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AmeriCorps Works for Veterans and Military Families

by Koby Langley

As an Iraq War veteran, I am honored to work at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). We are home to more than 70,000 AmeriCorps members, whom we are celebrating as part of AmeriCorps Week.

I work with these national service leaders and our other programs to find ways to support wounded warriors, veterans, and their families.

Consider these numbers: In the next five years, 1.5 million service members, guardsmen, and reservists will be returning home to their families and communities to take off their uniform for the last time.

A 2013 report from the Institute for Veterans and Military Families shows that our heroes face challenges. Today, if you are you are male veteran under 24, you have a one-third chance of being unemployed. According to the 2012 Annual Homeless Assessment Report, if you are a female Veteran, your risk of homelessness has increased each of the past three years. The unemployment rate for military spouses is 25 percent. Last week, Student Veterans of America issued a report that tells us that if you are a student veteran, there's a 40 percent chance you won't get your college degree.

These challenges are serious, but they are not insurmountable. That's why the national service community, including AmeriCorps, is engaging our veteran and military families.

One example of how AmeriCorps works for veterans comes from Washington. The state established the first Vet Corps/AmeriCorps program to help soldiers transition from Iraq and Afghanistan back into civilian life and to succeed in college. It is an example of veterans helping veterans, and we've captured the power of this program in the video below.

 

National service programs are making a difference across the country.

In fact, I am in Wilmington, DE, today, where Gov. Jack Markell just signed an agreement with our CEO, Wendy Spencer, and the National Guard that will help returning guardsmen in his state. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons as well as about 100 AmeriCorps members joined them at this announcement.

What we are doing in Delaware is being replicated in other states, too. We are putting AmeriCorps VISTA members on the ground to provide services for guardsmen and their families who are at risk of homelessness, joblessness, or otherwise in need of economic stability assistance.

In addition to national initiatives, we're also making a difference on the local level. The AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps is working with the Boys and Girls Club of Wilmington. They will help renovate and restore a former National Guard Armory that now is a Boys and Girls Club serving many military families.

Please share this message with your friends and family, and let them know how AmeriCorps works for veterans and military families.

Koby Langley is the Senior Executive Adviser for Wounded Warrior, Veteran and Military Family Initiatives at CNCS.

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