Military Veterans in State Legislatures for 2021

6/17/2021

Thank you veterans on dog tags against US flag.

Introduction 

An NCSL analysis conducted after the 2020 elections identified at least 911 military veterans currently serving in the legislatures of the 50 states and five U.S. territories. These veterans make up 12.24% of the 7,383 state legislators nationwide. Veteran legislators represent every branch of the military and the National Guard as they bring their training, commitment and leadership skills to state government.

The dedication of these legislators who pursued elective office in the states, concurrent with or following military service, is an example to many as the true meaning of public service. Military families are very much appreciated as well since they are vital support systems for all those service members and veterans who dedicate themselves to serving the nation.

The number of veterans in legislatures may have declined slightly since the last election cycle. Based on information compiled in 2016 by the American Enterprise Institute, 1,040 state legislators had military experience in 2016, representing 14% of all legislative members. The post-2020 NCSL figures reflect a slight decline in both numbers and percentages.

By chamber in 2021, House members include 658 veterans, while Senate members consist of 253 veterans. These numbers were 780 and 260, respectively, in 2016, according to AEI.

New Hampshire has the largest number of legislators (424) and the largest number of veterans, with 72 members having served in the military. After New Hampshire, the states with the most veterans serving as legislators are Georgia (34), Missouri (30) and Pennsylvania (27). States with 15% or more veterans in the legislature include Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and Wyoming. 

At least 162 state legislators currently serve in the National Guard, which consists of the Army National Guard and the Air Force’s Air National Guard. While federally funded, the National Guard is organized and controlled by the states. Another 122 state legislators are members of Reserve units of various branches of the U.S. military. A prior compilation by NCSL in 2010 found that 63 state legislators served then in Reserve units or National Guard units.

Rep. Mari Leavitt“As a daughter of a Vietnam War veteran and granddaughter of a WWII and Korean War pilot, I know the sacrifices our veterans and their families make for our country. Because I value and respect their service, it is my priority to support our military families and ensure that our communities have critical infrastructure and resources for service members and their families to succeed, from strong schools and affordable housing to smooth transitions for spouses to get employment and support for those who are struggling.” —Washington Representative Mari Leavitt (D)

Rep. Adam Miller, Ohio“Serving as a state legislator is a natural progression from military service. The freedoms and values we defend overseas are carried out at the state level. We send a loud message to young democracies when we show them the rule of law, democratic institutions, and that our freedoms are carried out as the Founders intended. Ultimately, global leadership and service at the state level are two sides of the same coin.” —Ohio Representative Adam Miller (D)

Military Veterans in State Legislatures

NOTE: Research is subject to human error and may reflect discrepancies due to legislative vacancies. Information is subject to change throughout the year due to resignations, appointments and special elections.

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Longer descriptiont than title Military Veterans in State Legislatures AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MO MS MT NE NV NH NY NJ NM NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY DC AS GU MP PR VI
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

State Map

Click on a state to see the number of veterans in both chambers.
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Alabama

SENATE HOUSE
5 17
Total: 22 Veteran Legislators = 15.71%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Alaska

SENATE HOUSE
4 6
Total: 10 Veteran Legislators = 16.67%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

American Samoa

SENATE HOUSE
0 0
Total: 0 Veteran Legislators = 0%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Arizona

SENATE HOUSE
5 8
Total: 13 Veteran Legislators = 14.44%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Arkansas

SENATE HOUSE
3 9
Total: 12 Veteran Legislators = 8.89%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

California

SENATE HOUSE
7 2
Total: 9 Veteran Legislators = 7.50%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Colorado

SENATE HOUSE
4 9
Total: 13 Veteran Legislators = 13.00%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Connecticut

SENATE HOUSE
4 10
Total: 14 Veteran Legislators = 7.49%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

District of Columbia

SENATE HOUSE
0 0
Total: 0 Veteran Legislators = 0%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Delaware

SENATE HOUSE
4 3
Total: 7 Veteran Legislators = 11.29%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Florida

SENATE HOUSE
3 20
Total: 23 Veteran Legislators = 14.38%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Georgia

SENATE HOUSE
11 23
Total: 34 Veteran Legislators = 14.41%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Guam

