Majority of Veterans Approve of Trump, AP Poll Says

Most military veterans have positive views of President Donald Trump and his job performance, signaling continued support for the man who vowed during his 2016 presidential campaign to fix the problems plaguing veterans.

Overall, 56 percent of veterans—both current and former service members—approve of Trump’s performance as president, while 43 percent disapprove, according to a nationwide Associated Press survey of over 115,000 midterm voters, including over 4,000 current and former service members.

Continuing on that trend, nearly 6 in 10 military veterans voted for Republican candidates during the November midterm elections.

Strong Support

The survey found that on specific issues such as border security, veterans were significantly more likely than those who have not served to approve of Trump’s handling of border security, 62 percent to 48 percent.

Fifty-one percent of veterans also believe the Trump administration has made the country safer from terrorism. The majority of current service members, 59 percent, said Trump was a strong leader. The president acknowledged the poll’s results on Twitter, thanking his veteran base.

In September, Trump signed appropriations legislation that provided $86.5 billion in funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), a historic boost for the department and the largest dollar amount in the history of the agency. The majority of that funding—$73.1 billion—was for the medical care of seven million patients, among other services.

“It is our sacred duty to support America’s Service Members every single day they wear the uniform—and every day after, when they return home as Veterans,” Trump said at a speech in November. “Together we will HONOR those who defend us, we will CHERISH those who protect us, and we will celebrate the amazing heroes.”

Last year Trump, in another sign of his commitment to veterans, signed the Veterans Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act that would protect whistleblowers and gives the department more authority to remove certain employees or senior executives for misconduct or performance reasons.

As of November, Trump had removed over 3,600 government employees who have mistreated veterans, since his inauguration.

The survey found that the difference in support for Trump between veterans and nonveterans extended across racial and ethnic groups, including among whites (62 percent of veterans approve versus 49 percent of nonveterans), Latinos (53 percent versus 28 percent) and African-Americans (22 percent versus 10 percent).

Meanwhile, 58 percent of female veterans, a growing demographic in the military, disapproved of Trump.

Growing Impact

Veterans themselves had good success running for Congress compared to previous years. Eighteen new veterans were elected to the House, seven of whom are Democrats.

That’s the largest number of new veterans elected to the House since 2010, and the biggest influx of Democratic vets since 1996, according to Seth Lynn, a University of San Francisco professor who runs Veterans Campaign, a group that prepares veterans for careers in politics. One fresh veteran face, Republican Rick Scott of Florida, will join the Senate.

In all, more than 170 veterans were on November’s congressional ballot as major-party candidates. Some vets, such as Kentucky Democrat Amy McGrath, a former Marine fighter pilot, ran close House races but ultimately fell short on Election Day.

A total of 96 military veterans will serve as lawmakers next year—66 Republicans and 30 Democrats.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.