President Bush Urges Americans to Serve Their Communities
GOP Weekly Magazine
January 28 - February 1, 2002
President Bush Urges Americans to Serve Their Communities
In the last four months, Americans have stood united, opening their hearts and giving of their time to help those in need. In his State of the Union Address on Tuesday night, President George W. Bush called on all Americans to continue that compassion through service to their nation. The President has asked citizens to give the equivalent of two years over their lifetime, or 4,000 hours, to volunteer projects.
To help Americans achieve this goal, President Bush has created the USA Freedom Corp, which will mobilize volunteers around three areas of need: responding in case of crisis at home, rebuilding our communities and extending American compassion throughout the world.
USA FREEDOM CORPS
The USA Freedom Corps is a comprehensive, integrated citizen service initiative, which includes three major programs:
A new Citizen Corps to engage citizens directly in improving homeland security: The Citizen Corps will implement of range of new initiatives to engage ordinary Americans in specific homeland security efforts in their own communities. Citizen Corps initiatives include the creation of a Medical Reserve Corps, the Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) program and the Terrorist Information and Prevention System (TIPS). It will also double the Neighborhood Watch program and a triple the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program.
An improved and enhanced AmeriCorps and Senior Corps: The Administration will reform and expand the AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs to engage thousands of new volunteers in effective, community-based service opportunities. President Bush’s plan will add more than 200,000 participants in community service (25,000 new AmeriCorps participants who will generate an additional 75,000 local volunteers and 100,000 new Senior Corps participants).
A strengthened Peace Corps: Enrollment in the Peace Corps today is less than half the historic high level of 15,000 volunteers in 1966. To allow more Americans to demonstrate the true values of our nation to those in the developing world, the President will propose a doubling of the Peace Corps program over the next 5 years. The expanded Peace Corps program will include specific efforts targeted at rebuilding Afghanistan.
President Bush will request more than $560 million in new funding for the USA Freedom Corps in his FY 2003 budget. He will also ensure a high-level Administration focus on this initiative by creating the USA Freedom Corps Council, comprised of the relevant agency heads. A new USA Freedom Corps Office inside the Executive Office of the President and led by an Assistant to the President will be created as well. The Council and the Office will make further recommendations to the President on ways to enhance service and improve civic progress.
For more information on the USA Freedom Corps, Americans can visit www.usafreedomcorps.gov or call 1-877-USA-CORPS.
THE CITIZEN CORPS
The newly created Citizen Corps, part of the USA Freedom Corps, will give Americans the opportunity to be involved directly in homeland security efforts in their own communities. Citizen Corps will be coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Community-based Citizen Corps Councils will help drive local involvement in Citizen Corps, including developing community action plans, assessing possible threats, identifying local resources and coordinating other Citizen Corps programs.
These Councils will be broad-based - made up of leaders from law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services, businesses, community-based institutions, schools, places of worship, health care facilities, public works and other key community sectors.
The President’s budget for FY 03 will request $144 million in matching funds to support the formation and training of local Citizen Corps Councils.
Citizen Corps volunteers will be able to participate in a variety of programs that match their skills and abilities. President Bush’s FY 03 budget provides more than $230 million for these efforts, including:
Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) Program: Builds on successful local programs in which civilian volunteers help local police departments to perform non-sworn functions, freeing up police officers to perform vital front-line duties in times of emergency.
Medical Reserve Corps: Enables retired healthcare professionals to effectively augment local health officials’ capacity to respond to an emergency.
Operation TIPS (Terrorist Information and Prevention System): Operation TIPS will enable millions of America transportation workers, postal workers, and public utility employees to identify and report suspicious activities linked to terrorism and crime.
Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT): The President has proposed tripling over the next two years the number of Americans enrolled in CERT - a training program that enables individual Americans to participate in emergency management planning in their communities and prepare to respond to disasters and other emergencies.
Neighborhood Watch Programs: The President’s plan will double the number of Neighborhood Watch Programs in the next two years, and enhance the program by incorporating terrorism prevention into its mission.
Citizens’ Preparedness Guidebook: The Citizens' Preparedness Guidebook provides current crime and disaster preparedness techniques as well as the latest information on terrorism, to give Americans guidance on how to prepare in their homes, neighborhoods, workplaces and public spaces.
For more information on Citizen Corps initiatives or to become a volunteer, visit www.citizencorps.gov or call 1-877-USA-CORPS.