Rep. Pat Ryan Warns Low Military Participation Is “Deeply Problematic” For American Democracy

Rep. Pat Ryan (D-NY) expressed concern over the small percentage of Americans serving in the military, stating that the current situation, with less than 1% of the population as active-duty service members, is “deeply problematic as a democracy.” Speaking on “Face the Nation” ahead of Memorial Day, the veteran lawmaker emphasized the importance of bridging the gap between those who fight the nation’s wars and the rest of the population.

Ryan, alongside his colleague Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL), has been working to prioritize military recruitment in the annual defense bill, citing challenges faced by each branch of the armed forces in meeting their recruitment goals. The lawmakers have been pushing the Department of Defense to address this issue, and Ryan noted that their efforts are starting to yield positive results.

Both Ryan and Waltz, who are veterans themselves, participate in a bipartisan tradition of hand-washing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to mark Memorial Day. Waltz, who initiated the tradition, stressed the significance of lawmakers from various backgrounds coming together to honor their forefathers, despite their differences.

The representatives also advocated for increasing the number of veterans in Congress, believing that having more people who have served in the military or performed national service would better represent the American people. Waltz suggested that service to the country does not have to be limited to the military and proposed incentivizing young people to perform a year of service after graduation in exchange for benefits.

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