Veteran Lawmakers Call For Increased National Service, Warn Of Low Military Participation

In a bipartisan effort, Rep. Pat Ryan (D-NY) and Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL)called for a renewed focus on national service and expressed concern over the low percentage of Americans serving in the military. Speaking on “Face the Nation” ahead of Memorial Day, the veteran lawmakers warned that the current situation, with less than 1% of the population as active-duty service members, is “deeply problematic as a democracy.”

Ryan and Waltz have been working together to prioritize military recruitment in the annual defense bill, pushing the Department of Defense to address the challenges faced by each branch of the armed forces in meeting their recruitment goals. The representatives noted that their efforts are starting to yield positive results, with recruitment numbers beginning to rise.

The lawmakers also participate in a bipartisan tradition of hand-washing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to mark Memorial Day, which Waltz initiated to bring together representatives from various backgrounds to honor their forefathers, despite their differences.

Waltz suggested that national service does not have to be limited to the military and proposed incentivizing young people to perform a year of service after graduation in exchange for benefits. He emphasized the importance of getting young people involved in leadership roles, discipline, and serving a cause bigger than themselves, alongside fellow Americans from diverse backgrounds.

The representatives advocated for increasing the number of veterans in Congress, believing that having more people who have served in the military or performed national service would better represent the American people.

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