The National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service Wants to Hear From you.

 

 

“The National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service is a bipartisan, 11-member Commission created by Congress to develop recommendations to inspire more Americans—specifically young people—to participate in military, national, and public service and to review the military selective service process.

The Commission was established on September 19, 2017 and launched in January 2018. We released an Interim Report on January 23, 2019. Addressed to the American public, Congress, and the President, the Interim Report outlines issues we are exploring and summarizes our work to date. We will publish our Final Report, complete with policy recommendations and legislative proposals, by March 2020. Our work will conclude by September 2020.”

The Commission is comprised of eleven commissioners who bring together diverse experiences from service in the military, public office, Capitol Hill, and not-for-profit organizations.”

https://inspire2serve.gov/content/who-we-are

 

Peace Corps is included in the list of National Service opportunities.  The Commission will issue its final recommendations in 2020.  Those recommendations may or may not impact the Peace Corps. The Commission is still soliciting comments from the public.  Mark Gearan, former Director of the Peace Corps is Vice Chair of the commission. Your opinions are important. Go to this site to comment”

https://inspire2serve.gov/publiccomments

Here is the questionnaire:

  1. Does service have inherent value? If so, what is it?
  2. How does the U.S. increase the desire for Americans, particularly young Americans, to serve?
  3. What are the barriers to participation in military, national or public service?
  4. How can the U.S. increase participation in military, national, and public service by individuals with critical skills to address national security and other public service needs of the nation?
  5. Is the military draft or draft contingency still a necessary component of U.S. national security?
  6. Are modifications to the selective service system needed?
  7. Is a mandatory service requirement for all Americans necessary, valuable, and feasible?

17 Comments

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  • Thanks, Joanne, for forwarding thiis. Ive been sidelined for a couple weeks with computer hardware and software woes. Growing up and spending a lot of my life in multicultural New Mexico,, and serving both in the early PC and then drafted for the Vitetnam War, I could write a book on this subject. It was a long time ago , as a recently-returned RPCV that I would become a sort of counsellor and “Big Brother” to young VISTA Volunteers from the East, sent out here to work on NM Indian reservations.

    I”ll do my best to get some thoughtful comments to the Committee. John T Ghana-3 Geology & nyasaland/malawi-2 Geology Assignment 1963, -64, 65

    • John, I think you are absolutely the kind of person who should be commenting to the Commissin. You volunteered for the Peace Corps and later were drafted into the military and sent to Vietnam.

      One of the charges to the Commission is to investigate why it is so difficult to recruit for the military. Only a very small portion of citizens are in the military and shouldering the burden for everyone. Many Commission members are in favor of reinstituting the Draft and mandating it also for the year of non-military service, such as Vista for high school graduates.

      I was never subject to the Draft and can not comment from the same experience as you and others who were drafted into the miitary. One of the considerations is extending the Draft to females.

      I am an Army Brat. My Dad was a combat veteran, WWII and Korea, and he volunteered to go on Active Duty when WWII began. He was 22 years in the Army. He was an educated man and took an oath to protect the Constitution. He knew that meant civilian control of the military. Still, it was very hard for him to know his life was really controlled by politicians; many had never served and were not necessarily knowledgeable about the world. I would hate to see every young person in the country forced into that kind of situation.

  • Replying to Edward M. If Dennis was a VISTA in New Mexico during the 1970s, I very well may have. But all those individual names, over the years, have slipped my mind.. John T

  • Replying to Joanne, One of the BIG problems following the mess with Vietnam. was the equally-foolish gov’t decision to do away with the American tradition “citizen army”, which were ordinary guys, and couldn’t see the morality of what they were asked to do in Vietnam — abolish the citizen army and substitute an obedient paid “professional army” — totally at odds with everything the Founding Fathers had said, back in 1789 — and George Washington’s Continental citizen army.

