Our nation’s young people face several challenges: the high cost of college and the burden of student loans, concerns about how to develop the skills and experience to launch a successful career, and our country’s bitter partisan divisions that make many question our future. 

I have long been confident that the answers to these and a number of other problems may lie in something that helped previous generations of Americans come together, make a difference and afford a higher education: national service. 

For decades, military service, now in combination with the GI Bill, has connected veterans to skills, a better understanding of their fellow citizens, and access to higher education. 

My dad once told me that he didn’t fully understand what it meant to be an American until he was serving in the Army, responsible for a squad of men who were black and white, Northern, Southern, Western, Catholic, and Protestant. “We had to live together, work together, and serve together,” he said, explaining how military service shaped his life and deepened his commitment to our country and its citizens.

You can read the full column here.