Concerned Veterans for America 2020 Online National Survey
Bottom Line: Across the board, veterans and their households support reductions in U.S. military and financial involvement overseas, and efforts to improve health care and other services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
From April 7-10, 2020, Concerned Veterans of America conducted an online survey of more than 700 military veterans and more than 800 of their family members. The survey questions were largely similar to those from a 2019 CVA survey, and dealt primarily with U.S. foreign policy and treatment of veterans. The survey results shed light into the political leanings of America’s veterans, which issues matter most to them, and how they differ from civilian relatives.
Just over half of veterans believe that “generally speaking...things in the country [have] gotten off on the wrong track,” the same proportion as the year prior. Interestingly, the percentage of veterans’ households who said the country had gotten off on the wrong track rose from 51 percent to 55 percent from 2019 to 2020. Veterans are now more likely than their relatives to say the country is going in the right direction.
This disjunction could be explained by the two groups’ differing perceptions of President Trump. The percentage of veterans who approve of the President (56 percent) remained steady over the past year, while the percentage of those who “strongly” approve of the President rose from 31 percent in 2019 to 34 percent in 2020. Only half of veterans’ households approved of the President’s performance in 2020, with just 29 percent strongly approving.
A slightly higher percentage of households approve of the President’s foreign policy specifically, but the percentage of veterans who approved of the President’s foreign policy performance remained the same across questions.
Broadly speaking, veterans oppose increased U.S. involvement overseas. Just 7 percent of veterans think the United States should be “more militarily engaged in conflicts around the world,” while 57 percent say the country should be less involved. The percentage of veterans who said the level of U.S. involvement should remain the same declined sharply from 43 percent in 2019 to 34 percent in 2020.
Households were more hawkish, with only 43 percent saying the country should be less involved and 11 percent favoring more involvement. Compared to veterans, households were also less likely to support a full withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, and felt less strongly about their position on withdrawals.
Nearly half of veterans support keeping U.S. military spending at its current levels, while 67 percent think the United States should decrease “spending on aid to foreign countries.” Households favor increased spending on both counts. The groups’ positions on government spending line up with their views on the national debt. Just over 70 percent of veterans think the national debt is a somewhat or extreme threat, compared to 68 percent of households who feel the same.
The disparities between veterans and their households continue on the home front, with just 38 percent of households rating “the overall quality of the benefits and services military veterans receive from the Department of Veterans Affairs” as excellent or good, compared to 44 percent of veterans. The split was almost identical when the groups were asked about VA health care, specifically.
Predictably, households are more likely than veterans to say VA healthcare has gotten worse over the past five years, though slight majorities in both groups agree that VA health care is “generally worse” than care most Americans receive. As a result, both groups agree that veterans should have the ability to use VA benefits at non-VA care centers, and think that the government does not provide enough funding to the VA overall.
Read the full survey here.
- In both 2019 and 2020, majorities of veterans agreed that the United States should be less involved in military conflicts around the world.
- The percentage of veterans who said this was almost 10 percentage points hire in 2020 (58 percent) than 2019 (49 percent).
- The increase in veterans who think the United States should be less involved comes from a year-to-year decrease in the number of veterans who think military engagement should remain the same (44 percent to 35 percent). The percentage of veterans who favor increased involvement has remained essentially stable.
Read the full survey here.