By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
These are the same characteristics that make
’s men and women in uniform one of the country’s most-trusted groups, polls consistently show, and why a nonprofit educational organization is encouraging more military veterans to consider running for public office. America
Veterans Campaign teaches veterans how to run for federal, state or local office, Seth Lynn, a Marine Corps Reserve captain who serves as its executive director, said in an interview with American Forces Press Service.
The group has no political or ideological agenda, he emphasized. Its goal simply is to demystify the political campaigning process so the country can benefit from what he called a largely untapped source of “phenomenal leaders.”
“Military service is terrific preparation for being an elected leader,”
said. It puts people in situations where success demands an ability “to put aside your differences with a group of incredibly diverse people with different backgrounds and opinions and from different parts of the country … and to do what’s best for the country.” Lynn
And veterans, particularly those who have served in combat, clearly recognize that “the enemy is the guy at the end of the battlefield, not the guy on the other side of the aisle,”
The Hatch Act establishes clear lines about what military members can and can’t do when it comes to partisan politics. They’re encouraged to vote, but are banned from soliciting or receiving political contributions or engaging in political activity while on duty, in a government office or while wearing a military uniform.
The result is that many veterans don’t know what’s involved in actually running for office.
“You have this great leadership experience, but at the same time, little campaign knowledge,”
said. “That is where Veterans Campaign is trying to bridge the gap, to take this group of people who would make outstanding elected leaders but don’t really know much about actually getting there, and giving that extra step they need to become that next generation of outstanding leaders.” Lynn
In many respects, the military is a self-selected group that has proven its willingness “to volunteer and go risk their lives for the
,” United States said. Lynn
“And that is a terrific group of people you would want to have as leaders,” he added. “And we are beginning to see that
recognizes that and wants those type of people to be elected leaders.” America
Lynn, a 2002 U.S. Naval Academy graduate who has deployed twice to
and once to Iraq Okinawa, came up with the concept of Veterans Campaign two years ago at a workshop for women considering running for public office. Princeton University
helped to organize the first Veterans Campaign workshop at Lynn Princeton, followed by subsequent workshops after the organization became affiliated with here. George Washington University
The next workshop is slated for Feb. 11 and 12 at
. It will include discussions about how veterans fared during the recent elections, with several Congress members with military service sharing their own experiences, George Washington University said. Another presentation will help participants “bulletproof their service record” to identify inaccuracies or inconsistencies that could hurt them at election time, he said. Lynn
The second day of training will be a “campaign boot camp” that focuses on nuts and bolts of running for office, such as how to start and finance a campaign and how to deal with the media, he said.
While lamenting the small percentage of Congress members with military experience – the lowest since World War II –
said he sees change in the wind, thanks, in part, to Veterans Campaign. Lynn
“We have some incredibly talented young people who are thinking about possibly running someday,” he said. “It may take a few more [election] cycles for them to start running, but we hope to see an uptick in that.”
said, having more veterans in elected office will benefit the whole country. Lynn
“You really do have people who have a code of ethics that allows them to put the country before themselves,” he said. “Everybody on all sides of the political spectrum believes we need more of that in
right now. Washington
“At the same time, we have a huge amount of potential for phenomenal elected leaders that we are not tapping into as much as we could,” he continued. “And we will have a much better situation in our government when we utilize and tap into this resource of phenomenal leaders.”