Young people should be expected to devote a full year to civilian service. In some countries, young people are expected to devote time to military service, but I believe that a single year of military service is not enough time to go through the training necessary to turn a young person from a civilian into a soldier. Thus, service in a civilian capacity is much more opportunistic. The Peace Corp, like the military, requires a longer period of time spent for training. Thus, simply serving a year is not enough time to be beneficial to either the military or the Peace Corp.
Opportunities, however, abound for civilian volunteers working within the US borders. There are thousands of immigrants who, each year, enter the United States. They need help with housing, help finding jobs, and most importantly, help with learning the English language.
As the economy has tightened, and as more two-parent families seek work outside of the family home, our society develops many more “latchkey children.” Although programs have been developed to keep kids supervised by teachers after the close of the regular school day, there are still thousands of children who roam the streets without supervision. Park districts, playgrounds, youth centers, and even religious organizations have said they will make their property available to these children. However, what is lacking are the responsible individuals necessary to provide supervision, coaching, and mentoring. Young people, having graduated from at least high school, would prove invaluable staffing these positions.
Opposite the youngest generation is the oldest generation, senior citizens. Medical marvels have allowed this older generation to live much longer than in earlier decades. Many of these senior citizens still possess the ability to be self-sufficient and choose not to waste away their remaining years in a nursing or old-folks’ home. These seniors, still holding onto their own property need help that younger people can provide. Household tasks that were once easy: climbing ladders, doing laundry, preparing meals—are now too difficult for many senior citizens. A younger person, visiting a senior citizen for just an hour a day, a couple of days a week, could make a senior’s last days much more enjoyable and much easier than when they have to fend for themselves.
The United States is a great nation, but with greatness comes an obligation. People of all generations need some help at some time in their lives. The success of every generation depends upon the helping hands of every other generation.