I know this post has little to do with energy and chemicals. Except that I will never forget that my chemical engineering education at MIT was largely paid for by the GI Bill after I was discharged from the army in August 1946. A recent editorial in Time magazine caused me to reflect. Not only did the U.S. government at that time have enough money to pay for the education of millions of veterans, it also gave young men a chance to meet and serve with soldiers from many walks of life, as well as put our bodies in the best shape of our lives, assuming you came back healthy.
Time magazine and the Aspen Institute are organizing a 21st Century National Service Summit with a plan of action that provides a balance between one-year compulsory military or civilian service. The movement is headed by General Stanley McCrystal, formerly head of our armed forces in Afghanistan, and is endorsed by two former secretaries of State, Condoleezza Rice and Madeleine Albright, among many other notables.. It calls for universal national service for every 18 to 28-year old and would reinstate the GI Bill for returning veterans who want to do a year of civilian service. Every young American would have a choice of one of the five branches of the military or one of a number of civilian service corps. The initial goal is to create 1 million civilian national service workers.
In Europe, almost every country has compulsory military service for young people. There are many good reasons why the U.S. should consider such a plan. The educational opportunities, getting young, underpriviliged youths off the streets, exposing kids from wealthy families to our “underclass”, these are only three good reasons.
I hope this idea will make headway! And there would seem to be little reason for anything other than bipartisanship in Congress.