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As election day draws near, it's worth noting that greater percentage of vets vote than civilians

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald answers a question during a Sirius XM studio interview in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016. Joining McDonald in the panel discussion were Janaia DeShields, Points of Light vice president of veteran and military programs; Bill Rausch, executive director of the Got Your 6 organization; and show host Jared Rizzi, at left.

CARLOS BONGIOANNI/STARS AND STRIPES

By NIKKI WENTLING | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 29, 2016

WASHINGTON — More veterans vote, volunteer and attend public meetings than nonveterans, according to a report released Thursday on veterans’ civic engagement.

According to the report, called the “Veterans Civic Health Index,” 73.8 percent of veterans reported they vote in local elections compared to 57.2 percent of civilians. The report, which used data from the U.S. Census Bureau, was co-sponsored by Got Your 6, a veterans advocacy group that works to challenge a negative notion of “broken” veterans.

“That’s a huge margin,” said Julia Tivald, with Got Your 6. “That data is particularly important to us this year, as we try to engage everyone in the election cycle. We can use the statistic to challenge people to meet veterans’ level of engagement.”

The numbers are lower for younger people, which the report defined as people ages 20 to 49. About 60 percent of young veterans reported voting in local elections, compared to 48.7 percent of young civilians.

Slightly more veterans than civilians volunteered – 26.3 percent compared to 25.5 percent. Eleven percent of veterans reported attending public meetings, while 8.2 percent of civilians did, the report showed. The report also claims veterans, which account for about 9 percent of the adult population – or 21.8 million people -- work with their neighbors to address community problems more than civilians do.

Link to the Veterans Civic Health Index report:

Army veteran Bill Rausch, executive director of Got Your 6, called on veterans to be leaders in their communities and help tackle nationwide issues, such as the ongoing tensions between police throughout the country and the African-American community.

“We have a unique opportunity to empower veterans to lead a resurgence of community,” Rausch said Thursday. “I propose veterans can be part of the solution. And what better issue to start with, because there’s not a more difficult one. We really have to focus at the community level because that’s where these things happen, and that’s where issues are solved.”

This is the second year that Got Your 6 and the National Conference on Citizenship have teamed up to produce the report. It was concluded in both reports that veterans were more civically engaged.

Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald said it’s probably because people who join the military possess “a sense of wanting to be part of something bigger than ourselves.”

“All of us feel somewhat inadequate, and it continues to this day, because we served with people who gave the ultimate sacrifice,” said McDonald, who is an Army veteran. “We are all motivated with this sense of purpose over time because we have never done enough and will never do enough.”

wentling.nikki@stripes.com
Twitter: @nikkiwentling

 

Bill Rausch, executive director of the Got Your 6 organization, discusses various veterans issues during a Sirius XM studio panel discussion in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, as show host Jared Rizzi, left, listens.
CARLOS BONGIOANNI/STARS AND STRIPES

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