Invest In And Motivate Our Young People To Pay It Forward

Invest In And Motivate Our Young People To Pay It Forward

The history of the United States is replete with examples of citizens performing selfless acts for others simply to do the right thing. Part of our military's ethos has always been to act as a team to defend the country no matter the danger. Also to leave no man behind. Their very service is based on risking their lives in defense of the rest of the population. The Peace Corps was formed for the expressed purpose of providing assistance and training to the populations of underdeveloped countries around the world. The U.S. tax code greatly encourages charitable contributions and gift giving to coax American citizens to give to others.

My proposal is that we continue and strengthen the aformentioned examples of American selflessness by adding a program to assist the downtrodden amongst us within the United States. I will flesh out this program later in the article. I will also detail how I would upgrade veterans benefit programs to honor their service as well as adding a benefit to Peace Corps volunteers. My ultimate aim is to stimulate this innate benevelovence that Americans possess. I believe this could be key in easing several problems the U.S. faces as well as reinforcing the American sense of exceptionalism.

The United States Military Forces are asked to sacrifice much and perform countless functions around the world while often exposing themselves to grave danger. Service such as this should be honored and rewarded with benefits beyond what most other citizens receive. We have heard and read about a myriad of stories about Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals in horrible states of disrepair. I cannot fathom how we can allow these conditions to develop and persist. Medical facilities for both veterans and active military personnel should always be maintained in a state of the art manner regardless of the expense. I also believe they should be expanded to better serve our ever expanding group of veterans coming out of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Furthermore, I would strengthen their healthcare plans to match the elite plan that the Congress enjoys. I do not begrudge the Congress for having this plan. They serve the public at a salary far below what most of them would receive in the private sector. I unlike most people feel they perform a difficult and important job. But our military perform services to our country far beyond this at enormous personal risk for a fraction of the wages. Therefore they deserve no less a comprehensive healthcare plan than what our congressional representatives receive.

The GI Bill education plan has been one of the most outstanding benefits our country has bestowed upon its military forces. This plan was first instituted towards the end of World War II and was reinforced by the new GI BIll which was launched on August 1, 2009. It grants the soldier or veteran tuition and fees up to the maximum public school in-state amount. This also includes a housing allowance and a book stipend. Our soldiers and veterans richly deserve these wonderful benefits and more for risking their lives in defense of the United States. They deserve nothing less and I would seek to strengthen their benefits across the board.

The Peace Corps is a wonderful volunteer organization created by the Kennedy adminstration in 1961 to promote peace and friendship throughout the world. It was organized to attract young people to act on their sense of altruism to help others. They would also gain valuable experience while performing these humanitarian services. The only real worker benefit they receive is to have their student loans deferred until after they complete their Peace Corps service. I realize that the Peace Corps does not face the same life threatening situations that the military faces. Nor do they put their lives on hold to the same extent as the military. But I feel the work they do abroad is extremely valuable to both the countries they work in and to the reputation and prestige of the United States.

Therefore I feel they should receive a good deal of assistance towards paying off their student loans. I believe this is the least we can do for these selfless Peace Corps volunteers. Two years service is the minimum that a volunteer is required to serve. Five years is the maximum. I would create a sliding scale for the U.S. government to pay off a volunteer's student loans. After the mandatory two years of service, 25% of the total loan liability would be paid off by the government. I would place a $100,000 ceiling on the amount the government would pay off. 50% after three years, 75% after four years, and finally 100% of the student loan would be paid off after the maximum five years of service up to $100,000. My belief is that these idealistic young graduates who are willing to help others richly deserve this benefit. This will also allow the U.S. government to recruit more volunteers and thus be able to perform more assistance around the world while building more good will. College tuition and board expense has become prohibitively high. We would be helping these volunteers handle their considerable student loan expense but not as a hand out. As you can see, everyone wins with this benefit and this program.

Finally, I would like to explore a new program that I am proposing. It is based on the Peace Corps model but it would be aimed domestically. The program would be called (HELP) which would stand for Homeland Enhancement Leadership Program. Many of the poorer areas of the United States both in urban settings and remote rural regions have a paucity of resources. This causes a shortfall in education, healthcare, civil engineering, and social services to name a few. Our young recent college graduates have learned the skills to help these poor communities address their shortfalls in these areas. Most of these graduates as I described earlier, have a very onerous burden of student loans which they acquired while learning these valuable skills. Doesn't it make sense to merge these two needs together to create a program that satisfies both.

