In 1969, 75 percent of senators and congressmen had served in the military, but by the beginning of the Afghanistan War, that number dropped to less than one in three. To combat the waning number of military veterans running for public office, officials from the Veterans Campaign and University of San Francisco are teaming up to offer a new veteran-focused degree program in public leadership designed to prepare former military members for a life in political office.
In a report from the Military Times, the two-year Master’s degree curriculum will combine lessons and the curriculums of both institutions to help would-be candidates with experience in the military and build their campaign and organization skills. The program, which begins fall 2018, has a few notable alumni including Democratic California State Senator Josh Newman and former Navy Seal Republican Congressman Scott Taylor (VA-2).
Although the program will be open to both veterans and non-military members, it will have a military-themed aspect with guest speakers boasting lengthy military backgrounds. The program will showcase networking with veterans in the political realm and feature instructors with deep knowledge of certain challenges an advantages that veterans face when running for office.
One of the faculty members from the program is Patrick Murphy, former acting Secretary of the Army and the first Iraq War veteran elected to Congress, back in 2006.
Officials from HillVets, a bipartisan group of veterans, service members, and supporters, say the lack of military experience among those in influential and elected posts hurts public debate on defense and veterans issues.
Seth Lynn, the administrative director of the program and founder of the Veterans Campaign says, “Veterans learn what it takes to be a leader in the military, and they often enter civilian life with a drive to continue leading others.”
“Going from being a leader at home or overseas to being a public leader takes a new kind of training. (This program) gives veterans, service members and others who want to keep serving the tools and skills needed to take the next steps.”
Program directors have a hope that the two-year curriculum will help ease entry into the political world. They say that members of the military are, “a valuable, yet largely untapped, source of civic and political leaders.”
The courses, offered online and with periodic in-person seminars on the East and West Coasts, will focus on the election process, community organizing, and civic management roles. Furthermore, classes will feature “a variety of professional settings outside politics” for public service.
Additional information on the Master’s degree program is available at the Veterans Campaign website.