Accompanying the question of National Service many ideas are being considered for new programs and roles through which Serving Citizens could fulfill their National Service Obligation.  Some of these ideas stray from the more conventionally recognized forms of service such as participating in the military, law enforcement and crisis response, and education.  Additional programs may include more formal roles in conservation, nation building, disaster relief, and medical services performed liberalitas(in the spirit of generosity).  For the sake of simplifying the discussion, all of these ideas belong to one of the 5 functions of National Service.  These 5 categories help us conceptualize National Service, give focus to our organization, and will assist future Americans in classifying themselves as either military, civil service, or social service veterans.  Certainly, these are superficial categories and some National Service jobs will involve responsibilities that bleed between the 5 groups.

The 5 Functions of National Service:

1. National Security

This category includes the military, the national intelligence community, border & customs security and other homeland security functions, and other professional and physical security roles that contribute to protecting the United States and its laws from external threats.

2. Nation Building & Disaster Recovery

These are roles that help create or recreate the legal and physical systems that comprise a modern country’s infrastructure and living space.  These jobs may be performed both inside and outside the United States.  We’re talking about things such as providing food and shelter or restoring water and electrical services to a geographical area after a natural or man-made disaster.  Mentoring Iraqis and Afghanis to create functional banks and courts would also fall under this category.  Peace Corps volunteers are another prominent example.

3. Conservation

This category involves any public service that provides innovation or labor toward preserving the environment and its resources, and reducing the negative impact of human activity.  This may involve public works projects that build the Country’s alternative energy capacity or environmental reclamation aimed at protecting a natural waterway or a geographical area’s biota (flora and fauna).  The Great Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) would be one example of this type of National Service.

4. Education

Any person who performs K-12 logistics, administration, or teaching, either professionally or as a volunteer, inside or outside the United States, is a social service veteran of this type.  A person who provides counseling, teaches life skills, or educates outside the schoolhouse is also involved in this form of National Service.  City Year and AmeriCorps do a lot of this species of work. 

5. Public HATS (Health, Administration, Transportation & Safety)

The category includes security and regulatory functions that protect against threats of origin internal to the US.  Police men and women, firemen, and first responders are the first examples that come to mind.  This group also includes other medical services (education and treatment) provided liberalitas. Examples include free clinics, free mental health counseling and assistance, and disease prevention and control.  Assurance of consumer goods and services may also be involved in this, along with various civil servants in municipal and local government.