June 23, 2023

Young, Reed Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill to Boost Civic Engagement and Promote Service

WASHINGTON – In an effort to bring Americans together through service to the nation and their fellow citizens, U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) reintroduced legislation that would create a more coordinated approach to addressing military, national and public service needs.

This legislation is based on the recommendations of the bipartisan National Commission on Military, National and Public Service to review the military selective service process and consider methods to increase participation in military, national, and other public service to address the needs of the nation.  The Commission published its final report and recommendations just as the pandemic hit American soil, setting off a decline in the rates of volunteerism from 30 percent to 23.2 percent according to data from AmeriCorps.  The Commission called for a ten-year goal for five million Americans to begin participating in military, national, or public service each year.

Additionally, the Commission set targets for ensuring there are more than enough qualified individuals seeking to serve in the Armed Forces and for modernizing government personnel systems to attract and enable Americans with critical skills to enter public service. The Unity through Service Act (S. 2150) would provide the architecture and focus to mobilize a whole of government approach to achieving these goals.

“Civic engagement and giving back to one’s community are woven into the fabric of the American spirit. Service brings forth positive change and promotes unity across the nation. This bipartisan bill will modernize our current federal programs to better match Americans with service opportunities that target community-specific needs, while also appropriately stewarding taxpayer dollars,” said Senator Young.

“I believe that Americans are ready and willing to answer the call to serve, to come together and meet the challenges we are facing. We just need to create the conditions to mobilize them,” said Senator Reed. “That is why I am proud to join Senator Young in introducing the Unity through Service Act, reaffirming our national culture of service and elevating all forms of service by leveraging the strengths of our existing programs.” 

The Unity through Service Act would elevate all forms of service, making it easier for Americans to identify service opportunities that align with their skills and goals. 

This bill would establish an Interagency Council on Service to coordinate and lead initiatives that extend across military, national, and public service. The Council will be tasked with preparing and submitting to the President a national strategy on service, including a review of current programs, initiatives and online content.

Furthermore, the Unity through Service Act would authorize a joint advertising, market research, and recruiting program with the Department of Defense (DOD), the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), and the Peace Corps to identify successful strategies and efficiently share this information across agencies. The bill would require a quadrennial report to Congress on initiatives to integrate military, national, and public service programs. 

This legislation is endorsed by the Service Year Alliance and America’s Service Commissions.

“Strengthening connections between military, national, and public service through the creation of an Interagency Council on Service would promote interagency coordination to expand national service, improve recruitment across all streams of service, and better support those who serve in their transition after service,” said Kristen Bennett, Chief Executive Officer of Service Year Alliance. “We applaud Sen. Reed and Sen. Young for harnessing the recommendations from the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service in their reintroduction of the bipartisan Unity through Service Act. This innovative legislation will fortify national service for years to come and provide the governing infrastructure for creative interagency collaboration and joint recruiting partnerships to advance service in America.”

“On behalf of our nation’s State and Territorial Service Commissions, we thank Sen. Reed and Sen. Young for their work on the bipartisan Unity Through National Service Act. National service enables Americans to address critical issues in our communities and instills a service ethos in those that serve. We look forward to engaging with the new Interagency Council on Service to advise the President on ways that national, military, and public service partners can work together to promote and expand opportunities to serve our country and improve on the service experience,” said Kaira Esgate, CEO of America’s Service Commissions. “Importantly, the Council would also manage and develop new interagency partnerships to address national challenges and help support the transition between branches of service and into careers. We urge Congress to advance this bipartisan legislation as soon as possible.”