My HELP program proposal does this perfectly. College graduates would be able to sign up for this program and be assigned to any district in the United States where their area of expertise is needed. In return, these graduates would receive the minimum wage or slightly above depending on the cost of living in that locale. They would also be allowed the benefit of the U.S. government repaying some or all of their student loans along the same lines as I proposed for Peace Corps volunteers.

Healthcare would generally not be an issue for most of these graduates since they would still be on their parents healthcare plans. But I would like to see the government enhance their plans to provide coverage for any gaps. This would be similar to what elderly medicare recipients do. Those young adult HELP volunteers who do not have access to a parent's plan should then receive some form of healthcare coverage from the HELP program. I believe this should hold true for Peace Corps volunteers also.

This HELP program makes sense since our recent graduates need experience, security, and financial relief just as they start out on their professional life. Our poorer communities need enormous assistance due to their lack of resources. This seems like a marriage made in heaven in my estimation.

I believe very strongly in the spirit of the people of the United States. The sense of brotherhood and fidelity that exists in all of us and especially within our youth is rarely tapped into. We have enormous problems facing us after the deep economic recession of 2008-2009. State and local governments are incurring huge revenue shortfalls. This in turn is leading to massive municipal layoffs around the country. Services are then drastically cut. Unfortunately the need for these services does not decrease and in fact increases greatly due to the economic downturn.

At this same moment, a large amount of college graduates are coming on to an anemic job market. They desperately need employment so that they can begin to pay off their student loans. As a result, a large amount of our citizenry goes without needed services or services at reduced levels. At the same time recent college graduates are unemployed. Their student loans go into deficit or default. Who wins while these two situations persist? No one does. The United States needs to come up with creative solutions to solve many of its problems.

My idea for this HELP program creates a very simple and obvious solution. This along with the benefits enhancements I propose for our Military Forces and the Peace Corps will lead to the easing of our municipal services problem. Young adult unemployment and student loan defaults should decrease. This is also the right thing to do for these altruistic heroes. Let's create a greater society by giving our outstanding citizens the opportunity to shine. Our country will be better for it and many of our problems will begin to fade away.

More by this Author


Comments 26 comments

My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 5 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

Excellent Hub! I agree entirely. For the domestic program, have you looked at Americorp? I think the forgiveness of student loans is a wonderful idea as well. As you know, the VA is a political football. Under Reagan, the VA went to hell, Clinton built them to a Class I, well respected operation. They began to deteriorate again under Bush the younger again to their current state.


HSchneider 5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

Thank you for pointing out Americorps to me. That program is along the lines of the HELP program that I propose but on a much smaller scale. I would make this domestic program and the Peace Corps into major operations with first class benefits especially in education. The conditions that President Bush II turned Walter Reed hospital and other VA facilities into apalled me to no end. This man who got out of most of his military duty sent us into Iraq for no true reason. Then he had the nerve to allow these fine soldiers to suffer in those conditions. Absolutely horrible. I never served but I have the utmost respect for those who did. You and other military veterans deserve the best care and benefits the government can give as gratitude for your service.


Jillian Barclay profile image

Jillian Barclay 5 years ago from California, USA

Again and as usual, you have come up with a great idea! I wish that those with the power were as thoughtful and as deliberate in their thinking as you are. The program you propose is much needed and would produce incredibly positive results! We certainly need help at home right now!


HSchneider 5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

Thank you Jillian. It just makes sense. Communities need a lot of help while recent graduates need debt relief and experience. It seems like a no-brainer to me.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 5 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

Well said Jillian. In my day, Vietnam, the VA hospital system made today's system look like heaven on earth. You will have to come up with new terms to describe how dismal it was HS. The props I am going to have to give President Bush and the Right-wing is the respect for the troops they have engendered and maintained among the American people. Obviously, 9/11 kicked-started it but they have maintained it even after Americans got sicker of the Iraq war than they did Vietnam. The thing that hurt the most in 1973, when I came back to the States, and still hurts now is the low regard we were held in by both the people and the government of the United States. We were, and still are, forgotten.

An interesting factoid about me you might find interesting that you probably would guess from my hubs is that I was a strong supporter of our involvement in Vietnam back then and still am now, but with a caveat; I was just as strongly opposed to the second invasion of Iraq (I supported the first), and I strongly support Bush's initial response into Afgahnistan and Obama's surge there now.


