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 — believe that universal voluntary national service would ensure that young people grow up as responsible, engaged citizens, not just individuals.
1. 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.
2. There are many ways to serve you 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.
See a list of some of the distinguished veterans who have signed the pledge.
If you represent an MSO, VSO, or other military-affiliated organization and would like to work with us, please contact [email protected].