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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:
In addition to sharing a visual impairment, students in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Form in Art program also share a great enthusiasm for art, as is demonstrated by these works from their annual exhibition on display through August 2009.
Employees at more than 500 Verizon locations donated over half a million dollars worth of school supplies in just three weeks.
Beverley is a volunteers with Prisoner Visitation & Support in rural West Virginia. Her experiences have allowed her to inspire others and be inspired. Through her visits, she hopes to serve as a role model for those inside and outside of the prison walls.
In 2007 we started the Boston Latin School Youth Climate Action Network as a student led extracurricular club devoted to helping the environment.
When Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated asked its members to support United We Serve’s Summer Service Initiative, the ladies of the Xi Zeta Omega Chapter located in Washington, DC, joined right in to provide “service to all mankind.”
We had a great time in Lockwood on the last day of our Fire Ready Montana tour! It was a beautiful day and all the local fire and emergency officials were there, along with several community booths. Residents came out with their kids to meet Smokey Bear and enjoy the fire truck demonstrations. It truly was a community event!
The University Muslim Medical Association (UMMA) Community Clinic is the first full-time community health center in the United States established by Muslims.
“We were called the ‘Mylar Boys.’ It was like a club.”
On Monday, Secretary Vilsack was in Zanesville, Ohio for a Rural Tour town hall focusing on green jobs and a new energy economy. After the forum, the Secretary visited Maple Terrace, a public housing facility for low-income senior citizens. He led an interfaith service event highlighting President Obama’s United We Serve volunteerism initiative. Secretary Vilsack joined local Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders to distribute energy-efficient Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs) to Maple Terrace residents.
As an AmeriCorps Associate at the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW) in Binghamton, NY, Dan launched the Dumpster Kitchen and pushed his community to see "waste" in a new light.
Students at Von Steuben High School painted a 15-foot mural depicting their experiences at Foster Beach in Chicago. The mural is a daily reminder of more than six years of monthly stewardship and seasonal adventures. “I like knowing that the trash we help to remove from the beach makes things better,” says teacher CarolLynn Chmielewski, who has headed the Von Steuben High School Environmental Action Club in adopting and caring for Foster Beach.
After visiting with the President, I realized that volunteering here gives me the opportunity to, in a small way, repay those individuals who were so helpful to me during my crisis. Volunteerism also helps satisfy a need to be involved in solving some of the problems that we face in our community. In my case, delivering meals to the homebound has provided me the opportunity to serve longer.
“We hope you will join us in our efforts to prevent the spread of malaria. It’s as simple as this: one bag saves one life,” says Leah.
The Sharing the Harvest Community Farm Project is a collaboration between the Dartmouth YCMA and the Greater New Bedford Hunger Commission of Southeastern Massachusetts, a program of the United Way.
Dr. Johari R.: "I consider helping people to find work as a ministry."
Sara shares the story of Andrea, a guidance counselor at Vero Beach Elementary School, who used her time off this summer to volunteer with the Social Entrée Meals program at the Senior Resource Association of Indian River County, Florida.
Volunteers participated as victims in a simulated poisonous gas release. They went through triage on site then were transported to hospitals on both sides of the river. Afterwards several answered questions about their experience.
UPS human resource employees had an opportunity to spend an afternoon working with Women on the Rise, an organization that supports parenting and early childhood education.
Senior citizens in Butte, Montana, shared their skills and talents with young campers learning to make crafts as part of the RSVP program.
Interfaith Partnership/Faith Beyond Walls works with congregations and faith communities to promote peace, understanding and respect among people of all faiths and within the greater Saint Louis metro area.
Cisco employees decided that they wanted to “make an impact” and not just “write a check” for the Guadalupe River Park and Gardens in downtown San Jose, an area maintained entirely by volunteers. Thirty-eight Cisco employees rolled up their sleeves to clean and provide maintenance for the Guadalupe River Park and Gardens.
Joel Berg at the New York City Coalition Against Hunger works with community volunteers in 3 New York City neighborhoods to organize Community Supported Agriculture Projects - programs that make farm fresh produce accessible and affordable for all income levels.
My name is Carolyn and I am a volunteer at the Piney Creek Watershed Association (PCWA). I am so grateful that I was introduced to PCWA because it is a wonderful group of people who have a passion for the community, access to clean water and protecting the environment.
I spent my high school years at a Jesuit school in Portland, Oregon. Our school motto was “Age Quod Agis,” a Latin proverb that means, “Do well whatever you do.”
On August 27, 2009, I took part in United We Serve Safety and Security Week by touring our new Volunteer Reception Center, housed in the new Salvation Army Family Services Building.
“With Ike’s devastation still so fresh on everyone’s mind, we are experiencing an increase in interest from people that desire to participate in training,” said Mark Sloan. “Current students in our class feel we are giving them more insight and greater ability to respond to disasters.”
These are the moments that make our job worth it. At any other camp, these kids would've been sent home days ago, but that's not true with us. We'll find some way to make it work. Because every kid deserves a chance to go to summer camp.
I have gotten more out of seeing the residences' smiles, their excitement, their love than I really can explain in words.
What started as a dozen families dancing in the woods turned into a major charitable organization - the Western Fraternal Life Association. Recently they mobilized their community to save antiques and educate local youth in the process.
These students found out what was important to members of their community and helped people dig deeper.

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