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“The nature of the military experience is it forces you into international thinking,” he said. “I get occasionally troubled by the thinking of some [members of Congress] where nothing matters outside their own district.”

Some veterans organizations are also concerned that a Congress with fewer veterans could make it more difficult to enact laws meeting the needs of the military community.

“Former military have been central to veteran affairs because they empathize with the point of view,” said Craig Roberts, a spokesman for the American Legion, the largest veterans organization in the country. “Whether we will have enough sympathizers in the future — it’s something that’s in the back of our mind.”

A shift in 2008

The election of Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden four years ago marked the first time in 68 years that two running mates without any military service have held the highest offices in the land. The last ones were Roosevelt and Vice President Henry A. Wallace in 1940.

Prior to the 2008 election, 10 out of 11 presidents had served in some branch of the armed services, and in each of the 1972, 1976 and 1980 elections, all four presidential and vice-presidential nominees had military backgrounds.

Still, Mr. Obama has repeatedly listed veterans as a priority of his administration, pushing for additional protection for active and former service members after the recession.

In February, Mr. Obama proposed a 10 percent increase in funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs in response to the growing number of soldiers who have returned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

As a result, some contend that less military experience among officeholders will not translate into less concern for those who served.

John Strock, an Army veteran of more than 30 years who re-enlisted as a reservist last year, said he doesn’t consider fewer veterans in government to be much of a problem.

“Of course, I would prefer a president that has military experience — that’s common sense,” Mr. Strock said after attending a congressional hearing on veterans’ benefits last week. “But the fact that officials didn’t serve shouldn’t preclude them from caring. Everybody has to think like they’re a veteran.”

Percentages drop

Former military members comprise about 22 percent of Congress, compared with roughly 31 percent a decade ago. Throughout the 1970s, that percentage bordered on 80 percent, and at least half of members had some military experience as recently as 1992.

The lower percentage of veterans reflects a trend in the overall population: Since 1975, active military personnel have accounted for less than 1 percent of the population. During Word War II, that percentage was 9 percent of the population.

James Jay Carafano, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies, said the potential absence of a military veteran on the two presidential tickets this year is more an “accident of history and demographics” than a sign of something larger in the culture.

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