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Military Service

Reconsidering Women, the Draft, and the Duties of Citizenship Series

In principle, we aren’t merely flattering contemporary prejudices when we invoke the long history of republican women, from Lucrecia to Portia to modern Americans, to show that civic-minded, patriotic women strengthen self-governing nations. As long as our armed forces have existed, women have taken it upon themselves to serve honorably in or alongside of them, hiding their gender, seeing combat “unofficially,” or serving in support roles that have often involved bullets and capture by the enemy.

It’s heartening to think of women’s demonstrated potential both in their willingness to serve their country and their ability to do so. Should the occasion arise in future, we should hope for and celebrate women and men rising to the challenge. But neither the presidential candidates nor the nation is truly debating whether women can be called upon to serve their country. We are also not, actually, debating “The Draft”— military conscription.

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On Memorial Day

How do we honor those men and women who have given the “last, full measure of devotion”? “You must begin by wanting to,” is Justice Holmes’ conclusion. It is not by recoiling in pity and fear at the existence of war, pain, and suffering, or at nations willing and able to engage in war when necessary, that we best recall the memory and sacrifices of the military dead. Rather, it is by engaging thoughtfully in our national life that we honor their memory.

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ICYMI: Transforming Army ROTC with Gen. Jack Keane and Maj. Gen. Jefforey Smith

Today, the US Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) has more than 30,000 cadets enrolled nationwide and some 275 universities hosting full ROTC programs. And with the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, ROTC has been welcomed back on campuses where it once had vibrant programs.

However, as Major General Jefforey A. Smith noted upon taking up his command, the ROTC “program that we have in place today is exactly the same program that I went through between 1980 and 1983 at Ohio State University.” And changing demographics will require the Army to better maximize its limited resources to effectively train cadets and to produce an officer corps that reflects America’s geographic and social diversity.

To discuss how best to move Army ROTC into the future, Major General Smith sat down for a conversation with General Jack Keane, an ROTC graduate and former Army vice chief of staff.

Watch the full video after the jump:

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The return of ROTC to New York City

This fall, Army ROTC officially began classes at the City College of New York, ending a 41-year absence. The program will serve as headquarters for a new partnership between the Army and the City University of New York, intended to make ROTC more accessible to New York City students. It also marks a broader move by the military to reengage with areas currently underserved by recruiting policy and to realign the ROTC footprint so that it produces an officer corps more representative of American society.

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Awarding the Medal of Honor to Iraq War Servicemembers

The President of the United States has awarded 3,471 Medals of Honor since the award’s inception in 1861, recognizing soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines for risking their life above the call of duty. James Roberts, writing in the Wall Street Journal, laments the fact that not a single living service member has received the Medal of Honor from service in the Iraq War, and provides a remarkable example of valor deserving of recognition.

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Allen Guelzo on Gettysburg

Historian Allen Guelzo has a powerful essay on the meaning of Gettysburg in the Wall Street Journal today.

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The Legacy of Gettysburg

On Wednesday, in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg, Allen Guelzo delivered a keynote speech at AEI about the three-day battle’s importance in American history.

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Solving the Veterans Disability Backlog

There are more than 850,000 veterans waiting for the Department of Veterans Affairs to process their disability claims. With the average wait time at 330 days, and some veterans waiting well over a year for service according to USA Today, Senators Dean Heller (R-NV) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) have introduced legislation to reduce the backlog.

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US Military Still Most Respected Institution

Despite years of contentious engagements abroad, the US military is far and away the most trusted US institution, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. Sitting among a list of ten US institutions, including the federal government, large corporations, and the IRS, 67% of those polled answered that they had “a great deal” or “quite a bit” of confidence in the military.

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Improving Veterans’ Mental Health Services

In response to grave concerns over veterans’ access to adequate mental health services, the Veterans Affairs Department announced that they will expand their mental health services, starting immediately. This announcement comes after President Obama’s remarks at the National Conference on Mental Health on Monday. “Today, we lose 22 veterans a day to suicide — 22. We’ve got to do a better job … of preventing these all-too-often silent tragedies.”

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Gettysburg at 150

In time for the upcoming 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg, our AEI colleague Tom Donnelly reviews historian Allan Guelzo’s new book, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion.

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The Real Gap in Civil-Military Relations

Our AEI colleague Tom Donnelly has a terrific post at the Weekly Standard about the civil-military gap. Reacting to a recent quote from Tom Brokaw which laments the gap and casts Iraq and Afghanistan veterans as “victims,” Donnelly notes that “if there is a ‘gap’ in American civil-military relations, it is not because so few serve, it is because so few care to understand our military on its own terms.”

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Harvard’s ROTC Commissions New Ivy League Officers

In a jam-packed auditorium featuring generals and proud alumni, Harvard College hosted its third ROTC commissioning ceremony following recognition of the program in March 2011. Harvard University President Drew Faust, herself a veteran’s daughter, described Harvard’s ROTC program as a step toward bridging the civilian-military divide.

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Remembering Memorial Day

Our friends at What So Proudly We Hail are remembering Memorial Day with a new ebook of stories, speeches, and songs—featuring classic American writers and great American statesmen.

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ROTC to Return to City College of New York

After a four decade hiatus, City College of New York is set to reopen its doors to Army ROTC this week. While City College once had a thriving ROTC program, during the Vietnam War anti-military sentiment reached a fever pitch on campus.

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ROTC’s First Year at Columbia

It’s been a year since Columbia University re-established an on-campus Naval ROTC program. In the latest edition of Columbia’s The Blue and White, student Naomi Sharp gives a progress report. Thus far, she notes, the program has flown under the radar, attracting little attention, positive or negative, but “a quiet beginning to the program has its benefits.”

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Can ROTC Solve Its Minority Problem?

In the Atlantic, Colin Daileda writes about the challenges the military faces in accessing minority officers—and how the return of big city ROTC can help. Daileda follows the progress of new ROTC units at schools affiliated with the City University of New York (CUNY) and notes how their success could lead to a more diverse officer corps.

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Running a mile in their shoes

In an effort to better understand the skills that student-veterans bring with them to college, a group of New Jersey educators attended a week-long Marine Corps Educators Boot Camp at Paris Island, South Carolina. Many of the participants of the program were high school guidance counselors, principals, and history teachers who took part in order to learn more about what some of their students may be doing following graduation; other participants were administrators at community colleges who wanted to find out more about education in the military and how the skills that veterans have learned there can translate into college credit and help them find work in the civilian workforce.

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Helping homeless veterans

“You know the expression ‘never leave the fallen behind’? Homelessness is the equivalent of leaving a buddy on the battlefield. They’re heroes in the shadows.” So says Joe Leal, founder of the Vet Hunters Project, a group whose mission is to track down and help homeless comrades. Leal is an Iraq-war veteran and a reservist  with the 115th Combat Service Support Battalion in South El Monte, a city outside Los Angeles, California.

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How to help veterans succeed in college

As we’ve noted before, more universities and colleges are working to help military veterans adjust to college life. Even so, there is a long way to go, as Ryan Gallucci recently reminded readers of the New York Times’ “At War” blog. Gallucci, who is the deputy legislative director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, provides a good overview of services currently available to student veterans and suggests some ideas for improvements.

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