A few months ago, Steve Bouser wrote an article suggesting that a compulsory service program would be good for the country.

I agree, but in doing some research, I could not find any actual program that laid out the who, what, when, where, why and how.

So, over the last four months I have put together a concept of operations which requires one year of compulsory national service for all 18-year-old Americans and immigrants.

In 2017 the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service was tasked to consider a number of issues, one of which was public service. The results were accepted by Congress in 2020 but the report completely failed to address the issue of compulsory public service.

Is there a problem to be addressed? Yes. The FBI reports 33,000 violent gangs in the United States, a total population about 1.4 million gang members, an average gang size of 42 members — and an average age of 17-18.

Now, consider the problem of school drop-outs and illiteracy. On average, 7,000 students drop out every school day, and 90 percent end up on welfare. The National Assessment of Education Program reports that 64 percent of high school graduates are below proficiency in reading and 76 percent below proficiency in math.

Then we turn to youth obesity. Obesity is a serious and costly disease. About 74 percent of adult Americans are overweight, and 42 percent of those are obese, while 21 percent aged 12-19 years are already obese.

Other factors:

n Culture: America is drowning in a culture of hate and blame and it is being passed to the next generation.

n Race: Babies are not born bigoted, they learn it. We have to influence their learning.

A Universal Service for America program will provide young adults an opportunity to be better prepared to hold good jobs and stay off welfare.

In past decades, government-run youth programs have wastefully failed America. This proposal should be organized as a federally funded, non-political, non-governmental organization. The intent is to get NGO federal funding for a national pilot program to begin June 2023.

This would be a 12-month program for those reaching age 18 by June 1 each year, or about 4 million per year. The majority will be stationed in urban areas, removed from their home of record.

Lodging, meals, uniforms, transportation and medical care will be provided, plus $500 per month. Mandatory drug testing will be the norm. This will be a no-frills experience with long work days.

A typical schedule in the mornings might look something like this: physical training, character development classes, special arrangements for school drop-outs to work toward a high school diploma, special arrangement for technical classes with local community colleges, remedial instruction in reading and math for those below proficiency, finally, an open period for guest speakers, leadership training, U.S. history, civics lectures, etc.

The afternoons, evenings and weekends will be for community service.

Character development, and thus values, are key drivers in our lives for both decision making and setting a moral compass. Here are the building blocks that would be addressed: accountability, citizenship, commitment, compassion, courage of convictions, courtesy, confidence, healthy habits, honesty, honor, humility, integrity, judgment, leadership, morality, perseverance, punctuality, respect, responsibility, self-respect, selfless service, sportsmanship and trust.

There will always be a perfect source of men and women to become leaders and staff for Universal Service for America. Annually, the Defense Department retires thousands of men and women who have just finished 20-25 years of service, are looking for a second career and all have four things in common: They are proven leaders; they have years of experience teaching and training; they understand standards; and have spent two decades in a totally integrated multi-racial environment with an overarching value base of accountability, respect and trust.

The mission for Universal Service for America is to annually engage all 18-year-old Americans in a program that will enhance their education, develop character, strengthen their self-determination and set in motion a lifelong appreciation for community service.

This would be expensive but will not be an expense; it will be an investment that will transform America and will be looked upon as a “rite of passage” for all Americans.

If goodness, and hence greatness, is to be regained, it will be accomplished one person at a time through character development and a culture shift from blame and hate to accountability, trust and respect.

For a deeper understanding, email me at MandDcovault@yahoo.com for a full copy of the plan.

Want to get involved? Talk up the subject with friends and neighbors and forward a copy to your email list and your congressmen and women.

Marvin L. Covault, Lt Gen U.S. Army, retired, is the author of “Vision to Execution,” a book for leaders.

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(11) comments

Matthew Hintz

I served for 28 years, starting at the age of 17. So my children wouldn't have to. No thank you. America, means liberty, freedom. If our cause is just and righteous, people will volunteer. If not, they won't, Right now, America is not just and far from righteous. We better wake up and correct course, because #FAFO is not far away.

ken leary

One problem with your plan General is that you want an opportunity to mold young minds and bodies through an obligatory year of propaganda. Your motive, while possibly unconscious, is understandable under the circumstances as we have a fantasy about ourselves that requires a willing suspension of disbelief, and that requires some serious “doublespeak.” Considering this, how do you ‘teach’ accountability, honor, honesty, humility, integrity or compassion when our “leadership” demonstrates a counterproductive and shameful lack of any of these qualities. As has been continuously demonstrated by our "leadership," instead of honestly evaluating situations , or conditions, they lie, deceive, and flail about in a desperate effort to maintain an illusion of decency. So General, how would you go about developing the “character” of your cadets? Would you tell them the truth regarding the lies that were promulgated to encourage our involvement in the Middle East? How will we handle our sadistic torture program and our covering up of civilian murders? Of course this is just rhetorical nonsense because I know the answer, we will lie, cheat, and steal, but in doublespeak this translates to Truth, Justice, and the American way and I suspect any program you are involved in will enhance that objective. If by any chance you are able to bring this plan to fruition, I would be available to teach a history course. Keep me in mind.

Matthew Hintz

Mr. Leary, you are speaking the truth.

Sally Larson

Interesting idea but it seems that making anything mandatory these days brings out the drama queens.

Matthew Hintz

Mrs. Larson, you are the expert.

Kent Misegades

All these things are the jobs of parents, periods. Why should I have to pay for their failure in feeding and educating their children and not preparing them for independence at age 18. Mennonites and Amish do it well, amd reject all forms of government meddling in their lives. Their population doubled every 39 years. Everything points to the stability of the nuclear family and following God’s rules and purpose for our lives. Things started going downhill when progressives abandoned these basic truths.

Jim Tomashoff

"Why should I have to pay for their failure in feeding and educating their children..." Remember, Kent's a self-described "Christian." Can't you just see Christ saying something along these lines? I can't.

Roger Davis

Interesting how most people don't mind training, feeding, clothing the military, and unless they get a better education many come out of the military only knowing only how to shoot a gun. And since when does believing in God have anything to do with being a good responsible citizen? Lots of God-believing people support politicians who are not real believers. I can think of one in particular who doesn't know the top side of the bible.

Mark Hayes

Interesting comment, " knowing only how to shoot a gun. " [huh]

Matthew Hintz

Mr. Davis, you seem to be a little bit clueless.

Matthew Hintz

Absolute Truth Mr. Kent. We removed God the father, and Fathers from the lives of our children. Now we are experiencing the consequence of that reality.

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