HSchneider 5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

It was reprehensible what this country did to you and your fellow Vietnam vets. One can oppose a war and still support the troops. Troops follow orders as they should and lay their lives down for us. As far as today's VA system,I'm sorry but I do not think we have the vocabulary for me to accurately describe it. I agree with you that the Bush Administration gave the troops their proper respect. I do criticize them for allowing hospitals such as Walter Reed fall into such decay. I also have to fault them for being so ill-prepared for the aftermath of the initial invasion and ousting of the Sadaam regime. This includes the lack of proper tank armor and body armor. I'd like to ask you something since you are much more wired into the system than I am. How well has the Obama Administration in your estimation done in improving the VA system? I know that Michelle Obama has made the families of the military a major issue for her. Thank you in advance for your input. We need to fix that system extensively and pronto.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 5 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

You are spot on HS. You might be interested in a spirited debate I got going on a hub by Brie Hoffman on "Gun Control Doesn't Work". Cmerritt jump in on her side as well. We don't see quite eye to eye, lol.


HSchneider 5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

I'll check it out. Thanks.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa

This sounds like a wonderful proposal. Obviously I'm not familiar with all the ins and outs of the VA system and other things you mention but I strongly support the idea of capitalising on the idealism of young graduates. In South Africa we have many decaying systems which could be fixed if young people were encouraged to engage with these systems in creative ways. Unfortunately I think bureaucratic thinking always gets in the way and messes things up!

Thanks for an interesting read

Love and peace

Tony


HSchneider 5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

Thank you Tony. My essential idea is to tap into our young people's idealism and marrying it to their deep need to pay off their student loans. We also have decaying structures as well as much poverty. Our colleges and universities also cost a huge amount in tuition and board. Let's allow our graduates to help serve our country and at the same time pay down their debt. It sounds like common sense to me.


Fay Paxton 5 years ago

This is an excellent article and a testament to not only your intellect but your benevolent spirit...which makes you unfit to serve in political office. (I was going to suggest it). :)

Didn't this administration have something called "The Serve America Act"? Of course it was called servitude and the educational component was referred to as indoctrination, so I don't remember what became of it. But the idea was that students would volunteer to work in particular areas in lieu of their students loans or something along that line. I'll have to look it up and get back to you, or perhaps someone who responds will know the answer. At any rate, you have an excellent idea.

voted way up and useful.


HSchneider 5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

Thank you Fay for your comments and on your "The Serve America" Act point. I looked this up and it was an Act that passed in 2009 originally proposed by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. It seems to expand upon a lot of other service programs increasing grants and scholarships for them. This is great but I would rather have one overarching program that emphasizes the student loan repayment component along with the sense of community giveback and volunteerism. These programs are so defused that many people, including myself, either did not know about them or forgot about them.


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago

Wonderful hub with excellent points. If only we can implement it. Thanks for a thought provoking article.


HSchneider 5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

Thank you Toknowinfo. I wish we could also but I think with our budget deficit difficulties, it is a longshot at best.


MobyWho profile image

MobyWho 5 years ago from Burlington VT

Where do we go from here? How do the ideas (great!) get implemented? Line up Congresspeople to propose legislation? Do we have a leader to get some action going? Are there already groups working on these different proposals that we can help?

The Peace Corps was a great idea, but they didn't even take care of volunteers who got sick on the job (from parasites, bacteria, etc.) They just sent them home without any medical help. Bummer. That was in the 80s. Otherwise, I'm for it.


HSchneider 5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

Thank you for commenting MobyWho. The best way to start lobbying for an idea such as this is writing our Representatives in Congress. Unfortunately this is a very bad time for this due to the huge budget deficit and the Republicans being in control in the House of Representatives. They were elected on Tea Party platforms of cutting government spending dramatically and none of them will see the efficacy of these programs. They have their ideology and discussing nuance will be useless with them. I believe continuing to write about it and discussing and proposing it with others might eventually get the ball rolling.


Sun-Girl profile image

Sun-Girl 5 years ago from Nigeria

Intelligent work.


HSchneider 5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

Thank you very much Sun-Girl.


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

'One can oppose a war and still support the troops. Troops follow orders as they should and lay their lives down for us." - I found this comment of yours interesting, Mr. HSchneider.

