Back in February 2015, the Joint Chiefs of Staff signed a letter urging transitioning military servicemen and women to continue serving the nation as civilians in their communities and their new jobs. The letter, which is now referred to as “The Call to Continued Service,” was intended as a rallying call for veterans to seize opportunities to make a difference and apply their intrinsic leadership skills to establish rapport within civilian communities.
The Call to Continued Service isn’t a novel idea. Inspired by a letter issued by Gen. Jonathan Wainwright to discharged U.S. troops at the end of World War II, the Joint Chiefs’ 2015 letter–like Wainwright’s–implored American veterans to “start being a leader as soon as you put on your civilian clothes.”
It’s only logical that veterans would seek a similar sense of purpose and mission-oriented work in their civilian communities as they experienced through their service in the military. There are many opportunities for veterans to contribute leadership and continue serving here at home. Below I take a closer look at five public service opportunities that are geared specifically toward veterans.
As one of the largest federal agencies, CNCS provides millions of opportunities for Americans to serve through improving the lives of their fellow citizens. CNCS recently launched the National Veterans Corps to honor and recognize the veterans who continue to serve the nation as AmeriCorps members in underserved communities.
The U.S. National Park Service is currently recruiting veterans to take part in the work of protecting, restoring, and rebuilding America’s natural and cultural resources. Through a public private partnership with the National Park Foundation, Boeing, and The Mission Continues (another noteworthy veterans’ service program), The National Park Foundation is hiring returning veterans for its newly-established Veterans in Parks Program. The new veteran-oriented initiative is part of the National Park Foundation’s Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks.
For veterans interested in foreign policy, or for those who would like to serve their country in a diplomatic role, Veterans in Global Leadership offers fellowship opportunities to high-achieving student veterans. These fellowships provide an incredible learning experience, preparing and grooming veterans through a series of internships that facilitate their eventual entry into foreign policy. Veteran fellows are also exposed to opportunities to network with scholars and experienced diplomats who have influenced foreign policy in a meaningful and positive way.
Team Rubicon recruits veterans for disaster relief efforts. With their bent toward leadership and teamwork, veterans tend to excel at bringing order and solace to disaster zones. Many have served as engineers, network specialists, or satellite experts. For example, a water filtration specialist can fix a damaged well in a remote rural area; a logistics officer will know how to get equipment there. Team Rubicon trains veteran volunteers to fulfill a clearly defined role. The program operates with the knowledge that veterans know how to lead, follow, and work in a system. These skills are essential in chaotic situations like disaster zones.
Founded in 1993, Troops to Teachers was established to assist transitioning service men and women who are interested in careers in education. For veterans who want to become K-12 school teachers at public, charter, or Bureau of Indian Affairs schools, Troops To Teachers provides counseling and referral services for veterans to help them meet state education and licensing requirements to teach. The program also helps participating veterans secure a teaching position upon completion of the program. Since its inception, Troops To Teachers has helped over 20,000 veterans successfully transition to careers in education.