The article originally appeared in The Telegraph by Damien Fisher.
NASHUA – With fewer people volunteering for military service, and the prospect of ending Selective Service registration looming, encouraging people to service their country was a priority for the members of a federal commission visiting Nashua on Thursday.
The National Commission on Military, National and Public Service hosted an open hearing in the City Hall auditorium to discuss different ways people serve now, and different ways they can be encouraged to serve in the future. Serving the community, and the country, is a defining part of being an American, said Commissioner Alan Khazei, beginning with the many citizen-soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War.
“We are a nation built on service,” he said.
The commission was started last year by an act of Congress to investigate ways to increase both military and non-military national service as the prospect of ending Selective Service registration is considered.
Currently, every American man must register upon turning 18, or risk losing out on student loans for college, and becoming disqualified for federal jobs.
National service doesn’t have to begin and end with military service, as Khazei said more should be done to get people to sign up for programs like AmeriCorps.
Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess said there are many ways for people to help their communities and the country through voluntary service. He noted the many volunteers who held make Nashua’s Safe Stations program a reality.
“Public service is a great way to make an impact,” he said.
Jennifer McCormack, Nashua Public Library director, said the city library is a hub connecting volunteers to people in need of services. You can still check books out, get held from a research librarian, and take your kids to story time, she said.
However, you can also get help with Naturalization applications, immunization and even tax preparation through volunteer services that use the library as a focal point.
Khazei wants to see people reach out to the needs in their communities and find ways to serve. He also wants to see young people consider the PeaceCorps, AmeriCorps and other opportunities “Our vision is every American inspired to serve,” he said.
The commission is gathering data through meetings and open hearings throughout the country before issuing a report to Congress, expected in late 2019.