As the country prepares to welcome home 1.5 million military service members in the next five years, Delaware leaders unveiled a new initiative designed to benefit military families.
At the Boys and Girls Club in Wilmington, the Corporation for National and Community Service and the National Guard Bureau announced a collaborative effort to place AmeriCorps members in Delaware and across the country as part of a new Joining Community Forces initiative.
The partnership will expand the National Guard’s services by providing ‘human capital’ with help from AmeriCorps VISTA members. The extra manpower will help reach more guardsmen and their families at risk of homelessness, unemployment, or in need of financial help.
Wendy Spencer, CEO of CNCS, and Brig. Gen. Marianne E. Watson, National Guard Bureau Director of Manpower and Personnel, joined Sen. Tom Carper, Sen. Chris Coons, Gov. Jack Markell, and Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams in making the announcement on Friday.
“Today, leaders from diverse sectors – the business community, the nonprofit world, and government – unite behind a single goal: serving our nation’s veterans and military families,” said Spencer. “National service has always been about applying America’s greatest resource – our citizens – as a solution to our nation’s greatest challenges. We are honored to join with the National Guard and leaders like those here in Delaware to honor our nation’s solemn obligation to the brave men and women who have served their country.”
“AmeriCorps members have the power to support our military members and their families at the state and local level with unprecedented ‘people-power.’ As our men and women in uniform return home, it is critical that we tap into this resource, align our efforts at the national, state and local levels, and capitalize on the AmeriCorps spirit of “getting things done,”” said Gen. Watson.
“Giving back to our communities is an essential American value,” Sen. Coons said. “AmeriCorps embodies this ethic of service and community engagement and has a multiplier effect in our communities, delivering much more in benefits than the small investment we make to keep it running.”
“This partnership formalizes a collective power of people helping other people in need,” said Gov. Markell. “This initiative offers all of us a unique way to meet the needs of military families who have already sacrificed so much for their country but find themselves, for whatever reason, struggling in their current circumstance. It will show how when we work together we can make a significant difference in the lives of other people.”
In addition to the National Guard project, CNCS also announced a commitment of AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) members to the Boys and Girls Club of Delaware to help renovate and restore a former National Guard Armory in Smyrna that is now home to a Boys and Girls Club that serves military-connected children and families.
“As a 23-year veteran of the Navy, I understand the sacrifice our servicemen and women and their families make to protect and serve our country,” said Sen. Carper. “This AmeriCorps program will put resources and support behind helping the folks who deserve our thanks. The program is a win-win for Delaware and our nation.”
This announcement builds on previous efforts by CNCS to and for the military community. Approximately 1.5 million veterans and military family members were impacted by AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers last year. More than 16,000 veterans have served in AmeriCorps since its inception.
This week is AmeriCorps Week, a time to recognize and thank AmeriCorps members and alums for their commitment to service.
CNCS is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the President’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve.