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Veterans Campaign


At Veterans Campaign we believe that our country’s veterans are a valuable yet untapped resource of potential elected leadership.

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Veterans Campaign


At Veterans Campaign we believe that our country’s veterans are a valuable yet untapped resource of potential elected leadership.

Mission & Vision

Veterans Campaign is the first ever non-partisan, non-ideological organization whose mission is to train veterans to run for public office. Our goal is to demystify the process of campaigning for public office and encourage more veterans to continue their legacy of public service as elected officials. To that end, Veterans Campaign holds campaign training workshops, sponsors lectures, and conducts research, all aimed at helping veterans learn more about the campaign process.

At Veterans Campaign we believe that our country’s veterans are a valuable yet untapped resource of potential elected leadership. Veterans possess many qualities our country needs in its public officials: outstanding leadership experience in the face of adversity, familiarity with a broad cross-section of American society, and an intimate understanding of the human consequences of Washington’s foreign policy decisions. Most importantly, Veterans have demonstrated their willingness to put America and its citizens before their own well-being. Today more than ever, our country needs more veterans in public office.

 

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The Need Veterans Campaign Meets


Veterans are well-prepared to lead, but not to campaign.

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The Need Veterans Campaign Meets


Veterans are well-prepared to lead, but not to campaign.

The Reason

The number of veterans serving in elected office has declined rapidly over the last forty years. In 1969, seventy-five percent of senators and congressmen had served in the military. By the beginning of the Afghanistan War, that number had dropped to fewer than one in three. Even more s triking, since 2001, the number has continued to decline steeply. Currently, just over one in five serving senators and congressmen has served.

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U.S. confidence in elected leaders has similarly decreased. This is likely due to ever-increasing partisanship, corruption, and inability to work together for the common good of the United States.

Veterans are a valuable yet untapped resource of superb elected leaders. Military veterans have outstanding leadership experience, have made difficult decisions under pressure, and have accomplished whatever America has asked of them, honorably. As one of the most diverse groups within the United States, they have consistently put their differences aside to work together for the common good. Most importantly, Veterans have demonstrated their willingness to put America and its citizens before their own well-being. We believe that by training Veterans to campaign effectively, more Veterans will run for and be elected to public office. Moreover, Veterans’ common bond of service has historically encouraged bipartisanship, cooperation, and better government.

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Americans of all ages have tremendous confidence in those who wear the uniform. Studies have shown that Americans have become increasingly confident in the men and women in uniform. Today, the military is the most respected institution in the United States. Eighty-two percent of Americans express confidence in our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. The confidence Americans have in the military looks likely to continue with the millennial generation (Americans between the ages of 18 and 29), according to a recent Harvard study. Although just two percent have served, millenials have more confidence in the military than they have in the President, the Supreme Court, Congress, the media, the United Nations, and Wall Street. The same study found that by a six to one margin, young Americans believe that politics has become too partisan. Given America’s decreasing satisfaction with congress and increasing confidence in those who wear the uniform, it follows that reversing the decline in the number of veterans serving in public office would increase Americans’ satisfaction with their elected leaders.

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Upcoming Distinguished Speaker Series Event:

SENATOR JOHNNY ISAKSON

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 from 6:30pm - 9:00pm

Veterans are well-prepared to lead, but not to campaign. Veterans face distinctive obstacles in elected politics. Despite bipartisan efforts to recruit veteran candidates, especially in the last three national elections, few non-incumbent veterans have been elected. The amount of time veterans have spent away form their districts while serving, the increasing cost of campaigning, and veterans’ general disillusionment with the political process are all obstacles to veterans who might otherwise make outstanding elected leaders. Veterans generally lack a fundraising base, community roots, and political knowledge and experience. Veterans Campaign’s goal is to demystify the process of running for office, and make it accessible to veterans who are interested in continuing their service as elected officials.

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History


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History


The Story

Veterans Campaign began with a conversation between Seth Lynn, then a captain in the Marine Corps, and some senior officers, when one of the officers lamented that in the past, more politicians had served in the military. The conversation made an impact on Seth, who subsequently left active duty to study public policy at Princeton University. During his first year, Seth heard about a Rutgers University program that trained women to run for office. Later, as the only male to attend the Ready to Run workshop, Seth was impressed by the women he met at Rutgers, and inspired by the idea that many qualified participants would be more likely to be elected due to the workshop’s training.

Seth talked with his former commanding officer, Michael Hunzeker, who was by then a Princeton doctoral candidate, and the two decided to found the student organization that would become Veterans Campaign. Although neither had any experience in politics, they found that they were surrounded by people who had tremendous knowledge and experience. While there were few other veterans at Princeton, many of their fellow students were nevertheless excited about the idea of a training program for veteran candidates. The group began meeting weekly and subsequently reached out to two visiting Princeton faculty members who were former congressmen. The congressmen agreed to help, and convinced the Princeton administration to support the initiative. The Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School, Anne Marie Slaughter, understood the importance of what the students were trying to do, and agreed to fund the first workshop.

The members of the group began reaching out to veteran politicians, members of veteran-focused political action committees, and staffers who had worked for veterans, in an effort to plan an effective workshop. Two members of the group who had significant campaign experience, Eric Melancon and Doug Palmer, began designing a curriculum based on what veteran candidates should know before beginning their campaigns. This curriculum eventually grew into the Candidate’s Field Manual, a unique, 100-page long guidebook for veteran candidates. Meanwhile, news of the workshop spread quickly, and the initial limit of 50 participants was raised to 75.

On September 12-13, 2009, Veterans Campaign held its first workshop, which was unanimously considered a resounding success. Congressman James Marshall of Georgia and Medal of Honor recipient Colonel Jack Jacobs gave keynote speeches, numerous panelists provided valuable information, and post-workshop testimonials demonstrated enormous enthusiasm from all of the participants.

Not long after the first workshop, Seth met with representatives of The George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management. They decided to work together to hold a second workshop at The George Washington University on April 24th, 2010. The second workshop trained 100 veterans and was once again received with huge enthusiasm by those involved.

The George Washington University subsequently invited Veterans Campaign to make a more permanent home at the university, and agreed to provide assistance in terms of seed money, office space, and administrative support.

Veterans Campaign is now based out of The George Washington University, and is in the midst of planning future training workshops, a distinguished speaker series, research and analysis, online training, and a fellowship program for student veterans.