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Military Service

Clinton Romesha awarded Congressional Medal of Honor

Yesterday, President Barack Obama awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor to Clinton Romesha, a 31-year-old retired staff sergeant in the US Army. In October 2009, Romesha helped to defend Combat Outpost Keating in northeast Afghanistan against an attack by more than 300 Taliban fighters. Before the somber ceremony began in the East Room of the White House, Romesha’s young son, Colin, provided pre-program entertainment for those in attendance.

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Helping veterans graduate

We’ve noted before the paucity of data available tracking how veterans perform once they enter college. Now, at the New York Times, James Dao writes about why that data is important in helping veterans face their unique challenges as students of higher education.

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Bridging the Gap

A new film about America’s civil-military divide is in the final stages of production, and it’s worth checking out. “Bridging the Gap” explores the disconnect that members of the public and members of the military feel with each other. As the film makers note, “It’s not that Americans don’t like the military – they love it! They just don’t have a clue who’s in it, what one does, what it costs them, or costs those that joint it. Military service has become something other people do.”

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Wal-Mart’s plan to hire veterans

The New York Times reports this morning that Wal-Mart will announce a plan later today that will provide a job for nearly every veteran who wants one. The program, which will focus on veterans that have left the military in the previous year and did not receive a dishonorable discharge, will last for five years and will, according to the company, lead to the hiring of more than 100,000 veterans.

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Do veterans graduate?

We reported in December that, even though veterans are now enrolling in colleges and other higher education programs at rates last seen right after World War II, there exists very little information on how veterans are doing once they matriculate. Roughly 70 percent of higher education institutions do not collect retention and graduation rates for undergraduate veterans. Writing earlier this week in Inside Higher Ed, Paul Fain provides an update, noting that a new agreement between the US Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Student Clearinghouse will help provide better data on how veterans perform in college.

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Single Stop for Veterans

Writing for the New York Times “At War” blog, James Dao takes a look at a new program in New York City that helps veterans and their families navigate the complex web of federal assistance programs. The Single Stop Veterans Initiative is an off-shoot of Single Stop USA, which has provided counseling to the city’s poor for more than a decade.

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The Warrior’s Heart

At the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) website, Alice Murphy interviews Eric Greitens, author of the recently-released book The Warrior’s Heart: Becoming a Man of Compassion and Courage. The book is an adaptation of Greiten’s previous book, The Heart and the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL, but is aimed specifically at younger readers in an attempt to equip them with the drive and resources to begin a life of volunteering and civic engagement even now as teens and young adults.

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CUNY’s ROTC reveille

The New York Post reports that the City University of New York (CUNY) is beginning to allow ROTC programs back on its campuses. York College in Queens, part of the CUNY system, offered a first-year military science course this fall, which 18 students enrolled in.

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Remembering a day of infamy

At 7:55 am on December 7, 1941, the Japanese began their attack on Pearl Harbor, killing 2,390 Americans over the course of the two-hour attack. The next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, declaring December 7 a “date which will live in infamy,” asked Congress to declare war on Japan. World War II had officially begun for the United States.

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Understanding student veterans

With soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to a down economy, many veterans are choosing to enroll in colleges and other higher education programs. Indeed, the recent increase of student veterans in higher education has been the fastest since the GIs of World War II flooded college campuses in the late ’40s and early ’50s. Now, as they did then, colleges are scrambling to understand student veterans and help them succeed.

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Education center at Vietnam Wall to honor recent veterans

Writing for the Courier-Journal, Staff Sgt. Salvatore Guinta, the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War, worries that even with the public outpouring of support for service members, the care packages sent, and the warm homecomings offered, “today’s military members serve a nation more disconnected from its armed forces that at any time in our country’s history.”

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Number of veterans in Congress continues to decline

Last week, Susan Davis at USA Today reported on the decreasing number of military veterans serving in the Congress, noting that “when the next session convenes in January, the two chambers will have the fewest number of veterans serving since World War II.”

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Citizenship roundup

Here’s an end-of-the-week news roundup for things happening in the citizenship world you may have missed:

Defending ROTC at Columbia

As the Washington Post reported this week, the number of college students across the country participating in the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps has increased by 50 percent since the 2005–06 school year, with 36,474 students enrolled in the program this past school year. Indeed, during the 2011–12 school year, “the Army commissioned 5,880 officers and reservists, surpassing its goal of 5,350. That number is expected to increase in coming years as large incoming classes mature.”

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Learning in Mr. Clark’s class


Every year, students in Tom Clarke’s high school history class at Lake Central High School in St. John, Indiana, embark upon a research project to track down the families of the state’s battle casualties and learn more about those who died in service to their country. And for each of the 27 years that the project has been assigned, both students and the families they interact with come away moved by the experience.

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Keep staring…

We have been keeping tabs on the return of ROTC to many Ivy League campuses this fall. Today, we bring you a recent column in the Yale Daily News written by Sam Cohen, a sophomore participating in the Navy ROTC program at the university, in which he reminds us of the benefits of having ROTC on campus, even for those who don’t directly participate in the program.

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What the troops leave unsaid: a growing civil-military divide

Over at the “At War” blog of The New York Times, Jonathan Raab, a sergeant in the New York National Guard currently serving in Kuwait, reminds us of the hardships many veterans face when they return home from war–and the responsibility we have to engage them in thoughtful conversation about their concerns.

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The few, the proud, the infantilized

Writing at The Chronicle of Higher Education, Bruce Fleming, a professor of English at the U.S. Naval Academy and the author of Bridging the Military-Civilian Divide, argues that the American service academies are in desperate need of reform–and that they could take some cues from the ROTC programs on other college campuses.

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Where’s ROTC at Columbia?

Last year, when elite universities began announcing their intentions to bring back ROTC, Jonathan E. Hillman and I cautioned that if Ivy League ROTC was to succeed, it would require a real commitment from both the schools and the military.

Some progress has been made. Yale has welcomed Air Force and Navy units back to campus while Harvard is hosting its first military-science class since the Vietnam era. Even Brown University, the lone holdout, isbeginning to thaw. But at Columbia University, where the new Naval ROTC unit is located an hour away from campus, the program is suffering from “half-hearted implementation,” according to Columbia ROTC cadet, Ryan Cho.

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Brown University students call for ROTC

As we noted last week, Brown University, which is currently the only Ivy League institution that has yet to allow ROTC to return to its campus, is attempting to provide support to students who have served or are interested in serving in the military–without actually welcoming the return of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program to campus. Writing in response to the campus administration’s position, the editorial board at The Brown Daily Herald has called for a reinstatement of the ROTC program on campus.

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