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by
Rebecca L.

By Joseph Clay, Former U.S. Marine Serves Tulsa Youth in AmeriCorps

On Veterans Day 2015, CNCS CEO Wendy Spencer joined Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett in honoring veterans serving in AmeriCorps and Senior Corps at a Veterans Corps ceremony in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  One of the veterans she met that day was Joseph Clay, a former Marine Corps Sergeant now serving in AmeriCorps through Teach For America.  This is Joseph’s story.

My name is Joseph Clay, and I was, and
always will be, a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps. I served my
country in war time, running combat operations as an Infantry Marine in Iraq. My
time in the Marine Corps was one of the most influential times in my life. It
molded me into a warrior and into a man of conviction. I wear that pride on my
sleeve as I continue to serve as a teacher in one of the highest needs areas in
the country – Tulsa, Oklahoma. I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue my
service in the classroom where my experience can impact the lives of children
who deserve a quality education.My life has been a test of intestinal
fortitude and sacrifice. My story is unique to me, yet I see aspects of my
experience and identity shared with so many of my students. I grew up living in
poverty and now I serve a student population living in under-resourced
communities where violence is an everyday norm. I lost my father to a motorcycle
accident as a young child. Many of my students have only one parent at home. Like
my students, I tried to endure the challenges of poverty, but dreamed of one
day changing my reality. These shared experiences are why the work I do is so
important to who I am, and why I went into a life of service that started in
the Marine Corps and has led me to Teach For America and AmeriCorps.In the Marine Corps I served my nation
with honor. I also served alongside some of the greatest men I have ever known.
I believed in the spirit of America, and because of that belief I swore to a
life of service to defend my country against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
It was with that purpose in mind that I fought in the Iraq war.  Sixteen of my brothers never made it home. I
carry their memory with me every day in the classroom as I fight today to end
educational inequity.June 16, 2006, was the day that changed
who I was as a person and ensured that the sacrifice of others would live on in
my heart. I lost two of my best friends that day to an explosion. My vehicle
was one of three that struck Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs, in an
ambush outside of Ramadi, and what followed is forever ingrained in my mind. Many
in our convoy were killed and all were injured. It is that day that pushes me
to bring the message of freedom and equality with me in everything that I do.
Those men believed in our nation, and that day my mission to deliver their
message to others began. I sustained an injury, but I walked away. That injury is
a reminder every day of my life that I was one of the lucky ones. It is with that
mentality that I approach my service to this country, from the classroom and
beyond.Few things have the power to unleash a
child’s potential and open the doors of opportunity like an excellent
education. As a teacher, I can help my students break free from the cycle of
poverty and set their sights on any future they envision for themselves.
Joining Teach For America has allowed me to carry on my friends’ legacy as I impact
the lives of Tulsa’s youth every day as a math teacher at East Central High
School. I am proud to be a 2014 corps member and am one of a growing number of
veterans serving as AmeriCorps members in Teach For America. I encourage my
fellow veterans to join the fight to give our nation’s youth the education they
deserve. As I’ve seen among my fellow Marines, military veterans have a unique
experience and leadership ability that can add real value to the classroom. I get the chance to live the memory of
my fallen brothers in the classroom. Their sacrifice continues to motivate me
to make a difference and their love of our country and its opportunities push
me to be a better person in everything that I do. I am a proud member of
AmeriCorps; I served America, now I teach for America. Semper Fidelis!Joseph
Clay, former Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, serves as an AmeriCorps
members with Teach For America in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Keywords: Teach For America, AmeriCorps, VetCorps
It seems improbable in a country where 90 million of its citizens are battling obesity that 49 million are also having food security issues, however, that’s the reality in the United States today. And more than 16 million of our most-vulnerable residents -- America’s children --are paying the price.
The Service News Digest is a regular feature on the Serve.Gov blog. In this series, we showcase news highlights that feature national service and Corporation for National and Community Service programs. Take a look at some of the great stories that had people talking recently.
The opportunity for a diverse group of college kids to join together and work toward a single purpose is something that should not be taken for granted. Imagine a world in which this generation -- from both religious and nonreligious backgrounds -- comes together to serve their communities.
First Lady Michelle Obama is leading the U.S. Delegation to the 2012 Olympic Games and she's calling on families around the country to support Team USA, not just by cheering on our athletes, but by getting active in their own communities.
Earlier this summer, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the graduation of 22 Green City Force AmeriCorps members in New York City. Green City Force recruits young adults, ages 18-24, who are currently unemployed or underemployed high school graduates or GED-holders from low-income neighborhoods.
The Service News Digest is a regular feature on the Serve.Gov blog. In this series, we showcase news highlights that feature national service and Corporation for National and Community Service programs. Take a look at some of the great stories that had people talking recently.
Americans produce more food, eat more of it (check out our obesity rates), and waste more by sending it to landfills. Finding healthy, affordable food should not be a problem in the United States. But it is.
