sues.

Ac­cord­ing to With Honor, the surge in mil­i­tary veter­ans can help cut par­ti­san­ship in Washington. The group says veter­ans are more likely than non­vet­eran politi­cians to work with their col­leagues across the aisle.

In ad­di­tion to Cren­shaw and Tay­lor, the other veter­ans from Texas in Congress are Reps. Brian Babin, RWoodville; Pete Ol­son, RSu­gar Land; Louie Gohmert R-Tyler, and Michael Con­away, R-Mid­land. Gohmert and Con­away served in the Army, Babin was in the Air Force, and Ol­son served in the Navy.

Cren­shaw gained na­tional at­ten­tion for a re­cent ap­pear­ance on NBC’s “Satur­day Night Live.” In a previous show, co­me­dian Pete David­son had made fun of Cren­shaw and his eye patch. Ap­pear­ing on a sub­se­quent “SNL,” Cren­shaw ac­cepted David­son’s apol­ogy and took play­ful jabs at him.

Tay­lor

Cren­shaw

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