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Put vets in office, 74 percent say in Robert Morris poll

| Sunday, May 25, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Congress might be better off if more veterans served in office, a poll suggests.

Although fewer than one in five people — just 18.6 percent — have a favorable opinion of the polarized Congress, 86 percent favorably regard the U.S. military, according to the survey by Robert Morris University Polling Institute, which Trib Total Media sponsors.

Nearly three-quarters of Americans — 74.3 percent — think the country would be better off if more veterans ran for office, the poll says.

Many employers seem to think their companies would do better with more veterans. About 60 percent of survey respondents who are in a position to hire employees, or have an input in hiring decisions, say they'd give preference to a veteran if considering two similarly qualified job candidates.

“RMU veterans have indicated that they are well-treated in the community, not only by private citizens but by businesses,” said Dan Rota, a retired brigadier general in the Pennsylvania Air National Guard who directs the Veterans Education and Training Services Center at Robert Morris.

Rota said a number of veteran-hiring programs exist, something that was almost unheard of during the Vietnam War era and before. He cited Hire Heroes USA, Steel City Vets and Boots to Business as examples.

Several of the region's major employers visit Robert Morris' veterans center in search of candidates, he said.

That makes sense, Rota said.

“Veterans have a lot to offer. They have self-discipline, they show up to work on time, they're a bit more mature, and are experienced with responsibility and working in teams,” Rota said, noting 235 veterans enrolled at Robert Morris had a combined 3.23 grade point average this year.

Among other findings, 90.1 percent of those polled said they consider service members to be heroes, and 81.1 percent said seeing military men and women in public evokes emotion.

About 88.7 percent said they think the United States doesn't do enough for families of troops who die in action, and 81.3 percent think the nation provides inadequate health care to veterans, particularly for mental health.

The nationwide poll surveyed 1,004 people, proportional to state populations. It had an error margin of 3 percentage points.

Tom Fontaine is a Trib Total Media staff writer.

each him at 412-320-7847 or tfontaine@tribweb.com.

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