Travis is a single father of two from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Since 2008, Travis had bounced between part-time and temporary jobs. His wages had peaked at around $10 per hour, though he needed at least $12-$14 an hour to support his family. With limited interviewing and workforce experience, he didn't think he would ever find full-time work – let alone have a career.
The Service News Digest is a regular feature on the Serve.Gov blog. In this series, we showcase news highlights that feature national service and Corporation for National and Community Service programs. Take a look at some of the great stories that had people talking recently.
Summer learning loss is a growing problem for American children but there is a simple solution. Research shows that reading just five books during the summer can help kids stay on the path to academic success during the next school year.
Josh, 45, was one of the millions of Americans suffering from a mental illness, but he was not receiving treatment. He was unemployed and living in a halfway house, and he could hardly find the motivation to do the dishes or leave his room.
In October 2003, 14-year-old Madison Woytovich was having her hair braided by her mother, Betsy, when large chunks of Madison’s hair began falling out. During the next seven weeks, 75 percent of her hair disappeared.
Imagine what would happen if the marketing experts behind your favorite Super Bowl ad developed a campaign to help a nonprofit recruit volunteers or raise awareness of an important national issue. Or if the engineers at a leading technology company volunteered as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) tutors at a local school.
Stephen Packard, 24, could have taken his degree in Economics from the University of Connecticut and found a comfortable desk job. Instead, he opted for a more adventurous path when he joined AmeriCorps NCCC. Never did he imagine he'd one day be working on the front lines of Colorado's biggest wildfire in history, sleeping just feet from the flames.
The school year is over, but that's not an excuse to let your child's brain and body take the summer off. Inspired by the First Lady's Let's Move initiative, the Corporation for National and Community Service's Let's Read. Let's Move. calls on all Americans to combat summer reading loss and childhood obesity through service this summer.
It's the time of year when parents worry about summer learning loss and getting the kids off the couch. Good news! There is a fun and free way to exercise a child's mind and body – your neighborhood playground.
As we celebrate the 4th of July, we celebrate our patriotism and the millions who have shown their love of country by wearing the uniform. There are a few Veterans among us -- 16,000 so far -- who came home and volunteered for a second time and served their communities though AmeriCorps.
Recent wildfires have threatened communities across Colorado and the Southwest and national service has been working day and night to help put out the flames and support survivors.
Nursing homes can be scary places for the residents as they yearn for companionship in a situation that doesn’t bring frequent visitors. Knowing those often-unfilled needs of the elderly led Rachel Doyle to turn her focus to improving this situation.
The Service News Digest is a regular feature on the Serve.Gov blog. In this series, we showcase news highlights that feature national service and Corporation for National and Community Service programs. Take a look at some of the great stories that had people talking recently.
John Urbigkit has service in his blood. He has volunteered as an EMT medic, Boy Scout leader and even earned a Purple Heart for his service in the Korean War. But it is his role as a Senior Corps volunteer with the Southeast Wyoming Foster Grandparent Program that earned this community hero a distinguished honor that brought him to Washington, DC.
America's children continue to struggle with summer learning loss and childhood obesity. As part of the effort to battle this problem, the Corporation for National and Community Service continues our Let's Read. Let's Move. initiative for the summer of 2012.
When 5-year old Andy Fass attended his first baseball game, it was hard to imagine it would change his life. But a chance meeting with legendary Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte gave Fass the desire to try a game he thought he would never play.
Stefanie Dwyer’s childhood in East Berlin before the fall of the Berlin Wall shaped her future in a unique way. After growing up in a country that had many limitations, Dwyer held on to memories of horseback riding that inspired her to bring that sense of freedom to people with physical and mental challenges.
Alison's daily struggles while raising two young children made her dream of a college degree seem unobtainable. But things began to turn around when the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) in Washington, DC connected her with a Promotor.
Jorge Muñoz's 2004 encounter with homeless day laborers sounds like the pivotal moment in the latest feel-good movie. But the “Angel in Queens” wouldn't be providing up to 140 meals nightly if the need in their words didn't resonate with him: “If we have a job, we will get money to eat tonight; if not, we don't eat anything.”
Once again the Corporation for National and Community Service is collaborating with the New York Yankees during its fourth annual HOPE Week (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) June 25-29 as the baseball franchise recognizes acts of goodwill and the hope and encouragement they provide.
The Coulee Region RSVP in La Crosse, Wisconsin, collaborates with Gundersen Lutheran Health System's environmental stewardship program to mitigate some of the waste that was being sent to the county's landfill and reuse the material to help others in the hospital.
The Service News Digest is a regular feature on the Serve.Gov blog. In this series, we showcase news highlights that feature national service and Corporation for National and Community Service programs. Take a look at some of the great stories that had people talking recently.
More than 50 years ago, a group of young African-American college students staged a sit-in to demand service at a whites-only lunch counter in Greensboro, NC , and sparked a youth movement throughout the country. As the sit-ins spread, some young people were beaten and even arrested, but they were not deterred. As a result, they helped end racial segregation in America, and showed the world how youth determination and leadership can make a difference.

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