Initiative critical as country prepares for 1.5 million service members, guardsmen, and reservists to return home in the next five years
WILMINGTON, DEL. – The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the National Guard Bureau today announced a collaborative effort to place AmeriCorps members in Delaware and locations across the country as part of a new Joining Community Forces initiative.
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 P. Williams in making the announcement at the Boys and Girls Club.
The partnership will strengthen National Guard support services by providing access to the human capital of AmeriCorps VISTA members for all 54 states and territories. AmeriCorps VISTA members will help to expand the National Guard’s capacity to provide services for guardsmen and their families at risk of homelessness, joblessness, or otherwise in need of economic stability assistance.
“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 Wendy Spencer, CEO of CNCS. “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.”
“A growing concern over the past few years among military leaders is providing for the education, employment and well-being needs of currently serving military, veterans, and their families, especially those outside the gates of military installations,” said General Marianne Watson of the National Guard Bureau. “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."
“Giving back to our communities is an essential American value,” U.S. Sen. Chris 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. The projects I was proud to help announce today will make a meaningful impact in the lives of Delawareans for years to come. I look forward to seeing these programs in action and thank the volunteers who work day-in and day-out on behalf of Delaware.”
"This partnership formalizes a collective power of people helping other people in need," said Delaware Governor Jack 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 U.S. Sen. Tom 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. The AmeriCorps VISTA members join more than 4,000 CNCS-powered individuals engaged in service that benefits military families and veterans. 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, applying their leadership and organizational skills as national service participants and continuing their commitment to their country.