SENATE HOUSE
2 0
Total: 2 Veteran Legislators = 13.33%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Hawaii

SENATE HOUSE
2 6
Total: 8 Veteran Legislators = 10.53%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Idaho

SENATE HOUSE
6 15
Total: 21 Veteran Legislators = 20.00%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Illinois

SENATE HOUSE
8 9
Total: 17 Veteran Legislators = 9.60%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Indiana

SENATE HOUSE
9 11
Total: 20 Veteran Legislators = 13.33%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Iowa

SENATE HOUSE
6 14
Total: 20 Veteran Legislators = 13.33%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Kansas

SENATE HOUSE
2 19
Total: 21 Veteran Legislators = 12.73%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Kentucky

SENATE HOUSE
3 11
Total: 14 Veteran Legislators = 10.14%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Louisiana

SENATE HOUSE
3 4
Total: 7 Veteran Legislators = 4.86%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Maine

SENATE HOUSE
2 16
Total: 18 Veteran Legislators = 9.68%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Maryland

SENATE HOUSE
8 16
Total: 24 Veteran Legislators = 12.77%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Massachusetts

SENATE HOUSE
3 10
Total: 13 Veteran Legislators = 6.50%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Michigan

SENATE HOUSE
5 12
Total: 17 Veteran Legislators = 11.49%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Minnesota

SENATE HOUSE
7 13
Total: 20 Veteran Legislators = 9.95%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Mississippi

SENATE HOUSE
3 12
Total: 15 Veteran Legislators = 8.62%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Missouri

SENATE HOUSE
4 26
Total: 30 Veteran Legislators = 15.23%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Montana

SENATE HOUSE
7 17
Total: 24 Veteran Legislators = 16.00%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Nebraska

SENATE HOUSE
  3
Total: 3 Veteran Legislators = 6.12%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Nevada

SENATE HOUSE
2 5
Total: 7 Veteran Legislators = 11.11%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

New Hampshire

SENATE HOUSE
6 66
Total: 72 Veteran Legislators = 16.98%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

New York

SENATE HOUSE
4 19
Total: 23 Veteran Legislators = 10.80%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

New Jersey

SENATE HOUSE
6 9
Total: 15 Veteran Legislators = 12.50%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

New Mexico

SENATE HOUSE
4 3
Total: 7 Veteran Legislators = 6.25%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

North Carolina

SENATE HOUSE
7 17
Total: 24 Veteran Legislators = 14.12%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

North Dakota

SENATE HOUSE
9 17
Total: 26 Veteran Legislators = 18.44%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Ohio

SENATE HOUSE
6 15
Total: 21 Veteran Legislators = 15.91%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Oklahoma

SENATE HOUSE
8 10
Total: 18 Veteran Legislators = 12.08%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Oregon

SENATE HOUSE
4 6
Total: 10 Veteran Legislators = 11.11%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Pennsylvania

SENATE HOUSE
4 23
Total: 27 Veteran Legislators = 10.67%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Puerto Rico

SENATE HOUSE
1 2
Total: 3 Veteran Legislators = 3.85%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Rhode Island

SENATE HOUSE
2 9
Total: 11 Veteran Legislators = 9.73%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

South Carolina

SENATE HOUSE
5 20
Total: 25 Veteran Legislators = 14.71%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

South Dakota

SENATE HOUSE
4 5
Total: 9 Veteran Legislators = 8.57%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Tennessee

SENATE HOUSE
4 15
Total: 19 Veteran Legislators = 14.39%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Texas

SENATE HOUSE
4 17
Total: 21 Veteran Legislators = 11.60%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Utah

SENATE HOUSE
0 4
Total: 4 Veteran Legislators = 3.85%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Vermont

SENATE HOUSE
2 19
Total: 21 Veteran Legislators = 11.67%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Virginia

SENATE HOUSE
11 15
Total: 26 Veteran Legislators = 18.57%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Washington

SENATE HOUSE
6 13
Total: 19 Veteran Legislators = 12.93%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Virgin Islands

SENATE HOUSE
2 0
Total: 22 Veteran Legislators = 13.33%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Northern Marianas

