Young Americans today are facing the crisis of unraveling traditional communities and social structures. In fact, 1 million students drop out of school each year, and 17 percent of youth aged 16 to 24 are out of school and work.
AmeriCorps members don't take the easy road. We break tradition, and our parents' expectations, by taking a year on (it's not a year off). We serve, even if it's not the cool thing to do. We serve when it's hard -- probably because it's hard.
Prior to 9/11, our reaction to national emergency had been national service. Regrettably, the reaction to our last great national emergency has been a decade-plus of war devoid of any collective responsibility as citizens.
Millennial social entrepreneurs, impact investors, and policymakers are forging a different path forward on national service, creating a new space for "post-partisanship" -- that is, instead of left or right, the best of both worlds.
Today, less than 1 percent serve in the U.S. military. Expanding national service to include more civilian service opportunities would increase the number of Americans who experience putting a mission first and sacrificing for the greater good.
One year, one life completely changed, sculpted, molded...A year of service on the front lines, yet deep in the heart of an unknown country; full of dense jungle and far more pain, bravery, and grit then I will probably ever know.