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National Service Blog - Archive
by
Erwin Tan

On Veterans Day, we honor the brave men and women who have risked their lives to protect our freedoms. As Americans, it is our solemn obligation to not only honor them with our words, but to support them through our deeds. Veterans and the families that support them deserve our respect, gratitude, and service – on Veterans Day and throughout the year.

The Corporation for National and Community Service, we are committed to expanding our work with veterans and military families. Building on years of experience, and consistent with the Serve America Act, we are increasing of support of programs that serve veterans and military families, or that engage veterans in service. We are learning a great deal from existing programs and pilots. Here are a few examples:

  • The Washington Commission on National and Community Service worked with the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs to establish an AmeriCorps veterans corps. The success of this program has led to similar veterans corps being funded by State Commissions in California, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
  • Thousands of Senior Corps volunteers assist elderly and disabled veterans, help military retirees acclimate to life after active duty, and provide transportation to former service members in need of medical treatment.
  • We are in the second year of a partnership with the American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) and their Call to Service Consortium. Through this AmeriCorps VISTA program, the ALA serves as an intermediary engaging 14 other organizations in veterans-related national service. These veterans service organizations have a long and proud history of serving veterans. We have much to learn from them, just as we have much to offer.
  • Students in Learn and Serve America programs send letters and care packages to troops overseas, create education exhibits, and conduct interviews with veterans to document their war experiences.

There is still much more to do. As we celebrate Veterans Day, I’d like to engage the entire national service field in an intentional strategy of growing the number of organizations who can leverage national service resources to engage veterans and impact military communities. One big opportunity to do so is the 2011 AmeriCorps grant competition, which has made veterans and military families a funding priority.

In addition, I would like to encourage everyone to honor our nation’s veterans by participating in service on Veterans Day. Mission Serve, an initiative of ServiceNation, has worked with nonprofits, national service programs, and veterans’ service organizations across the country to develop Veterans Day service projects that benefit and engage military communities. You can search for a Veterans Day opportunity on Mission Serve’s website or on Serve.gov.

I also encourage you to explore the new veterans and military families page on Serve.gov. This site provides a listing of service opportunities to support veterans throughout the year and project ideas for citizens to support our troops, veterans, and military families. You can learn more about the Corporation’s work with veterans and the military community here.

