The Public Square

Kathleen Robbins on Universal Service


Universal Service

The draft is being talked about again today. The 60s draft was inherently unfair, giving the politically connected and economically privileged a way out while forcing the poor to serve. Today, the economic realities of our country are creating a similar situation.

For the first time since Vietnam, our military struggles to reach their recruiting goals. In April, for the 3rd month in a row, the Army failed to meet their recruitment target; the regular Army missing by 42% and the Army Reserve by 37%.

Isn't it time to rethink our idea of national service? What would our country be like if virtually all young men and women served their country in some way, just as our grandparents did following Pearl Harbor?

The time for consideration of a Universal Service policy has arrived. A policy in which all mentally and physically able young men and women between the ages of 18 to 26 would serve their country for two years, choosing among a variety of options such as the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, or the military.

By fully engaging the ideas and energy of America's young men and women, we could begin to address the unfulfilled needs of our society. At the same time, changing the face of our military that is becoming increasingly isolated from the power structure of America. Finally, it would provide an opportunity for those who serve to help to shape and build the nation in which they and their children and grandchildren will live.