This article was originally published on Cedar Valley Times and Vinton Eagle by Jim Morrison.
VINTON – A national commission visited Vinton Tuesday evening to gather information on rural needs and enhancing service programs.
The public meeting in the Wesley United Methodist Church moderated by Jeanette James was one of a two-day stop that also included Iowa City and a visit with the Iowa National Guard.
In Vinton, panel members included James, Tom Kilgannon, Alan Khazei, and Edward Allard III, members of The National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service, and former Vinton Mayor John Watson, Susan Hollenkamp, Iowa Director of AmeriCorps 4-H Outreach, and Marc Huffman, program manager for Home Base Iowa.
“We want to learn more about this community and if you think there is a need for more service to your state and to your country,” said Kilgannon during his introduction of the panel.
“For those who do serve, tell us about your experiences. What makes it special? How can it be more special? What challenges did you overcome in order to be able to do this?
“This is a conversation about the meaning and the value of service.”
The meeting is to be the only one in a rural community. Many of the commissioners had never been in a rural community before and one, Allard, who lives in Los Angeles, said he was ready to move to Iowa but his wife would have objections.
About 20 people attended the session including three who traveled to Vinton from Dubuque. A small group of AmeriCorps volunteers also attended to listen and express opinions.
Iowa is home to 11,000 military personnel, more than 200,000 veterans, 265,000 government employees and 7,600 national service participants such as Americorps and SeniorCorps, said Kilgannon.
The Commission members traveled to Chicago from Vinton for meetings the next two days.
The Commission was created by Congress to consider and develop recommendations concerning the need for a military draft, and means by which to foster a greater attitude and ethos of service among American youth. Established on Sept. 19, 2017, the Commission intends to issue its final report no later than March 2020 and conclude its work by September 2020.
It is still possible to give input by logging on to www.inspire2serve.org.