As a national service organization, our thoughts and efforts are never far from our troops. If there's one group of Americans that not only demonstrates but embodies the ethos of coming together for others, it is our men and women in uniform. With good reason, we call them our service members.
Veterans like army infantryman Timm Lovitt embody the promise and merit we would do well to embrace and reward. “When I transitioned out of the military, I realized that I had a huge void in my life,” he reflected. “I had lost my sense of mission and purpose, as well as the camaraderie that I shared with my brothers and sisters.”
Lovitt, like many before him, shed his fatigues but kept his intentions by joining our domestic service as an AmeriCorps member.
Our soldiers come from every state in our nation, and bring every life experience. What they have in common -- beyond a deep sense of duty to something larger -- is ambition, a drive to alter what's before them and the stamina to get it done.
According to the Department of Defense Youth Attitude Tracking Survey, “funding for higher education” is the number one reason people give for enlisting. Many of these brave Americans want to send themselves to college. As luck would have it, so do we.
Not only do we have a special obligation to this particular group of aspiring scholars, we have a pressing need to increase enrollment in higher education overall.
President Obama has launched an ambitious plan to boost our college graduation rate to 60 percent by 2020. Who better at the helm of this charge than our most proven leaders? Who more deserving of our support than those who support our nation even with their lives?
Training the Next Generation
By doubling down on our commitment to send our soldiers to school, we are guaranteed untold returns. We improve our competitiveness by training the next generation of engineers and innovators, teachers and businesspeople. And, at the same time, we provide some measure of reciprocity for the service we've received.
The Corporation for National and Community Service believes in amplifying the role and trumpeting the benefits of service – something our troops know inside and out. By improving the quality of and access to education also at the top of our agenda, investing in continued learning for our soldiers is an obvious place to put our energies.
We invest in our veterans by connecting them to AmeriCorps service opportunities to prepare them to become teachers, or NCCC service opportunities that capitalize on their skills to lead during natural disasters.
As soldiers we salute you. As scholars, we thank you once again for bettering our nation by putting your talents and energy to greater purpose.
Nicole Gallant is the Director of Learn and Service America and the Strategic Education Advisor for the Corporation for National and Community Service.
Erwin Tan is the Director of Senior Corps and the Strategic Advisor for Veterans and Military Families for the Corporation for National and Community Service.