Erwin J. Tan M.D. is the Director of SeniorCorps and Strategic Advisor for Veterans and Military Families at the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Keywords:
On June 25, President Obama made a federal disaster declaration for parts of Alaska along the Yukon River due to ice jam-related flooding from May 17 to June 11. On cue, a team of AmeriCorps members soon arrived in the remote village of Galena to help people there begin to recover.
A few years ago, a young teenager named Chris was living the street life in Austin, Texas, a high school dropout dealing drugs and facing bleak prospects for the future. While spending time at a juvenile detention center, two Senior Corps volunteers offered Chris love, support, and consistent finger-wagging, encouraging him to take his life in a new direction. Today, thanks to AmeriCorps, Chris has graduated from high school, gained valuable work skills, and found his passion in life -- becoming a wildland firefighter.
Last week, members of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) family joined Volunteer West Virginia and the Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia as more than 40,000 volunteers descended on the Mountain State to perform 350 service projects across nine counties.
A flash flood on July 17 swept through Bannack State Park, a ghost town near Dillon, MT, unearthing many historic artifacts that were scattered throughout the flood zone. Shortly thereafter, a 14-member team from Montana State Parks AmeriCorps sprang into action to locate, tag, and recover items from the site.
In the spirit of Let’s Read. Let’s Move., Atlanta is tackling  the challenge to keep kids’ brains and bodies active through the new Mayor’s Summer Reading Club, which will host  a series of events across the city that cater to the community’s young readers.
What an amazing week for national service!  From the White House to West Virginia, service was in the spotlight.
By Valerie Jarrett, Neil Bush, and Michelle Nunn   The first immigrants to America came seeking freedom, but they survived -- and, in time, came to thrive -- because of their determination and because of each other. They valued self-reliance, but in times of strife they also knew could rely on neighbors, friends, sometimes even strangers to offer a helping hand. That neighbor-helping-neighbor spirit is woven into the DNA of the American spirit. It defines in a very real sense who we are as a people. It also unites us.  
By Cecilia Muñoz and Wendy Spencer     In his 1989 Inaugural Address, when President George H.W. Bush uttered the words “a thousand points of light” he launched a movement. By signing the first National Service Act in 1990, President Bush ushered in the modern era of national service, setting the stage for the creation of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).
National service makes a difference for millions of Americans, but few examples demonstrate this idea better than the story of AmeriCorps member Chris Guzman. His inspirational speech during last week’s National Conference on Volunteering and Service in Washington, DC, drew a standing ovation, and we believe his journey is a prime example of how Corporation for National and Community Service programs change lives.
The suicide of 11-year-old Ty Smalley three years ago shined a spotlight on the bullying he had endured for years at his school in a small Oklahoma town.
Birthdays are big events for most people, but that’s not a given for those who are homeless and have few, if any, resources for life’s luxuries.
While Pedro Rosario’s love of animals was the impetus behind a successful 16-year career at New York City Animal Care and Control, the realities of the job meant he had to witness the euthanizing of many unadopted animals. Rosario believed he could do more to save animals on his own, leading him to create the nonprofit New Beginning Animal Rescue (NBAR) in the East Bronx in 2012.
When 10-year-old Autumn Blinn’s grandmother taught her to sew, they decided to make a pillow for her grandfather John Santiago, who undergoes kidney dialysis three times a week at a Utica, NY, hospital. After John asked her to make another to rest his arm on during his treatments, Autumn was inspired to use her skills to make “Pillows of Love” for as many people as possible.
Hurricane Sandy not only caused physical damage but wreaked havoc on many long-established community connections. In Rockaway Park, water damage to the St. Camillus-St. Virgilius Parish gym scuttled a weekly gathering for children and adults with disabilities. But the community behind Rockaway Special Athletes worked to keep the Monday night tradition alive.
The Corporation for National and Community Service is again collaborating with the New York Yankees during its fifth-annual HOPE Week (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) to highlight acts of goodwill and service in the community.
The Statue of Liberty withstood the force of Hurricane Sandy when it struck last fall, but storm damage closed Liberty Island to tourists just weeks after renovations were completed to the area. AmeriCorps Cape Cod FireCorps members working on Sandy recovery efforts joined the National Park Service to clean up the island, ensuring the American landmark would be ready when it reopens to visitors on July 4th.
Have you ever had one of those days where you can't stop smiling? This month was filled with them. Support for national service grows stronger and stronger; during the past two weeks, we've seen this momentum build in several major arenas. Here's the latest news:
Did you know students can experience learning loss when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer months? On average, students lose the equivalent of two months of math and reading skills during the summer months. More than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities.
This week, I had the opportunity to speak at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service here in Washington, DC. Sponsored by Points of Light, the conference is the world’s largest annual gathering of volunteering and service leaders and supporters. I also announced that President Obama and the First Lady will host a celebration at the White House, on July 15, 2013, in honor of the 5,000th Daily Point of Light award.
A construction project in the shadow of the Washington Monument brought 40 AmeriCorps and VISTA national service members to Washington, DC, to assemble frames for new Habitat for Humanity homes during the 2013 Veterans Build on the Mall June 2-5.
Today, we're pleased to share the truly inspiring story of Habitat for Humanity AmeriCorps member Regina Best. A U.S. Air Force veteran, Regina Best was recently homeless and became so passionate about service that she spent months building homes for others before finding one for herself. Now in her own apartment and back in school, Best is determined to keep serving well beyond her AmeriCorps term.
The Corporation for National and Community Service kicked off its national Let’s Read. Let’s Move. summer initiative by joining the Junior League of Washington to give away the first of more than 15,000 books to DC Public School students.
In the aftermath of the devastating tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma, last week, the Corporation for National and Community Service is working closely with federal, state, and local officials to deploy AmeriCorps members to the region early Tuesday, May 21. As of Thursday, May 30, 96 AmeriCorps members had boots on the ground.
In the aftermath of the devastating tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma, last week, we have witnessed remarkable courage and compassion. From the first responders who pulled survivors from the rubble, to the teachers who shielded their students, to the residents who sheltered their neighbors, Oklahomans have displayed extraordinary strength and resilience.
President Obama’s words remind us of the remarkable way in which Americans across the country will unite after tragedy strikes, just as they have done in the wake of the devastating tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma yesterday.
Last year Senior Corps volunteers contributed more than 80 million hours of service and improved the lives of more than 1.5 million Americans. They tutored or mentored 300,000 children, served more than 560,000 veterans, and helped nearly 800,000 older Americans live independently in their homes.
This week, the Corporation for National and Community Service, elected officials, and community leaders are marking the contributions of Senior Corps volunteers across the country. In fact, more than 40 governors have issued proclamations for Senior Corps Week.
We'd like to introduce you to the new online home for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). You’ve probably noticed that we’ve made a few changes to the look and feel of our site, so we’ve put together this short guide to navigating the site and finding what you need.
Six months ago, Hurricane Sandy struck communities all along the East Coast. In the aftermath of this devastating super storm, AmeriCorps and national service members trained in disaster response are proving to be a valuable and cost-efficient resource for America as they help victims and survivors begin to rebuild their lives.
In recent days, we have witnessed remarkable acts of courage and compassion in the wake of tragedy. From the first responders in Boston who ran into danger to treat the wounded, to the volunteers who built floodwalls to save their Midwestern towns, to the firefighters who rushed in to battle a raging fire in West, Texas, citizens came together to help when it was needed most.

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