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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.