SENATE HOUSE
0 0
Total: 0 Veteran Legislators = 0%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

West Virgina

SENATE HOUSE
4 13
Total: 17 Veteran Legislators = 12.69%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Wisconsin

SENATE HOUSE
7 9
Total: 16 Veteran Legislators = 12.12%
VETERAN LEGISLATORS:
  1-7%
  8-11%
  12-15%
  16%+

Wyoming

SENATE HOUSE
8 9
Total: 17 Veteran Legislators = 18.89%
 

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Military Veteran Legislators Serving in the 50 States | 2021
State Number of Military Veterans in the House/Assembly Number of Military Veterans in the Senate Total Number of Veterans  Legislators Total Seats in the Legislature Percentage of Veterans in the Legislature
Alabama 17 5 22 140 15.71%
Alaska 6 4 10 60 16.67%
Arizona 8 5 13 90 14.44%
Arkansas 9 3 12 135 8.89%
California 2 7 9 120 7.50%
Colorado 9 4 13 100 13.00%
Connecticut 10 4 14 187 7.49%
Delaware 3 4 7 62 11.29%
District of Columbia 0 0 0 13 0.00%
Florida 20 3 23 160 14.38%
Georgia 23 11 34 236 14.41%
Hawaii 6 2 8 76 10.53%
Idaho 15 6 21 105 20.00%
Illinois 9 8 17 177 9.60%
Indiana 11 9 20 150 13.33%
Iowa 14 6 20 150 13.33%
Kansas 19 2 21 165 12.73%
Kentucky 11 3 14 138 10.14%
Louisiana 4 3 7 144 4.86%
Maine 16 2 18 186 9.68%
Maryland 16 8 24 188 12.77%
Massachusetts 10 3 13 200 6.50%
Michigan 12 5 17 148 11.49%
Minnesota 13 7 20 201 9.95%
Mississippi 12 3 15 174 8.62%
Missouri 26 4 30 197 15.23%
Montana 17 7 24 150 16.00%
Nebraska   3 3 49 6.12%
Nevada 5 2 7 63 11.11%
New Hampshire 66 6 72 424 16.98%
New Jersey 9 6 15 120 12.50%
New Mexico 3 4 7 112 6.25%
New York 19 4 23 213 10.80%
North Carolina 17 7 24 170 14.12%
North Dakota 17 9 26 141 18.44%
Ohio 15 6 21 132 15.91%
Oklahoma 10 8 18 149 12.08%
Oregon 6 4 10 90 11.11%
Pennsylvania 23 4 27 253 10.67%
Rhode Island 9 2 11 113 9.73%
South Carolina 20 5 25 170 14.71%
South Dakota 5 4 9 105 8.57%
Tennessee 15 4 19 132 14.39%
Texas 17 4 21 181 11.60%
Utah 4 0 4 104 3.85%
Vermont 19 2 21 180 11.67%
Virginia 15 11 26 140 18.57%
Washington 13 6 19 147 12.93%
West Virginia 13 4 17 134 12.69%
Wisconsin 9 7 16 132 12.12%
Wyoming 9 8 17 90 18.89%
Sub-total 656 248 904 7,383 12.24%
Guam 0 2 2 15 13.33%
American Samoa 0 0 0 39 0
Northern Mariana Islands 0 0 0 29 0
Puerto Rico 2 1 3 78 3.85%
Virgin Islands 0 2 2 15 13.33%
Total 658 253 911 7,559 12.05%

 

Partisan Composition of Military Veteran Legislators in the 50 State Legislatures and Five U.S. Territories | 2021
Republicans     646
Democrats 259
Nonpartisan (Nebraska) 3
Third-party 3
Total 911

NCSL Task Force on Military and Veterans Affairs

NCSL Military Task Force at meeting July 2018.

The NCSL Task Force on Military and Veterans Affairs allows state legislators and legislative staff to share best practices and innovations to assist military service members and veterans in their states. It coordinates closely with the U.S. Department of Defense, working with nearby military installations to bring sound state policy options to sustain them. Meetings take place over two days, one day for policy discussion and another to visit nearby military installations. 

Photo: A December 2018 NCSL task force meeting with Pentagon officials including former Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson.