Baby Boomers … we’ve had our shot

Here’s a boomer opinion that we find it hard to argue with: some sort of national service program for our kids … or maybe more accurately for some of us, our grandkids. Communications specialist Larry Checco of Silver Spring, Maryland, is working on a solution. His rallying cry? America, we have a problem!

Boomers, for better or worse, we’ve had our shot. It’s time we ensure that our daughters, sons, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren have at least an equal opportunity to have theirs.

When six million jobs go begging in large part because our young people, in particular, do not have the skill sets to fill them … When so many of these same young people, from the ages of 18 to 26, feel disenfranchised from society, do not trust the government, and believe they are being left behind … When many are deeply depressed and turning to deadly drugs and crime as a way out, then we must face the fact that the United States is in the midst of a serious crisis.

In many instances we’ve done a far better job educating our kids to be good consumers than good citizens.

If we are to succeed as a nation in the long run, our young people need to be educated and experienced in what it means to be an American. They must be made to feel that they, like previous generations, have a stake in the long-term well-being of our nation. They need to know that their lives and work are meaningful, and that their futures are bright.

National Service might be a viable answer for achieving these ambitious goals.

National Service in the United States has a long tradition, extending to the founding of America. It takes on multiple forms, among them community, international, and military service.

What might a National Service program look like?

Well for one thing, it might include recruitment into the Corporation for National and Community Service organizations like AmeriCorps, Equal Justice Works, Teach for America, and Children’s Corps. Or service in the United States Armed Forces.


Or it could mean a stint in the Peace Corps. Or in a program that resembles the Civilian Conservation Corps of the Roosevelt era. Or serving in a variety of organizations that focus on healthcare, cyber security, cultural anthropology, languages, journalism, and more, places where they can learn the skills to thrive in this challenging 21st Century workforce.


In return for their service, participants would receive lodging, uniforms, healthcare, and good allowances, as well as stipends.

Upon completion of two years of service they would be entitled to numerous government incentives, including an education debt reduction or education allowance similar to the GI Bill, and other options to support the national service movement.

Larry Checco

The fact is, talent exists everywhere, from the poorest of inner-city neighborhoods to the most remote rural areas of America. What’s most often lacking, however, is opportunity.

A National Service program would serve as a catalyst for opportunities nationwide

In full disclosure, I am personally involved, along with many others, in trying to get a program such as this off the ground and into the halls of Congress, where we hope our representatives will act in a responsible bipartisan manner to legislate — and fund — such an ambitious effort.

It is a bold undertaking that will require bold commitments to achieve bold outcomes. However, nothing less than the future of our nation — and our kids’ and grandkids’ future — is at stake.

(c) Larry Checco 2017


  1. Being totally pro National Service, Larry, I couldn’t agree more. We owe it to our next gens to teach them the practical skills they need to negotiate their way through the decades ahead. We’ve over-indulged ourselves and them for way too long at the risk of their very future. I hope you get this off the ground in the States then Australia might adopt the idea too! God forbid, in our current political climate, our leaders should actually make a bi-partisan decision and do something as noteworthy and sensible as this on their own!

    1. Many thanks, Annabelle, for your thought-filled comments both here and on my FaceBook page. We’re hoping many others will weigh in on this important issue. Liberal (lower case “L”) democracies are in retreat around the globe in part due to complacent constituents–including many young people–who have come to take the privileges they enjoy for granted–i.e the right to vote, freedom of speech, the protection of personal property, the right to a fair trial, and more. Hopefully effective, well-thought out, well-funded national service programs can reverse that trend by giving them a stake in the communities and countries they serve. It’s up to we, the people, to make this happen!

      1. I applaud your insight and your well thought out argument for this (In my opinion) desperately needed service/program. I also sadly ask what more can I as a retired 33 year USAF member who gave his best in the defense of a country and a Government which I believed, had the best interest of the least of us at heart. I now sadly see the Republican Majority, and the current regime has deemed that we would be better served by an Oligarchy, rather than a representative democracy… I know that in my current physical condition I can no longer stand for any a mount of time, never mind March in any type of demonstration.. So I have done what I can do.. I write my representative, and my Senator, to emphatically tell them that I do not agree with their way of representing my views.. I then receive platitudes, of how they are doing a great job for the populace who elected them.. And when I pointedly disagree with their explanations, providing factual, and proven points against then, they remain silent, and or send me their next news letter… Or as the last correspondence I received from my Representative Tom Cole, R-OK Where after my questioning of his vote and the fact that My social security Payment is an Earned payment not merely and entitlement.. He then proceeds to explain to me That the original Social Security Act of 1935 Allows qualified individual(s)… To receive… and old Age Benefit… He then proceeds to enlighten me to the fact that “Benefit” does not mean “Government Handout” all of this while I formally refer to this individual as Mr. Cole he deems it his prerogative to Line through the Mr. Crespo salutation in his letter and write in my first name.
        My anger is not merely with these men but with the populace who keep them in office… I have also become involved with the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center along with the local Democratic party as it seems to be the only counter force available to me, to which I say Listen to those like me or my support will go else where.
        Thanks again for your insight, and I welcome you to the fight against the type of Government which as alien to most of us as that of the extraterrestrial race known as the Ferengi, who are stereotypically capitalist and motivated only by profit. From the TV Show Deep Space 9.. I shall post your article on my face book page…. Bouna Fortuna…!!!

