Service Year Alliance Statement for the Record for the Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on:
Final Recommendations and Report of the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service
Thursday, March 11, 2021
Chairman Reed, Ranking Member Inhofe and members of the Armed Services Committee,
Service Year Alliance is pleased to submit this testimony for the record for the hearing on the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service.
Service Year Alliance is an organization working to make a year of paid, full-time national service — a service year — a common expectation and opportunity for all young Americans. We do that through our Serve America Together campaign, which brings together a coalition of military and civilian service organizations, among others, to advocate to make civilian national service part of growing up in America. We also support service year programs and help stand up new innovative models, and maintain the only online portal — ServiceYear.org — that connects young people to all different types of available service year opportunities, including AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, YouthBuild and non-federally funded programs.
New Poll: As President Biden Calls for National Unity, Majority of Americans Support National Service to Bridge Divides
Nearly 7 out of 10 Americans Believe President Biden Should Prioritize Programs that Work Towards Healing the Nation
WASHINGTON, DC – New polling data released today by the Serve America Together campaign show that the majority of Americans support President Joe Biden’s focus on healing the nation and believe an expansion of civilian national service opportunities for young Americans can help accomplish that goal. President Biden’s inaugural speech focused largely on the idea that for the nation to heal and move forward national unity must be prioritized, arguing that we never fail when we act together. More than three-quarters of respondents to the poll said they support Congress passing legislation that would expand national service opportunities, such as AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps.
For the first time in our history, older Americans outnumber the young, and it’s a trend that will only grow over the next 30 years. If you’ve never wondered who’s going to be there to take care of us, now would be a good time to start.
We’re collectively living longer and, while that’s reason to celebrate, it comes with its own set of challenges, including the increased likelihood of illness and chronic disease. Alzheimer’s disease, for instance, is already one of the leading causes of death in America. Globally, more than 50 million people live today with a dementia diagnosis. And, by 2050, that number is expected to more than triple. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated many of the issues older adults face, including social isolation and loneliness. These older Americans need support now. And as today’s younger Americans become tomorrow’s older Americans, they, too, will need help.
Prominent Americans Urge Presidential Candidates to Expand National Service to Renew Civic Spirit
In an open letter to President Trump and Vice President Biden, bipartisan group advocates for national service to be prioritized as solution to countries’ challenges
WASHINGTON, DC (October 29, 2020) – In the final days of the presidential election, a diverse group of more than 120 Americans from across the country today called on President Trump’s and Vice President Biden’s campaigns to prioritize the expansion of national service in the next presidential term as a way to address the polarization of the nation. In a letter released as a part of the Serve America Together campaign, former governors and members of Congress as well as leading philanthropy, thought and faith leaders, impressed upon the importance of national service as a tool to unite Americans and to help renew the nation’s civic spirit.
National Business and Workforce Development Leaders Call on Presidential Campaigns to Prioritize Expansion of National Service
More than 60 of the nation’s leading business and workforce development leaders sign bipartisan letter
WASHINGTON, DC (October 26, 2020) – The Serve America Together campaign today released a letter signed by more than 60 of the nation’s leading business and workforce development leaders calling on President Trump’s and Vice President Biden’s presidential campaigns to prioritize the expansion of national service.
Over 80 National Security Leaders Sign On to Letter Calling on Presidential Campaigns to Prioritize National Service
National security leaders including former cabinet secretaries, State Department officials, and Pentagon appointees, join former National Security Council members and veterans on bipartisan letter to campaigns
WASHINGTON, DC (October 13, 2020) – Today, the Serve America Together campaign released a letter signed by over 80 diverse and bipartisan national security leaders to President Trump and Vice President Biden’s presidential campaigns calling for an expansion of national service. The letter, which is signed by national security leaders including former cabinet secretaries, State Department officials, Pentagon appointees, National Security Council members, and veterans from across the Armed Services, urges the candidates to prioritize national service in their potential future administrations as a way to maintain the strength and security of our nation...
Throughout the course of history, Americans have, time and again, come together in moments of crisis to confront our challenges and move the country forward. As I envision a path out of the current crises facing our nation, I believe this moment is no different.
For the past three years, I served as the chairman of theNational Commission on Military, National and Public Service, a position I was appointed to by Senate Majority LeaderMitch McConnell(R-Ky.) and which allowed me to continue my own service to our country, building upon my current service in the Army Reserve and my experience as a former three-term Republican congressman. Throughout the congressionally-mandated Commission’s tenure that explored America’s appetite for service and the potential need for a military draft, we traveled across the country hearing from Americans about their desire to serve, the barriers to service, and their ideas for inspiring more people to serve.
Even as we face the hard realities of a pandemic, the fight for social justice, and divisive national politics, recent national polling offers a spot of good news. More than seven out of 10 Americans believe they have more in common with one another than many people think.
Those findings are part of a recent survey conducted for Harvard University’s Carr Center for Human Rights and Institute of Politics. Americans, it turns out, are not as divided as our politics and news media might indicate.
