Republican Reps. helped launch the War Veterans Fund PAC on Wednesday, part of a push to elect more veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2020. Speaking at the Republican National Convention headquarters, Dan Crenshaw (Texas), Mike Gallagher (Wis.), and Michael Waltz (Fla.) urged Republicans veterans wishing to continue their service to consider a run for Congress.
"We need more veterans in Congress," Waltz said. "We have gone from record highs in the 1980s, when about 80 percent were veterans in the House of Representatives and the Senate to the lowest numbers today in our nations history, with about 15 to 18 percent. We are looking to change that."
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Waltz said the ethos of veterans is one of service and commitment to country, which in Congress, can help reach across partisan lines.
"On the ship, on the plane, and in the foxhole, it's not about race, religion, economic background. It's about a vision and accomplishing that vision for your country," he said.
In addition to bankrolling veteran runs, the War Veterans Fund will help veterans raise their electoral profile through a Republican-supported framework, Waltz said. Crenshaw reiterated Waltz's call to action, adding that for him—and many other veterans—service in Congress has functioned as a continuation of patriotic duty when military service is no longer possible.
"We are looking for candidates who served their country overseas and are now ready to serve it again. We want to help elect more veterans because they are natural leaders, problem solvers, and patriots," he said.
PAC Coordinator Edward Crawford said he is beginning efforts immediately to recruiting Republican veterans for Congress.
"The War Veterans Fund is committed to recruiting, supporting, and electing Republican veterans to Congress," he said in a statement. "It is time for a new generation of leaders who have been tested in service to our country to lead the Republican Party. Now more than ever we need qualified, respected leaders in Washington, D.C. to help lead our nation."
Crenshaw also urged Republicans to emulate Democratic pushes to support young veterans in the 2018 midterm elections, efforts which helped secure the election of Democrats such as Jason Crow (D., Col.) and Chrissy Houlahan (D., Penn.) to formerly Republican seats.
"They actually tried," he said, telling Republicans to do the same in 2020.