Army General Stan McChrystal (ret) sits down with WATM for a discussion about national service
McChrystal Tells WATM Editor-in-Chief Ward Carroll that the American Concept of Citizenship has Deteriorated to an Alarming Degree
Hollywood, CA (April 2, 2015) – We Are The Mighty (WATM), the military community's entertainment and lifestyle media brand, recently sat down with General Stanley C. McChrystal (Ret.) for a conversation about America's need for national service and how such a program would be instituted.
McChrystal, who was in New Hampshire earlier this week talking about national service and challenging Presidential candidates to make a serious commitment to national service in the upcoming election, is currently the Chair of the Franklin Project at the Aspen Institute. The Franklin Project aims to make a year of full-time national service – a service year – a cultural expectation, common opportunity, and civic rite of passage for every young American. The project doesn't have designs on being mandatory like the military draft but rather on creating an atmosphere of national expectation based on the value of a year of national service.
McChrystal, who led the war effort in Afghanistan from 2009-2010, feels strongly that the concept of citizenship has deteriorated in America. He expressed concern that without a program to create a shared sense of unity, the nation's binding principles will erode.
"We have to give more young Americans the opportunity to show the responsibility we want citizens to have," McChrystal said.
McChrystal's approach to the problem is based on his own service in the U.S. Army. "I found out from my military service that [a sense of citizenship] grows in you from practice," McChrystal said. "I didn't enter West Point at 17 years old because I had this burning desire to serve the nation . . . What I found is we have the opportunity to be part of something bigger and to contribute to it and sometimes to sacrifice for it. It causes in you a different sense of commitment to that larger idea."
McChrystal also spoke about the importance of building in incentives to the national service infrastructure by working with the private sector and universities. "The idea is to build a system with not just altruism," McChrystal explained. "We have to build a value proposition. [Participants] would have advantages with employers and admissions to universities . . . The business gets a more experienced person and the university gets a slightly more mature freshman."
The Franklin Project is a new venture by the Aspen Institute to marshal the best case for a voluntary civilian counterpart to military service in the United States. At the 2012 Aspen Ideas Festival, General Stanley McChrystal called for large-scale civilian national service to engage more Americans in serving community and country. The Franklin Project believes national service can and should become a common expectation and common opportunity for all Americans to strengthen our social fabric and solve our most pressing national challenges. To realize this vision, the Franklin Project engages outstanding Americans from the private sector, higher education, government, the military, the faith community, the philanthropy, and nonprofit organizations, to develop innovative policy ideas and to build momentum around advancing a new vision of civilian service for the 21st century. www.franklinproject org @FranklinProj
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