Congressman Sarbanes, CNCS Announce New National Vet Corps Initiative
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps, today announced a new national initiative called Vet Corps, which will recognize veterans who have continued serving their country as civilians through AmeriCorps and Senior Corps. The initiative also recognizes individuals who serve veterans and military families.
Vet Corps will unite nearly 27,000 veterans from all eras – from World War II to the Vietnam War to the first Gulf War and the most recent Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts – who have dedicated themselves to public service as AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members. Vet Corps members serve at hundreds of VA clinics and hospitals, and at veteran service organizations and nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity and Teach For America, among others. Many of the most successful program models include veterans helping fellow veterans. These Vet Corps members connect veterans to job opportunities, help them access their benefits, provide peer counseling and mentor military kids.
As part of National Vet Corps, Vet Corps members will be presented with a special pin by members of Congress and other leaders at Veterans Day ceremonies.
“Commitment to public service is a common thread that unites us all as Americans,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “I’m honored to recognize veterans who’ve gone above and beyond to continue serving our nation as civilians by joining AmeriCorps and Senior Corps. By offering their leadership skills, strong work ethic and dedication to service, these veterans are making America’s communities stronger.”
“Our commitment to veterans and their families is deep and it's twofold: We serve them, and we ask them to serve with us. Both strategies have tremendous benefits and results,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “Veterans bring unique skills and leadership to solve problems at home. National service gives our heroes a new mission on the homefront, a pathway to opportunity and a better transition to civilian life.”
Congressman Sarbanes is a longtime advocate for veterans and national service programs. In 2009, he authored a piece of legislation to create a Vets Corps program within AmeriCorps that later became a critical piece of the bipartisan Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which made veterans and military families an agency priority for CNCS. The agency’s commitment is twofold: to tap the skills and leadership abilities of veterans to serve in AmeriCorps and Senior Corps and to expand the range of services national service programs provide to veterans and military families.
National service is a unique and effective way to tap the talent and leadership skills of veterans to solve problems at home, and veterans of all ages have demonstrated a desire to serve their country both in and out of the service and this continues to be true for our youngest generation of veterans. A landmark report by Civic Enterprises found that younger veterans are eager to continue serving, and that veterans who volunteer have more successful transitions to civilian life than those who do not.
This is also proven true in national service programs, like AmeriCorps. CNCS surveys have shown that AmeriCorps members reported that participation in national service helped them reconnect with community activities in civilian life. Additional field research by CNCS has shown that veterans and their families are more likely to accept assistance offered by an individual affiliated with the military than a well-intentioned civilian, so the distinctive national service model – Vets helping Vets – has seen tremendous success.