Last week, I traveled to San Francisco where I spent a few days on site visits and in discussions with service leaders. A big focus of this trip was highlighting our work to meet the needs of our veterans and military families.
On Wednesday, I joined RSVP volunteers and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom at a downtown veteran’s clinic in a project that offers services to homeless veterans. It is a sad and striking statistic that 1 out of every 4 homeless people in America is a veteran. While progress is being made, tackling this complex challenge will take the best efforts of government, nonprofits, and volunteers working together, and our programs have an important role to play.
Veterans Day has always been a time to reflect on the bravery and sacrifice of the men and women who serve in our military. As Americans, it is our solemn obligation to not only honor our veterans with our words, but to support them through our deeds.
And I’m proud that on this Veterans Day, volunteer projects took place across the country to serve veterans and to engage them in service to others – from Ft. Meade in Maryland, where Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Corporation board member Laysha Ward joined hundreds of volunteers in remaking a school library; to New Orleans, where Energy Secretary Steven Chu joined AmeriCorps members in building energy efficient homes; to Washington D.C., where veterans and active duty troops served alongside AmeriCorps members at a Habitat build.
But honoring our veterans isn’t something that should just happen on Veterans Day, it’s something that should happen every day. That’s why the work we are doing now to expand our support for veterans and military families is so important. Erwin Tan is heading up a CNCS-wide effort that has a dual goal of expanding our programming to serve veterans and military families and engaging more veterans in service.
We have taken some good early steps – including making veterans a priority of the 2011 AmeriCorps competition – but there is much more to be done. I encourage you to visit our new veterans and military families page on Serve.gov to learn more.
Patrick A. Corvington is the CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service.