Our country faces mounting public health, economic, and educational crises, as well as a nationwide reckoning on racial injustice — challenges that require thoughtful solutions to move the country forward. When it comes to addressing these critical issues, there are few solutions that have both bipartisan support and can be a true antidote in helping to rebuild in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a proud member of the Nonprofit Infrastructure Investment Advocacy Group (NIIAG), convened by Independent Sector and KABOOM!, Service Year Alliance is thrilled to see NIIAG lifting up national service as a way to strengthen our country’s civic infrastructure.
As we determine how best to address each of these individual challenges, we also must confront the growing lack of trust in our institutions and the hyperpolarization that threaten the civic fabric of American society. If we are to truly tackle these issues, it will require a solution that unites Americans around a common cause in order to knit our communities back together.
Coalition of Leading Military and Civilian Service Organizations Calls on Presidential Campaigns to Prioritize National Service
The coalition is part of the Serve America Together campaign to make national service part of growing up in America.
WASHINGTON, DC (September 14, 2020) – Today, over a dozen leading military and civilian service organizations released a letter calling on President Trump and Vice President Biden’s presidential campaigns to prioritize a significant expansion of national service in the first 100 days of their potential administrations. The first-of-its-kind coalition — which is the backbone of the Serve America Together campaign to make national service part of growing up in America — unites the military and civilian service movements under one banner behind a bold call to action for national service expansion.
As Democrats and Republicans take the stage over the next several weeks, sharing their visions for America, we are hoping that they include a vision for giving young Americans, who have been hit hardest by the unemployment crisis, an opportunity to serve their communities by addressing the impacts of COVID-19 in health, education, and food insecurity — all while getting them back on track for education or employment and helping to knit our society back together.
By HOWARD SCHULTZ & STAN MCCHRYSTAL, July 23, 2020
After graduating from college last year, Ora Tucker Meadows chose to spend a year in service to our country by assisting teachers at an elementary school in the St. Louis suburb of Belleville, Illinois.
When the Covid-19 crisis shut down her school, Meadows, a member of AmeriCorps, a national service organization that she joined out of college, had the option of hunkering down at home. Instead, she found a new way to serve: She spent her days distributing lunches to students, sorting food at a local pantry and checking on seniors who were isolating at home. Now she is tutoring summer-school students online.
For decades, government-funded national service programs like AmeriCorps have been dispatching thousands of young people to help their fellow Americans in communities across the country.
In turn, those who serve receive a modest stipend while gaining new skills and a true sense of purpose.
During the last three months, legions of Americans participating in national service programs have stepped up to provide much-needed assistance for coronavirus response activities.
Home InsteadCEO Joins Serve America Together as Campaign Co-chair
Huber brings fresh private sector perspective to campaign at pivotal moment for national service
WASHINGTON, DC (February 19, 2020) – Today, Jeff Huber, CEO of Home Instead, joined Serve America Together as campaign co-chair to advance efforts to make national service part of growing up in America. In his role as CEO of Home Instead — the leading global provider of home care for older adults — Huber is leading the creation of a new service year corps that engages the next generation of young Americans in the future of aging.
By STEPHEN HADLEY AND JOHN BRIDGELAND, September 11, 2019
We envision a future where everyone has the opportunity as they enter adulthood to serve in a civilian or military capacity, a future in which national service brings together young people of different backgrounds and where that service is rewarded with increased opportunity. This future engages communities to ensure local priorities are honored and private resources are usefully leveraged. It builds on existing efforts at the federal, state, and local levels so that no resource goes untapped.
To achieve this future, we must first call on Congress to dramatically increase the number of national service opportunities from 66,000 per year to 200,000 to match the number of people who enter the United States armed services each year, on a path toward one million service opportunities a year by the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 2026. Serve America Together is leading this charge and continues to press the presidential candidates to release their plans to expand national service during their potential first 100 days in office.
"If the past 18 years have taught me anything, it's that national service - whether military, civilian or public - not only allows us to address some of our biggest shared challenges at home and abroad, but also represents one of the last, best hopes to inoculate our country against the divisions threatening our future.
That's why I am excited about Serve America Together - a campaign to make national service part of growing up in America. We need to focus on our common values and what we can do better, together. Making opportunities to serve available to all young Americans will create the connective tissue the nation needs."
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand accepts Serve America Together’s Presidential Challenge and commits to rewarding those who serve with debt-free college
Gillibrand is the second 2020 presidential candidate to formally accept Serve America Together’s presidential challenge.
WASHINGTON, DC (August 27, 2019) – Today, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand formally accepted Serve America Together’s presidential challenge. She touts her national service plan which would award individuals who serve for one year with tax-free financial assistance to attend two years of public or community college tuition-free. It also calls for appointing a Cabinet-level director of national public service. Gillibrand is the second candidate to respond to the campaign’s presidential challenge. Pete Buttigieg accepted the challenge on July 3, 2019.