31 Dec 2019

MEMO TO                            National Commission on Service

FROM                                    Major General John Borling (USAF-r), Founder, SOS America

SUBJECT                               Input to Final Report

“Who Talked to the President Last” is a fun and insightful book of the 70’s that has currency today given this last day for public comment. 

Much like the staffing  of a major Presidential speech, the ‘fight’ to get a concept or even a few lines inserted is an all-consuming task involving whole departments and, certainly, in my experience,  key staff at the White House.  Scratchings are made to the last moment.

This memo is a commended scratching that bears on national renewal in the spirit of John Gardner and, certainly, in the spirit of the Commission.  Current All Volunteer Force (AVF) requirements, structure and organization are conserved.

 SOS America (Service over Self) advocates, ‘given demand’ from the Services, Guard, Reserve and Federal and State Agencies, a one year, voluntary, military service program for young adults in the 18-25 age range.  Legislation is required and DOD would be the executive agent.  The current Selective Service System would be maintained (or enlarged) to assist in 18-25 cohort management.

We have tested and polled the concept and specifics nationwide and find 78% support from the age 50 and over group (actually it favors ‘mandatory’ and two year service) with solid majority support from the 26-50 age group (the parents if you will).  The 18-25 cohort breaks into 4 segments; young men, 18-20, (20 percent support), those, 21-25, (majority support), young women, 18-25, (express reluctance to ‘be in the military’ but want the option to be open and have definite thoughts about ‘the men’). 

Young women, 18-20, are forceful in their majority estimation that the young men should serve because it will ‘make men out of them’.  Young women, 21-25, do not favor any program taking young men away for a year.  When pressed as to rationale, it came down to ‘biology matters most”. 

The proposal  for  one year of voluntary  service in a small unit for those physically and mentally able to take care of themselves (versus AVF requirements) providing for a mix of  geography, ages (so important) and backgrounds seems simple enough but the details are more complex in order to insure practicability from a cost and benefit standpoint.    There is abundant detail at www.sosamerica.org  understanding that the legislative process will be determinant.  To begin, a pilot program is recommended.  Finally, the overall aim is about nation building in America. 

Recommend:  Circulation of this memo to staff and Commissioners, Review of the SOS America site and inclusion in the final report the words (or ideas) bolded in paragraphs four and seven above.  Thank you and Happy New Year.