        1. Thanks, Rick. Sounds like you’re doing a lot already. Keep writing and speaking out. This is our country; it’s not the country of tone-deaf politicians.

  2. In addition to the benefits you describe, national service may prove effective strategies combating opioids and drugs and jihadism. I am pleased to find you devoting your talents to this issue. What better platform from which to promote the benefits of liberal democracies.

    1. Thanks, Andy. We’ve got to do something, and if anybody has to do it, it needs to be we, the people. Nothing less than our fragile 242-year experiment in democracy is at stake.

  3. My father was in the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) in the 1930s and was very proud of his service.

    But if you / we are looking at a national service program to save our country, you’re / we’re too late.

    There is only one way to reverse the trends that are driving this country to ruin, and His name is Jesus. Not a political Jesus, not a social Jesus, but the Jesus, the Son of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

  4. Hey Larry: I don’t have my fingers on the data, but I believe the generations that bubbled up after the boomers, especially those born mid-1980s and after are more service-minded than our generation. There are more opportunities and more service requirements wrapped in with schooling than before. What we could use is more civics-oriented education and hands-on experiences. School systems have dropped these in favor of more time for testing and literacy and mathematics requirements–changes that trickled down from policy emphases and legislation.

    1. John, you are arguing our point. Many high school graduates are released into the world without a solid foundation, not only in academics, but also in citizenship or skills necessary to compete in the 21st century workforce. Teaching to the test just doesn’t cut it. What we are proposing through a national service program is to give 18 to 26 year olds–and others–the opportunity, not only to serve, but through service to achieve a better understanding of what it means to be a member of a democratic society, to make them understand the value of their service, the value they themselves inherently embody, as well as the value of others, all through hands-on experiences away from home and their normal comfort zones. In short, to make them better, more aware, more experienced citizens and, therefore, more educated and engaged voters.

  5. I am all for weaving a tapestry of opportunities and experiences for individuals to develop personal capacity while engaged in activities that serve and do “good”. The possibilities are endless and the need vast. It would be wonderful to coalesce the many efforts of groups focusing on youth development and building assets in young adults. The act of giving and receiving is often misunderstood in the US. The practice of giving and generosity is the most basic way to experience freedom and an openness of heart. An acknowledgment of our interdependence and an awareness of our dependence on a myriad of things. Receiving is a place of openness and courage and as much a gift as giving. To give and receive with good and meaningful intentions reinforces communicating and connecting with purpose.

    1. Many thanks for your sage insights, Beth. Also, thanks for your leadership on the IMPACT review. Couldn’t have done it without you.

  6. Great idea, Larry. See #5 in a set of 8 initiatives that the new Administration could take toward a more inclusive society and economy on the Center on Capital & Social Equity web site:

    Inclusive Economic Policies for Consideration by the New President and Congress (December 2016):

    1) Improve Social Security benefits for the lowest earners. Part of this could be financed by removing the current income cap on Social Security taxes. Raise Social Security and SSI benefits for the very old and for nursing-eligible elderly who have been receiving long term care for many years.
    2) Create a universal retirement savings system for all workers including specified minimum contributions from the government, employers, and employees.
    3) Raise the minimum wage to a “living wage level” based on cost of living in a state or region. The minimum wage could be raised to $12 an hour with states given the authority to adjust minimum wages (10%?) lower to account for geographic variation. States of course can always set the minimum wage higher. Most important: no matter where minimum wage levels are set, in the future they need to be adjusted to reflect changes in the cost of living. Alternative approaches include broadening the reach of the earned income tax credit and improving its take-up rate.
    4) Initiate a major national commitment to expand job opportunity and job training:

    – Increase financial aid for low- and moderate-income people for college education and technical training. Interest rates for college and technical training loans should not exceed the overnight borrowing rate charged by the Fed by more than a reasonable amount (2 percentage points?).

    – Work with universities and colleges to improve training programs for an economy that will see increasing automation and use of computer technology.

    5) As part of the effort above, provide citizens with an opportunity to have at least one year of paid service in federal employment in the armed services or in federally sponsored projects improving national infrastructure — or one year of training toward a career. Citizens can take this option at any point in their working lives, but must meet performance standards to receive compensation or benefits. Tasks could include fixing roads, picking up trash, improving water systems, development of renewal energy infrastructure, and mitigating damage to coastline cities from rising sea levels, should this occur.

    6) Provide business incentives to keep technology development and manufacturing jobs in the U.S.
    7) Agree to sign the Trans-Pacific trade deal and continue support of expansive international trade only if a substantial commitment is made toward retraining displaced workers.
    8) Control illegal immigration, not through building physical walls, but by fining and publicizing employers who repeatedly hire illegals.

    Center on Capital & Social Equity —

  7. Karl, it looks like you’ve done quite a lot of thinking about this already. All six of your points are worthy of consideration by the powers that be. Equity and opportunity are currently in short supply. We need to change that by getting our messages out there.

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