Running for public office is a serious commitment for any individual. The amount of time, energy, money and other resources required to run a successful campaign can be exhausting and can lead to bitter disappointment if the campaign is not a success, but it can also lead to the greatest excitement when the campaign is successful.
So why do it? Most would say that a desire to better their community and to serve their country is one of the biggest motivators to run for office. The chance to make a difference is motivation enough for many. This includes veterans, who have often found a “second service” home in elected office. Even at the local level, public servants play a large role in improving the community and providing a better, safer place to live and work.
Why Veterans Make Great Candidates
So why do veterans make such strong political candidates? There are a variety of reasons, but what it comes down to is this: those who have served in the military have a strong sense of commitment to their country and a desire to make a difference. Those alone are factors that make veterans particularly strong candidates for public office.
1. Veterans Have Extensive Leadership Experience
As a military service member moves up in rank, his or her responsibilities grow. This responsibility translates into leadership skills with real application in the workplace. In the military, depending on one’s job duties, this leadership can mean that one individual is responsible for the safety of many others. This experience transfers well into a public office in which an elected official is tasked with making decisions for the good of his or her constituents. Elected officials must be decisive and confident in their ability to lead.
2. An Expanded Worldview Provides Perspective
Many senior elected officials throughout the history of the United States have had military experience. This perspective lends itself well to knowing how foreign policy and military spending, for example, affect others. Veterans often have an expanded worldview thanks to years in the service and/or on deployment. For most citizens, this is something that cannot be replicated, and that experience is invaluable in even local positions.
After all, perspective is everything. A veteran and all of his or her experience may be a pragmatic and fair leader, having seen more than most citizens will ever have to.
3. Veterans Have a Strong Sense of Patriotism and Loyalty
Patriotism is one factor that often prompts a person to enlist in the military in the first place. This loyalty and love for the country serves an elected official well and keeps them focused on the betterment of their community. A politician who is self-serving will not usually be as successful as one who enters into office with the intent to honorably serve and give back to their community.
4. Veterans Are Honest and Respectful
Some of the core values associated with military service are honesty, integrity, and respect. These values often go missing in politics, making their presence even more meaningful. After serving in the military in which respect and honor is driven home in every interaction, a veteran may find that he or she commands a higher degree of respect from constituents. This level of respect and the integrity with which the veteran conducts him or herself is material to make a great, well-respected politician.
Politics are not for everyone, and they certainly aren’t necessarily the best fit for each and every veteran. However, many qualities that veterans possess transfer well into a career in politics, which is why veterans make great candidates and often become the best politicians and representatives in office.
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