If you’ve left the service or are considering moving on – consider taking a tour in Congress as a staffer or just being an intern/fellow for a time. You never know if you’ll make some impact, randomly or by design. If you’re worried about the pay, there are several organizations and fellowships in the area that might be the fit for you. If not, it’s worth a conversation and argument with the Green Beret Foundation and prominent not-for-profits.
The fight isn’t over, and it’s as clear as ever that there’s a very real war, here at home for the future of our country. It’s a very different fight altogether. But nonetheless, I believe and wish there were more operators on the Hill. I could create a long list of reasons not to do it. But, if you’re leaving the military for a litany of reasons but still want to participate, again – consider politics.
Military people are passionate people, and SOF is very much so and aggressive. In my limited experience, but with open eyes, D.C. needs people who have life experience and understand service. A cultural problem on the Hill is that some who serve there believe that their service supersedes others. Senior military officers and corporate CEO’s visit congressional offices and often interact with a twenty-four-year-old. That level of exposure can shape an exciting, but different world view from many who have lived around the world and in war. If nothing else, very real opportunities could come of it in any one of those interactions.
More importantly, there’s a lack of ground truth. Ground truth that’s needed to determine if a program is necessary. Because often General Officers take to the hill to gain funding for a program. They’re advocating, sometimes, for their self-interest. Of course, at other times it’s a program and requirement that’s necessary.
There isn’t much turnover right now, yet. But, there will be after November. Besides, there’s always going to be jobs that open up. The Hill (thehill.com) detailed how low wages and long hours make many young staffers look for employment elsewhere. No, you won’t get rich on the hill, but it could get you there if you like it. More importantly, the staffers who can stay on the hill are resourced to do so, be it parental subsidy or otherwise.
It’s sad that fewer than 5% of Congressional Staffers are Veterans and in 2014, CNS News found it was less than 3%. Additionally, according to a survey by Hill Vets few offices on the hill hire Vets. Special Operators have the unique, rare ability to employ their skill sets to get things done. Veterans on the Hill are at a very low number, and the number is even lower for SOF. I don’t think an increased presence would change the political environment. But it would be nice if more folks on the Hill could fight to fund requirements and programs that the war fighters need. Because I don’t think we get what we need when we need it once it goes through the Pentagon and the political filter.