Since 1971 when veterans made up 72 percent of the United States House of Representatives and 78 percent of the Senate, the numbers of veterans in Congress has dwindled. In the latest Congress, only 20 percent of Senators served in the military and only 18 percent of House members claimed military service.

Much of that decline is due to the all volunteer force and the shrinking number of veterans in the country as a whole. World War II veterans are almost gone and Korean and Vietnam War Veterans are aging.

Despite declining numbers of veterans in Congress in the past three decades, Rebecca Burgess, manager of the American Enterprise Institute’s Program on American Citizenship said their recent survey indicates that the “pipeline of potential veteran candidates for national office may be refilling.” Her survey found an increase of veterans seeking office at the state and local level. “I think it’s fair to think that we’ll see an increase in the number of veteran candidates at the federal level in coming years,” Burgess said. “For some, state offices are like getting your feet wet.”

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A farm boy without a career plan had retired after an eventful 26.5-year career in the United States Army. After retirement, he filled the days with substitute teaching, cutting wood and planting trees. Nothing challenged him like the years at Clemson when it was an all-male military college and most jobs he had in the military including leading an organization for 6 years with about a hundred military personnel and more then ten-thousand civilians. At night he watched television news, studied history, including the Bible and read everything he could find about current events.

It was the 1980s and the nation had barely survived the incompetent administration of Jimmy Carter and had taken a chance on Ronald Reagan. The leftists that had forced the abandonment of South Vietnam to the Communists hated Reagan, but were unsuccessful in destroying him as they had successfully destroyed President Nixon.

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Donald Trump has defeated 16 Republican Candidates in the Republican Primary contests. He is the only candidate standing and is presumed to be the ultimate winner at the Republican Convention in Cleveland, Ohio in July. He humiliated candidates Lindsey Graham and Jeb Bush in the South Carolina Primary. The entire Bush family, including two former presidents, is furious with Trump and refuses to endorse or promise to vote for him in the General Election.

Establishment Republicans who fear losing their power and prestige are taking out their revenge on Trump, however, it is the voters with whom they are really angry. For decades conservative Republicans have supported the candidates the party bosses selected for them. They made promises and never kept them. The voters are angry and have decided not to support the party regulars this time. They have chosen instead to take their chances with an outsider who has promised what they want in a leader. The nation is shocked at his success and the party leaders are terrified. 

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As a retired soldier with both enlisted and commissioned service including the Vietnam War, I have serious concerns about the present and future of the Republic for which many of my friends and their families sacrificed and some gave their lives. Therefore, I am extremely interested in who becomes our next President. Those of us who served, and especially those who served in combat, know that the choice of a Commander-in-Chief is a matter of life or death for all those in uniform.

Tragically, unwise decisions by President Obama during his two-terms in office have resulted in the loss of many lives and will cost lives and cause untold suffering far into the future.

I don’t know who, if anyone is advising Donald Trump on national defense, however his teleprompter speech on foreign policy contained a lot of common sense and more than a little sound military strategy.

You never commit American troops to war unless it is clearly in the national interest and there is no acceptable alternative.

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