America works best when every individual is invested in a positive vision for our collective future. That demands active citizenship built around the responsibility to serve. We, the sponsors and the undersigned—all veterans of military service or members of military families— believe that universal voluntary national service would ensure that young people grow up as responsible, engaged citizens, not just individuals.
THERE SHOULD BE AN OPPORTUNITY—AND EXPECTATION—THAT EVERY YOUNG AMERICAN SERVES THEIR COUNTRY FOR A YEAR.
Some individuals may not be eligible, or may simply choose not to serve in the military; they should be encouraged to seek opportunities in civilian service instead. They would serve full-time as civilians some time in the decade they enter adulthood, between when they are 18 and 28 and receive a modest stipend. Such national service, in one of a range of opportunities from education to conservation, from AmeriCorps to the Peace Corps, would be voluntary—not legally required—but instead culturally expected.
THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO SERVE YOUR COUNTRY; MILITARY AND CIVILIAN NATIONAL SERVICE ARE TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN.
Service is required to create the citizens our country needs. The military alone cannot—and should not—provide all the service opportunities required. Many young Americans will serve as civilians. As veterans of the military, we recognize that military and civilian service are part of a continuum of national service.