I fully agree with the first sentence but I question the second one. I am not sure if troops should always follow orders. The second invasion of Iraq was a crooked business, in my opinion. I respect those who died, got injured or simply put their lives at risk by going to fight but I have very little respect (if any at all) for those who gave them that mission.

Let's think of Syria now. President Bashar al-Assad is using the army to butcher his own people. At what point does the statement "I was just doing my job" become invalid? Do soldiers have no responsability for their actions if they are ordered to take part in massacres or wars which are plainly immoral? This is where my confusion exists.

Thank You for the conversation.

All the best!


HSchneider 4 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

I agree with you, Mr. Happy, that the Iraq War was a crooked affair. Cheney pushed to get whatever phony, non supported evidence to go to war from the CIA and the Pentagon. I also agree it is up to troops to decide that massacring innocent civilians is wrong and rebel. But the actuality of going to war is not their decision. I believe that most of them tried their best to avoid killing civilians even at risk to their own lives. The cowardly politicians who agreed to that phony war are the main culprits here. The bottom line is we need to get our troops out of these wars now and save lives and start spending on our hurting 99% at home. Thank you for reading my Hub and writing your wise comments.


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

I have two clips which You may find interesting Mr. HSchneider: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vplwUROCAFY&feature...

This second one is probably the more interesting one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTxU4Vj4NWg&feature...

All the best!


HSchneider 4 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

I agree with the arguments that many of our rights have been infringed upon but I am alarmed by the tone of both speakers. They both seem to be advocating for violence. I agree that we must fight peacefully for our rights but I do not believe we are anywhere near needing armed insurrection. There is way too much violence in the United States. I admire the Occupy movement for its principled stand against countless government and corporate infringements. I have also admired their peaceful stand against rough police crackdowns. The states rights arguments are poor ones because much of the legislation coming out of states is against the rights of many groups. I do agree with the argument that we are a republic and not strictly a democracy. Majorities have inflicted more damage without Bill of Rights checks than can be enumerated here. Change is need but not a call to arms. Thank you for your clips and the scintilating debate, Mr. Happy.


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

"I agree with the arguments that many of our rights have been infringed upon but I am alarmed by the tone of both speakers. They both seem to be advocating for violence." - Mr. HSchneider, I agree with your concern about violence. I do not promote violence but I am ready to defend myself and others if necessary (http://mrhappy.hubpages.com/hub/What-Che-Guevarra-... - that is what I have in common with the two men in those videos.

The call to arms is not really a call to pick-up your guns really, for now we just need to put pressure on politicians and to raise awareness on issues which concern us all. We can have "A Revolution of Resistence" (the title of yet another article of mine).

I certainly agree that there is "way too much violence", not only in the United States but world-wide. My only concern is that sometimes bullies only understand their own poison: violence. And sadly from my own personal experience, I have found-out that when one stands ready in front of a bully, the bully will run away with the tail between his/her legs. But one must stand straight and ready (like the men in these videos) otherwise, the bully will continue the trampling of the innocent.

It is a very fine line to walk between stopping a bully with their own methods and actually becoming a bully in the process. A very real concern.

I thank You very much for taking part in this conversation. I am of the opinion that we can get a lot more done by uniting and talking about these issues than going for our guns (I don't even own one lol). Hence, I am trying to keep the discussion going and to bring to light all of our concerns.

All the best!


MobyWho profile image

MobyWho 4 years ago from Burlington VT

I think I'll dig out all my Thoreau books and review civil disobedience...f''rinstance.


HSchneider 4 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

I appreciate our conversation also. It is always better for people to debate issues and learn from others. I agree we must strongly stand up to our government when their policies are detrimental to us as they are now. I only feel that the 2 speakers from the sites you gave me were too reliant violence and not enough for peaceful protests. Your Occupy movement is a prime example of people interconnecting and protesting to enact change. Taking up arms should only be a last ditch effort against dictatorship. Thank you for your comments and keep up the good Occupy fight.


HSchneider 4 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

Thoreau, Gandhi, and Dr. King had it right. Peaceful civil disobedience is always preferable to violence. The moral high ground is always more powerful and long lasting in creating change. You are wise to take out those good works such as Thoreau, MobyWho. The Occupy Movement is using these peaceful protests very well. They will have positive results if they stick to them and grow the movement.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working