In the first-ever study of its kind, a new report released today by the public policy research firm Civic Enterprises shows that the new generation of veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan are eager to serve their communities and offer their leadership to the home front.
However, according to the report, the nation’s returning veterans face a number of obstacles including a lack of information about how to connect to such service, and a majority says no local organization has reached out to them to seek their involvement upon their return. The report was underwritten by Target and by the Case Foundation.
“Our young troops and their families have done everything their country has asked of them,” writes Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen in a foreword to the report, which is the first representative survey of this generation of veterans. “Their lives have been changed forever by war, but their dreams haven’t changed at all. They want to raise their children, own a home, go to school, find work and even find new ways to contribute. Most of all, they want to be good citizens. They want to reconnect and renew their relationship to their local communities.”
In fact, according to the survey, almost 9 in 10 veterans said Americans could learn something from their example of service. And 92 percent of Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq) veterans say that serving their community is important to them. But just half considered themselves leaders in their communities as a result of their military service. And almost seven in ten say they have not been contacted by any community institution.