Nearly two decades of entrenchments in the Middle East have conditioned Americans to think of matters of national security in terms of color-coded terrorism threat advisory scales, missiles, and bio-chemicals, but Home Base’s Executive Director, retired Brigadier General Jack Hammond, sees things differently, citing “obesity and poor education” as two major threats to the United States’ national security.
He has a point.
Today, 71% of young people between the ages of 17 and 24 cannot qualify for military service, largely due to poor education, obesity, or a record of crime or drug abuses.
“Considering that only 1% of Americans serve in the Armed Forces, it is not difficult to understand why it is so critical to ensure that more young people are eligible to serve,” said Hammond.
While there is no “silver bullet” that could reverse these national trends overnight, research shows that high-quality early childhood education can help children stay in school, in shape, and out of trouble.
Since 2016, Hammond has proudly aligned himself with Mission: Readiness, a nonpartisan, nonprofit national security organization of over 700 retired generals and admirals concerned that most young Americans are unable to serve in uniform. The organization supports policy solutions–like early childhood education–that prepare young people to succeed at whatever they choose, including military service.
“With three decades of experience leading American service members at home and abroad, nobody knows more about the importance of quality personnel than General Jack Hammond,” said Ben Goodman, Associate Director of Mission: Readiness. “Our organization and all Americans are lucky to have General Hammond helping to advance solutions that prepare young people for productive citizenship.”
On May 16, Hammond joined retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Gary Pappas at the Massachusetts State House to urge lawmakers to support efforts to retain and attract high-quality early educators in the Commonwealth.
“In order to replicate the positive outcomes of other successful early care and education programs, early care must be of high-quality,” Hammond explained. “Teachers are a critical part of the equation.”
Generals Hammond and Pappas participated in five meetings with key legislators including House Speaker Robert DeLeo to detail how high-quality early education can help to reduce barriers to enlistment. The generals expressed support for a proposal to increase the state’s rate reserve for early educators – the best legislative mechanism to provide a salary increase for these professionals.
More than one-third of early educators in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts rely on some form of public assistance. Stabilizing the workforce is a critical step to ensure that Bay State children have access to the high-quality programs they need to succeed.
“It is critical that lawmakers provide immediate stability to the early education workforce–but we need a permanent solution to help attract and retain early educators in the Commonwealth,” said Hammond. I look forward to working with lawmakers and retired military leaders in the years ahead to help build momentum for a comprehensive solution that will best prepare our children for success,” says Hammond.
Though Home Base is dedicated to healing the invisible wounds for Veterans, Service Members and their Families, Hammond understands the long-term impact programs like Mission: Readiness can have on children who may one day serve in the United States Armed Forces.
“If we can better prepare our children to serve – in any capacity – perhaps we can better prepare them to come home,” said Hammond.
To read more about the important work Hammond is doing with Mission: Readiness, please visit https://www.strongnation.org/missionreadiness.