New Study Shows Veterans and Military Families Widely Seen as Role Models for Good Citizenship and Messengers to Move the Country Forward

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The Veterans and Citizens Initiative Report Reveals New Data on Civic Attitudes toward Veteran Community and Outlines Vision to Inspire Civic Engagement and Bridge National Divides

Military veterans and their families are among the most trusted voices in today’s highly polarized political and social landscape, according to a new report released today by The Veterans and Citizens Initiative (VCI). The report includes findings from a series of surveys conducted over the period of July 2020 - March 2021 that examined attitudes toward shared civic responsibilities, what Americans have in common, and how veterans and military families can best serve as messengers to overcome divides in our society.

According to the December 2020 survey, 61% of Americans agree that veterans are role models for good citizenship and 56% of Americans agree that military families are role models for good citizenship. The survey also uncovered Americans’ desire for veterans and military families to carry a unifying message to move the country forward: when presented with a nonpartisan message about the country coming together in 2021, 60% of Americans said veterans would be a trustworthy messenger for this sentiment. And at a time of record political polarization, the survey found that veterans garnered support from across the political spectrum--with 65% of Democrats and 69% of Republicans saying they would pay attention to veterans as messengers for unifying the country.

Dan Vallone, the US Director for More in Common, the nonpartisan nonprofit which led the surveys, noted that, “a consistent finding over the past twenty years has been the high trust Americans place in the U.S. military. Polling on public attitudes towards U.S. military veterans and service families has been less extensive, however, and this report suggests that much of the trust Americans place in the military carries over.”

Additional survey data collected by VCI in March 2021 underscores the importance of veterans engaging the broader civilian society in the aftermath of the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. In this survey, public trust in veterans as role models for good citizenship dropped to 47% when respondents were presented with information on the role of veterans in the attack (both as participants and as members of the Capitol police force), a 14-point drop from December 2020.

“The January 6 attacks made it tragically clear that Americans need to come together to address the challenges of social fracture, division, and extremism in our society” said Vallone. “And veterans and military families need to be part of these efforts, working to build new relationships of trust and common purpose with other Americans.”

With the goal of creating a truly nonpartisan space for veteran and military family communities to promote civic engagement, VCI has outlined a plan of action for the growing coalition of partner organizations that have joined the effort. This will take many forms, including highlighting and amplifying existing initiatives that strengthen civic culture and working with partners to incubate and launch new initiatives and projects at the local, state, and national level.

About The Veterans and Citizens Initiative

The Veterans and Citizens Initiative (VCI) is a nonpartisan group of veterans, military families, and military family and veteran support organizations committed to strengthening American democracy and promoting the shared obligations of citizenship. Launched in November 2020 in collaboration with More in Common, the research-driven nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to countering social division and polarization, VCI is a growing coalition of partners that includes Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Student Veterans of America, and the Secure Families Initiative. VCI’s vision is to serve as a connector that elevates the civic work being done by veterans and military family organizations and builds connections between these organizations and the broader field of nonpartisan civic renewal efforts.

To conduct the research, the VCI partnered with YouGov, a global public opinion and polling company. For the report and survey data, visit

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