Service in Spotlight as National Commission Releases Report

National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service panel on stage
Sandy Scott, CNCS Senior Advisor

Bipartisan Leaders Call National Service ‘America’s Best-Kept Secret’

National service was in the house and on the agenda Wednesday as the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service released findings from its interim report to an audience of nearly 200 leaders from the national service, military, and public sectors.

Launched in 2018, the bipartisan Commission was tasked to holistically and comprehensively review the Selective Service System and recommend policies to strengthen ethic of service and increase service opportunities in America.  

During the last year, the Commissioners visited 24 cities in 15 states, and met with more than 300 organizations to listen and learn about ways to encourage and inspire more Americans to serve. 

At every stop of the way, the Commissioners met AmeriCorps members and alums, Senior Corps volunteers, program staff, State Commissions, and others that make up our large and decentralized national service network. Corporation for National and Community Service CEO Barbara Stewart and CNCS staff from headquarters and the field have met with Commissioners and staff in Washington, D.C., and across the country.

Commission Chairman Joe Heck, a former Congressman from Nevada, kicked off the event by recognizing Harris Wofford’s extraordinary life of service and leadership in helping create and expand AmeriCorps and Senior Corps. Harris’s vision that service should be the common expectation and experience of every American illuminated the conversation and will be a source of continuing inspiration for the Commission as it moves forward.

Commissioners reported that while service is encouraged throughout our communities and country, there is no widely held expectation of service in the United States. In a country of more than 329 million people, the extraordinary potential for service is largely untapped.

The topline findings of the report included: Universal service is an ongoing conversation; Selective Service is a mystery to many; military service is a responsibility borne by few; national service is America’s best-kept secret; public service personnel practices are a barrier; and civic knowledge is critical to democracy. (You can read the full interim report here.)

During the event, AmeriCorps VISTA alum Stephanie Alphee received a Daily Point of Light award from Points of Light for her service to expand STEM education for underserved youth and ongoing volunteer service with a Baltimore youth development group. 

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The event capped off with a powerful video produced by CNCS (see above) that highlighted Senator John McCain’s lifelong dedication to service and leadership in expanding service opportunities in AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, the military.

The Commission will embark on another year of traveling and listening to the American people as it develops its final recommendations for the President, Congress and the public by March 2020. They are eager to hear ideas from all corners, and we encourage all those engaged in national service to visit their website and join the conversation.

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