Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan overwhelmingly consider President George W. Bush a better commander in chief than President Barack Obama, according to a survey conducted by the Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation.
In the survey, full results of which are on the Washington Post website, veterans answered an extensive variety of questions about their experiences at war, their opinions politically about the war, and their experiences subsequent to returning to their daily lives. Politically, veterans did not rate President Obama highly nor the Veterans Administration for its work in helping the country’s military population.
Among those surveyed, 58% said they believed the VA was doing a poor or fair job, compared to just 38% who said it was doing a good or excellent job. Of President Obama, 32% approved of the job he was doing as President, while only 42% considered him a good commander in chief. Meanwhile, 54% of respondents said they disapproved of the job President Obama was doing in office. President Bush, meanwhile, received a much more favorable rating from the veterans – 65% considered him a good commander in chief.
Only 17% of veterans surveyed considered themselves Democrats, and 27% aligned with the Republican Party. Political independents made up a much larger portion at 47%.
Veterans also answered personal questions on their returns to civilian life. The population was evenly split between those who considered it easy to readjust to life after deployment and those who did not, 49%-50%. However, 55% reported feeling “disconnected from civilian life” upon their return, with 44% disagreeing with that assessment; 69% felt that the average American did not understand their experience at war.
The Washington Post has run an extensive feature profiling specific veterans participating in the project along with the poll. More than one million servicemen and women have attempted to use the VA’s services since 2002, and the VA experienced an uptick in requests for service after President Obama announced he would increase funding for the administration. Nearly half of the group looking to the VA sought help with disabilities, but only one third of those applying received it. The Post also contends that veterans’ “views of the two presidents appear to be shaped less by political affiliation than by concern over the Obama administration’s plans to reduce the size of the military, trim benefits for future service members, and curtail the purchase of some costly new weapons systems.”
Despite the high percentage of military veterans who identify as independents, polls in 2012 found that veterans overwhelmingly supported Mitt Romney over President Obama during that year’s presidential election.