When it comes to ensuring regulations, laws and policies at both state and federal levels adequately support veterans, it helps to have more military representation throughout agencies. While anyone can help vets programs along, the experience that comes from serving is unique, and this is a useful perspective to tap into. Today, veterans of the post-9/11 conflicts in the Middle East are re-entering the workforce at home in great numbers, giving public sector agencies a talented pool of potential young employees to draw from. The views of people who have spent the past few years as service members can help guide the conversation around veteran-friendly policymaking.

Congressional staff numbers still low
Lawmakers themselves aren't the only ones setting the agenda in Congress. According to Military Times, Capitol staff working group HillVets wants more veterans to find work as policy team members, helping senators and representatives decide on courses of action. As of now, less than 1 percent of policy staffers are veterans.

Including roles beyond policymaking, there are over 3,000 employees in total serving members of Congress at any time but at the moment, only 3 percent are veterans. This is a marked contrast with elected officials – the source explained that at least 102 veterans will serve in elected office next year. That includes 27 individuals who served in Iraq or Afghanistan.

"More representation could ensure that veteran-specific legislation is always a high priority."

​HillVets wants members of Congress to get their views on veterans issues directly from people with firsthand experience. That's why the group has encouraged each senator and representative to have at least one veteran on staff in a policy capacity. More representation could ensure that veteran-specific legislation is always a high priority and, when such laws do pass, they accurately reflect the actual needs of today's ex-military members.

The surprising part of low veteran employment numbers among congressional staff is that other businesses have made much steadier progress in stepping up veteran hiring. HillVets told Military Times that companies and communities at large have expressed praise for the veterans they have hired. Having someone with military experience on staff brings a new perspective and set of skills, and that could be just what Congress needs.

Congress is an outlier
Some of the groups that have been hiring veterans at a fast pace are right in the federal government, according to The Washington Post. The source explained that vet hiring has stayed steady for the past five years, with approximately 45 percent of new permanent roles going to individuals with military experience. With young people coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, there's no shortage of talented potential hires.

The news source specified that hiring rates differ widely between agencies. The 45 percent average doesn't tell the whole story, as some agencies are bringing in significantly more vets than that while others lag behind. In a promising development, disabled veterans seem to be receiving plenty of roles. Seven percent of federal full-time jobs went to disabled veterans in the 2015 fiscal year, making up 43 percent of veterans hired, according to The Washington Post. While institutions such as Congress have been slow to add vets to their teams, the overall pattern remains strong.