A majority of adults (55%) support increasing the federal budget to allow everyone who is qualified and wants to serve in full-time service programs such as the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps to do so
In a recent Harris Poll, nearly three in four (73%) U.S. adults agree that it is important for young people to serve their country, but that this service should be voluntary. When given an array of non-military civilian service opportunities, like tutoring and mentoring disadvantaged youth, improving health services, building affordable housing, cleaning parks and streams and helping communities respond to disasters or a military option, almost two-thirds of adults (63%) agree that there should be another option in which young people can serve their country.
These are some of the results of a Harris Poll of 2,337 U.S. adults conducted online between January 11 and 18, 2007 by Harris Interactive(R). This survey was conceived and developed by Harris Interactive and was not commissioned by any organization. However, valuable input was sought and received from the National Youth Leadership Council.
Adults are not ready to reinstitute drafting young adults into service -- military or civilian. Slightly more than four in 10 adults (43%) support a draft of young adults where they could choose to serve in the military or in non-military civilian service. Only one in four (24%) support a draft for military service and far fewer adults support a draft of young adults only for non-military civilian service (14%). However, over three-quarters (77%) disagree with the concept that it is not important for young people to serve their country.
A majority of adults (55%) support increasing the federal budget to allow everyone who is qualified and wants to serve in full-time service programs such as the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps to do so. Just under one-third (30%) oppose this idea. Support for increasing the federal budget for these programs is consistent across the generations as well as between the genders. There is also strong support for this idea amongst those who have earned post graduate degrees (64%).
Looking across party lines, somewhat stronger support for increasing the federal budget comes from Democrats (61%) and Independents (59%), than from Republicans (52%). Nevertheless, it appears to have bipartisan support. When we look at political ideology, it is a little different. While two-thirds of Liberals (66%) support an increase in the federal budget, only 44 percent of Conservatives feel the same way.
"What is significant about these results is the agreement across demographic groups and ideological lines. Republicans, Democrats and Independents all support higher funding for non-military civilian service opportunities," said Chris Moessner, Research Director in the Youth and Education Research Practice at Harris Interactive.
Jim Kielsmeier, President and CEO of National Youth Leadership Council offered these comments, "When the need is clear, America's youth respond. Military enlistments went way up after 9/11. Likewise, the volunteer response by AmeriCorps members and college and high school students to Hurricane Katrina was dramatic. Hundreds of thousands of young people headed to the Gulf Coast to help out -- often filling in for deployed National Guard troop. The current generation of draft-eligible youth and their younger counterparts are volunteering at record rates according to the Corporation for National and Community Service, the government's primary volunteer service agency and AmeriCorps manager. An estimated 55 percent of youth ages 12 to 18, about 15.5 million, volunteer." Read more.
Senator Chris Dodd says he would like to expand the Peace Corps to 100,000 from the 7,000 currently serving
A former Peace Corps volunteer, Dodd said he would like to expand the corps to 100,000 from the 7,000 currently serving. There are only two Arab-speaking countries — Jordan and Morocco — with Peace Corps volunteer programs. "We haven't been asked to be something larger than ourselves for a long time," he said. Read more.
"John Kennedy, when he sent off the first Peace Corps volunteers...said you know it’s going to be a great thing in 40 or 50 years from now there will have been a million young people in this country that will have served their nation in a foreign nation..That’s going to help us in the conduct of foreign policy with a better understanding of what’s going on."
"Well, there have only been 170,000 of us that have come back as Peace Corps volunteers, but that experience was life altering and changing. You respected other people, you listened to them. It gives you a better perspective on your own country. I came back with a deeper appreciation of what the United States was and what it could do as a result of that experience." Read more.