Community Group Salutes High School Seniors
Volunteering For Military Service
(January 19, 2011)
|GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (MCN - 1/17/2011) — Every year across the
nation, high school seniors attend awards and graduation
ceremonies. Valedictorians and scholarship awardees are
recognized and honored by their communities and fellow
But in these ceremonies the thousands of young
men and women who choose to enlist in the armed
forces are largely ignored.
Hartman, academic director of Drexel University
Online and a United States Army veteran, wants
that to change.
“What about kids who
serve their country?” Hartman, a former member
of the Cherry Hill, N.J., school board, said.
“Nobody has done anything and that has to stop.”
Together with community members, guidance
counselors and veterans, Hartman founded Our
Community Salutes. The organization held its
first recognition ceremony in 2009 in Cherry
“We have to be the first to
say ‘thank you' before it's too late,” said
Students from Camden County, N.J., who volunteered for military service, pose for a group photograph with Lt. Gen. Willie J. Williams, director, Marine Corps Staff, and Kenneth Hartman, president and director of Our Community Salutes, at a ceremony June 2, 2010. Our Community Salutes is an organization that recognizes and honors high school seniors who enlist in the military.,
Photo courtesy of Kenneth Hartman
More than 200 people attended the ceremony honoring 54
graduates. A second ceremony was held in Pittsburgh, which
honored more than 150 students.|
Hartman said these
enlistees need to know their community supports them before
they begin basic training.
In addition to supporting
the future service members, the ceremonies also recognize
their parents. Hartman says many parents have some
uncertainty about their son or daughter's career choice, but
witness first-hand the large group of people who care about
and support their student.
“It is critical (for the
students and their families) to see they are joining an even
larger family,” Hartman said.
Our Community Salutes'
support of enlistees' parents goes a step further. The
organization's website provides “A Parent's Guide to
Education in the U.S. Armed Services.” The brochure
encourages parents to assist their son or daughter in
pursuing an education while on active duty.
said the brochure has had over 10,000 downloads from Our
The program has expanded, with new
chapters of Our Community Salutes in Brooklyn, N.Y.,
Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh.
It has also
seen far-reaching effects. According to Hartman, some
military recruiters have seen a significant decrease in the
attrition of new enlistees who attend the ceremony prior to
attending recruit training.
Hartman also told the
story of how a student who attended the ceremony found it
gave him motivation while facing the rigors of Marine Corps
Having heard of Our Community
Salutes, in June 1, 2010, U.S. Rep. Robert E. Andrews was
motivated to speak in the House of Representatives to honor
47 high school seniors from Camden County, N.J.
time when many of their peers are looking forward to
pursuing vocational training or college degrees, they
instead have chosen to dedicate themselves to military
service in defense of our country,” Andrews said. “We owe
them, along with all those who serve our country, a deep
debt of gratitude.”
Article and photo by USMC Sgt. W. J. Ferris|
1st Marine Corps District
Marine Corps News
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