    When I did my obligatory reserve duty it was with National Guard units, often ridiculed as “Weekend Warriors” — except that we stood in the shadow of heroes. My units, the 45th Inf Div had hit the beaches at Anzio as part of the US Fifth Army, and it was they who received the hugs and kisses of all the Italian girls, as they cleared Italy of the hated German occupiers. Those GIs were doing something that was “right”, and everybody seemed to recognize it. THEN, my second unit, the successor to the immortal 200th Coast Artillery, which defended Corregidor and Bataan, to the last round of ammunition. Who could not be proud of that, even if vicariously.

    I never would see my military reserve duty as in any way contradictory to my volunteer service in the Peace Corps. In fact, when I worked as a PCV in West Africa, I would meet veterans of the Colonial Gold Coast Regiment and Sierra Leone Regiment who still remembered serving with Ameriican GIs during the war in the Pacific. Hearty hand-shakes that any PCV would remember.

    However, with today’s AVF professional paid army, I no longer feel that way.

    Lots to be reflecting on. I hope I can get some useful comments to this commission. John T

  • Thanks, John. I has assumed you were drafted. It was your Reserve unit which was called up, right? I am not sure what you mean by “citizen army”. My Dad was in the Reserve during the Depression, mainly initially for the pay, small as it was, and then chose to be activited in 1940. But, the Selective Service Law was passed in 1940, and I am not sure if that is the citizen army to which you are referring. It would seem to me that men and women who volunteer now for the military are doing the same thing as those of you who signed up for National Guard and ROTC in earlier times. But, as I say, you are the knowledgeable one who served, not I. That is why your opinion is so important

    Some members of the Commission favor mandatory service and one reason is their belief it would help the political divides in this country if everyone had to serve together. I don’t think it is the role of the government to help citizens “get along”. I am not in favor of mandatory service, military or national.

    Having said that, however, my 1963 Peace Corps group of 38 women included Latinas, an African American, a Asian American, and an American Indian. The women from “minority groups”, if you will, were the brightest and the best educated. Two of us “gringas” both had grandmothers who were born in Slovakia.

    Anzio also was a link between two of us. My father majored in college in German. He was in the reserves in Pennsylvania. When he became active duty, he was assigned to the 36th Infantry Divison,military government, which was the Texas National Guard. One of the woman I served with had an uncle in the Texas National Guard and was also then in the 36th Infantry Divison. The 36 th also landed ar Anzio as part of the first assault on the European continent. Tragically, her uncle was killed, my father was in the landing, but survived. When she went to Italy, two years ago to pay homage to her uncle at his grave site she send me pictures of the peaceful beach at Anzio and the memorial at Monte Casino. Small world, indeed.

    But, your opinion is the one most pertinent. I am glad you are going to comment.

  • Replying to Joanne, To clarify, I WAS drafted, following my return from PC service. Thanks to a Bird Colonel TDY to the Selective Service System, and a Major in the Oklahoma NG, the 45th Inf, both recognizing and respecting my PC service, the Colonel pulled the draft notice, in order to allow me time to enlist in something other than the infantry headed for ‘Nam. With a recommendation from the Major, I was able to enlist in the 45th, did my six months of active duty, and six years of active reserve, and happily stayed out of ‘Nam. SO, in one sense I was a draftee, and in another, an enlistee. Hope that makes sense. Back then, there was a lot of regard for the Peace Corps and PCVs. Even amongst career officers like this Colonel.

    The definition I have of “citizen soldier” as embraced by the Founding Fathers, is one who (either conscripted or enlists) who is an ordinary citizen, but in the military only for the duration of some war or other duty — and then returns to civilian life. NOT one who makes a lifetime career of the military. The Founding Fathers were pretty clear about WHY they thought as they did.

    concerning Anzio, and the Italian Campaign, yes, the “Texas 36th” was very much there, as was the “Okla 45th”. Being “citizen soldiers” by definition, upon cessation of hostilities in Europe both divisions were returned home, discharged, and returned to their civilian lives.

    I certainly agree that national service should NOT be mandatory. But, like the famous “GI Bill”, there are a lot of incentives can be offered. All minds are not the same, and not everybody is intellectually cut out to be a successful PCV — or a soldier. Today, I see a lot of unofficial incentives with nothing to do with the gov’t, like universities’ priority admission to graduate schools and other professional training. With the WW-2 “GI Bill”, the gov’t paid tuition. We typically think of it as a reward or bonus, but there was a practical consideration as well — how to orderly reintegrate that many ex-GIs into society, get them going in a new career direction, and avoid social chaos.

