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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:
160 Odyssey House staff, clients and community volunteers tackle record breaking rainfall to build a new playground at the Family Re-Entry supportive housing facility in the South Bronx.
One volunteer shares the story of how she benefitted personally through service to her community.
There is nothing like brightening a stranger’s day with a thank you, and a kind gesture.
The Woodville Community Library is not only a place where citizens of Woodville, WI and the surrounding area can borrow books, audio books, and movies, but it is also a community hub of information and activity.
On July 23rd, in support of United We Serve’s Community Renewal Week, Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ron Sims and Director of White House Office of Urban Affairs Adolfo Carrion teamed up with Teens 4 Good at the East Poplar Urban Farm to harvest potatoes for donation.
Governor Timothy M. Kaine of Virginia participated in two United We Serve volunteer projects at the end of July including a park clean up and weatherization of a home.
Believe me, volunteering does wonders for a wounded soul because I received far more than I gave.
The Breakthrough Leaders Program's main focus is leadership and one way we did that was by volunteering at a near by care center.
One of the most beautiful places in the Deckers Creek watershed is the scenic gorge along route 7 in Morgantown, WV. Despite the beauty found here, the area is frequently used as a dumping ground for trash.
Whole Foods shoppers know that when they donated their unwanted cell phones at Secure the Call’s collection barrels in Ann Arbor and West Bloomfield, MI that not only were they ‘greening’ their community, but they were also helping to keep the Detroit area safe.
Zenniah had the challenge and support she needed to succeed when she was a young scholar at Higher Achievement in DC. After graduating from the program, Zenniah immediately returned as a volunteer to help other young people from her community get on that same path to success.
Disheartened by the state of the local cemetary and the lost memory of past neighbors, a Sumter, SC family takes matters into their own hands.
I get an overwhelming sense of satisfaction to be able to give something back to the hospital whose dedicated employees worked so hard to give my husband his life back. They gave me my life back too.
When I arrived at work the other day (I collect tolls and distribute information at a booth along a 20-mile stretch of road that cuts through the park), a memo sat by the cash register: To: All Department of Interior Employees From: Secretary Subject: United We Serve What a revelation. Just a short time ago, I sat in an audience hearing from the First Lady about the idea that this summer, service would become an activity of all Americans. Now, two months later, a memo from the DOI Secretary announces a “call to action for all employees to participate in United We Serve and commit to a volunteer service goal this summer.”
The mission of Always Ready Kids was inspired by my Aunt Betsy who is a 9/11 survivor. Aunt Betsy was pushing the revolving door of the Center when the first plane hit. She says that what helped her survive is that she “was prepared with basic items” in her purse like a flashlight and handkerchief. Aunt Betsy is proof that preparedness saves lives.
Z, a middle school student in a Summerbridge learning program, didn't stand out. Until he started doing Calculus...
As part of ARAMARK Building Community and United We Serve's Community Renewal Issue Week, Rodney, Domonique Foxworth of the Baltimore Ravens, and 150 other ARAMARK employees spent the day volunteering at the East Baltimore Development Inc (EBDI) Community Center -- a place of great importance to Rodney.
By helping to care for others and feeding others, the love and compassion of the souls shines brightly. There is nothing more important in life than love for others.
My name is Robby Riess, Assistant Cubmaster of Pack 353 Brooklyn, NY & Brooklyn District Committee Camping Chairman. We set out to tackle the task of getting a few scouts for the much needed clean up of the shorelines of Floyd Bennett Field which impacts the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge area of Gateway National Parks.
Through our Community Emergency Response Team training, we came up with a disaster plan for our community. We have had many drills. We separate our community into six sections and send teams of two out to check approximately 50 homes per team.
In 2006, Kristin teamed up with four of her friends to start Birthday Wish. In the past two and a half years, they have helped over 80 families throw birthday parties for their children. The experience has strengthened her friendships and taught her that "young people can make a difference." She advises: "Don't think you can't get it done, don't think a task is too big and never give up."
What does "active citizenship" mean for first- and second-generation Korean Americans? What's their role in addressing social problems in their own communities? This student wants to help LA-area youth figure that out.
A little help to get back on their feet.
I started interning with New Jersey Community Water Watch , which is a program ran by AmeriCorps and NJPIRG in a joint project. The program works by informing community members and students and encouraging them to be active stewards of their local water ways.
During these past few years, I have seen several major events consisting of structure fires, vehicle accidents, vehicle fires, search & rescues and wild fires. It is teamwork that has proven time after time, that we can perform a task that sometimes leaves you wondering why risks are taken.
For three weeks, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has been collecting men's and women's business attire in an agency-wide effort to donate clothes to unemployed Americans seeking to re-join the workforce.
When NEA teachers get together for their annual conference, they don't just go to meetings. This June, over 400 college students and retired teachers affiliated with the National Education Association pitched in to revitalize an elementary school in San Diego.
These Target team members are putting their skills to work for local kids to promote education and literacy. How could you use your own talents to support a community project?
The Sons of Norway answer the President's call to service.
Students at Scituate High School decided that their school was not “green” enough and decided to take action by entering Do Something’s “Increase Your Green” competition, where students across the nation competed to see who could get their school to be the most environmentally friendly.

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