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Many vets are running in this year's primaries


Polls are open right now in primary elections across Virginia, and many of the candidates on the ballot are military veterans.

In the 7th Congressional District, centered in Prince William County, Democrats and Republicans who’ve raised the most amount of money – they’re all veterans. Same thing in the neighboring 10th Congressional District in Loudoun County, where a bumper crop of candidates is vying for attention.

"I think if you look historically, in the 1970s over 70% of Congress had service backgrounds," says Emily Cherniak at New Politics Leadership Academy. "And currently, there's less than 20% of Congress with veterans in office. So, I think we’re at the lowest point in history, so it's really encouraging."

David Ramadan is a former Republican delegate who’s now at the Schar School at George Mason University.

"Veterans often possess strong leadership skills, discipline and commitment to public service. And their military experience may provide them with unique perspectives on national issues such as security and defense thus giving them an edge for congressional races," he says. "However, that alone is not enough to win elections, especially in crowded primaries."

And the primaries are crowded. The 7th Congressional District has seven Democrats and six Republicans. And the 10th Congressional District features 12 Democrats and four Republicans.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.