    One thing about today that is very different from those idealistic days of the early Peace Corps, and VISTA — today we don’t have the inspiration of someone like JFK, or before him FDR. I’m not sure HOW to make up for the absence of such inspiration, when it comes to volunteering.

    Lots to think about. John T

  • John,
    Thanik you so much for the story of your “induction”. It is important. The history of the relationship between Peace Corps and Selective Service “Draft” has to be told. Your experience would be vital to such a history.

    Not all Peace Corps/Trainees encountered the same kind of respect for Peace Corps service which you did. Peace Corps service was deferred servicce. I think draft boards were notified when a man’s service ended, either voluntarily or involuntarily. I knew circumstances where men were threatened with deselection or termination for speaking up or complaining. It was a threat which men may have lived with during all the time of their service.

    Bruce Murphy was a Volunteer in Chile in 1968 and wrote a letter criticizing the Vietnam war which was published in the New York Times. He was called to Washington and terminated on his way home. Hiis draft board was notified and he was reclassified 1A and scheduled for induction. He refused induction and was indicted. A year later, with the help of the ACLU, a court “squashed” the induction and established the limited First Amendment right of Volunteers.

    Thank you for your definition of “civilian soldier”. My father was career military for the simple reason, the military pay for an officer was more than that of a teacher. There were other major incentives for men to remain in the military. President Truman integrated the military in 1948, at a time where segregation was the law in most states. Many states also had laws criminalizing marriage between the races. The mililatry was a safe haven for many men. It also was, on paper, at least, a meritocracy, interested inpromoting the best solidier, regardless of class, race, or religion.

    You are so right, also, about the G.I. Bill. Not only did it help returning GIs integrate into civilian society, but it gave them all access to a college education and their first home. Those were the building blocks of the middle classe.

    I don’t know what incentatives could be offered to young people today.

  • Yes, Joanne, not all returning PCVs in the ’60s enjoyed the respect for their service that I did. I can only point to the Univerisity of Oklahoma, where I was a grad student, AND my own draft board, both of which were, to say the least, hostile. It was THE MILITARY GUYS who respected my PC service, not the pious civilians, probably most of whom had never served in anything, sleuthing around for draftt dodgers.

    Remembering those days, I was lucky, and there was a steady stream of less lucky RPCVs who moved to Canada, rather than participate in the Vietnam War, which by that time was already widely perceived as an affront to and violation of the Geneva Accords. By that time the writings of savvy authors like Lt Comdr William Lederer and professor Eugene Burdick roundly justified criticism of that War. Remember “The Ugly American” ? The book simultaneously made a marvelous pitch for the concept of the Peace Corps.

    Later ,in a well-intentioned gesture at conciliation, Pres Gerald Ford tried to placate the departed RPCVs with an offer of amnesty, but the reaction was vociferous, suggesting that it was the people responsible for the Vietnam War who needed the amnesty. Some, though, did quietly return to the US.

    For many of us, those were confusing and angry times. I don’t like to think about it. John Turnbull

  • I think, Joanne, that voluntarism has to arise from something more prinicipled than a job-for-pay. Volunteers need to BELIEVE in what they’re doing. The PC seems to have struck a nice balance with it’s “Readjustment Allowance”, and then, as I wrote earlier, a lot of appreciative non-governmental incentives would appear, like priority acceptances to graduate study, and then, savvy federal and state gov’t agencies, who recognized that such motivated people were exactly what gov’t agencies needed, and would give them priority points on their applications.

    BUT, by all means, it is the general appreciation of the society that really counts for many. (especially in today’s cynical times ). I’m not sure how that’s made to happen.

    It’s not like 1961. Besides the inspiring rhetoric of JFK, we don’t have “The Great Generation” and the heroes of WW-2 that we did back then. Nor the idealistic medical missionaries like Dr Switzer, who captured so many hearts. Nor the scientists like LSB Leakey (a personal acquaintance of mine ! ) making exciting discoveries. These sources of inspiration just don’t exist today..

    Given that, it might be wortthwhile for the NPCA or somebody to querry a bunch of more recent PCVs and applicants, and ask that very question: “What was your motivation to apply ?” AND, for all of the early termination PCVs, ask “What was it that was disappointing ?” When, as I’ve been told, some PC training groups have lately experienced a stunning 100% early termination, clearly some answers are needed.

    Best regards, John Turnbull

  • I’m glad we did what we did and as we did. Nothing can take that that we had and did and how we felt then, nor can change what we did and who we were then. Remember that song: I believe for every drop of rain that falls…. We followed our hearts and our minds and what I still believe to have been our souls, and that carries certainty and our history. That I still honor and believe most of our youth likewise honored. My great grandmother Jane Kennedy Delehant from northwest Pennsylvania intoned the first decade of my life “Backward, O Backward, O time in thy flight: make me a child again, just for tonight.” I go back in memory now and honor so much in my past and in the past of my time. We were honorable people then, by and large. Grammy also used to say “You don’t get it off the grass” along with her warning not to follow the crows suggesting likewise geese would walk over our graves. She was born in the 1860’s, maybe a little sooner, and died at 84 when I was 10. I am now 82. The ethos of her time — that time of the Pennsylvania Dutch and the Quakers and those Methodists — stained my ethics with a moral vision. I’d say that my youth and that of those who shared the times of my young manhood as I entered the Peace Corps also generally shared my/ and our beliefs. Edward Mycue (one of the 50 volunteers in 1961 who went to Ghana on a 2-engine Convair airplane)

  • This post is slowly slipping back to ancient history, on the thrid page. I hope people reading this will continue, with the commehts I’ve postted to more recent subjects, like the PC Placement Test, on Page one. John Turnbull

  • Other than the armed forces,the only existing public service programs I am aware of are the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps. Am I missing any others?

    • Lawrence,

      The Commission makes three categories:

      Military Service -self explanatory

      National Service – Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, YouthBuild, City Year, and Teach for America, among others.

      Public Service-this refers to government employment, at the local, state and federal level.

      There is a list of all the organizations in the category of National Service, which I was able to access once, now I cannot find it. I tried to find a question box, but wound up chosing a language, so now everything is in Swahalli…I am not kidding. I will try later, after coffee and perhaps a cooler head.

  • Turnbull- You wrote that you “could write a book,” Good. This is the land of the free and the brave. Be brave and write and publish book. I’ll buy a copy.

  • This information is from The Corporation for National and Community Service and shows opportunities in Colorado, the website has information for each state.

    AmeriCorps

    Last year, more than 2,600 AmeriCorps members met pressing local needs across Colorado, making a lasting impact in communities while gaining valuable skills and experience to advance their careers. AmeriCorps members serve through one of three programs:

    AmeriCorps State & National engages men and women in intensive service at thousands of locations across the country through nonprofits, schools, public agencies, tribes, and community and faith-based groups. Most AmeriCorps grant funding goes to the Serve Colorado Governor/’s Commission on Community Service, the Governor-appointed State Service Commission, which in turn awards grants to organizations to respond to local needs.
    AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) taps the skills, talents, and passion of Americans of all ages to support community efforts to overcome poverty.
    AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) is a full-time, team-based residential program for 18-24 year-olds. Members develop leadership skills by serving in public safety, environment, and disaster projects. FEMA Corps, a unit of NCCC, focuses solely on disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.
    Senior Corps

    Senior Corps taps the skills, talents, and experience of Americans age 55 and over to meet a wide range of community challenges. Last year, more than 4,700 Colorado seniors met critical community needs while contributing to longer, healthier lives through one of three Senior Corps programs:

    Foster Grandparents serve one-on-one as tutors and mentors to young people with exceptional needs.
    Senior Companions help homebound seniors and other adults maintain independence primarily in their own homes.
    RSVP volunteers conduct safety patrols, renovate homes, protect the environment, tutor and mentor youth, respond to natural disasters, and provide other services.

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