West Point Graduate calls rewarding national service with college “a win/win for our economy and our security.”

Fairfield, CA: In a blog and web video released earlier today, CA 10 Democratic Candidate Anthony Woods launched an online petition drive to support a National Service to College program, which would provide one year of tuition for each year of national service in the military, AmeriCorps, Peace Corps or another full time service program.


The son of a single mother who worked as a housekeeper, Woods noted that he would not have been able to attend college had it not been for a Congressional Appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point. There, Woods graduated on the Dean’s List, served on the Honor Committee, and went on to command more than 80 soldiers over the course of two combat deployments to Iraq.


Upon his return home, Woods went on to participate in numerous volunteer service projects, making four trips to New Orleans to help with post-Hurricane Katrina rebuilding efforts.


“Service for College is a win/win bargain that makes our country stronger and trains more Americans for the high-skill and high-wage jobs that will keep us economically competitive,” Woods said. “I’ve seen first hand the tremendous need for, as well as the impact of, national service. I’ve seen the need for more people in our military, so we are not constantly straining our troops to the breaking point. I’ve seen the need for committed citizens who can help fill in the gaps for neighbors in need here at home. And I’ve seen how national service transforms people and helps build a model of life-long engagement that is America at its best.”


Despite the widely held view that access to higher education is critical for American workers looking to compete in the global economy of the 21st Century, recent studies have found that it is increasingly out of reach for millions of American families. Similar studies have noted higher education access as a challenge for American businesses seeking to replace retiring baby boomers so they can compete in emerging technology fields in a rapidly changing global marketplace.


The Workforce Alliance has reported that the United States is trailing other industrialized nations in terms of workforce development investment, and spending 29% less on workforce development than it did during the late 1980’s. The Alliance has also suggested that baby boomer retirements coupled with continued under-investment in American workforce development could yield a shortage of 5.3 million skilled US workers by the year 2010.


In 2008, the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education (NCPPHE) gave 49 states a “failing grade” in terms of college affordability, noting that costs were increasing substantially while wages remained stagnant. In an interview following release of these findings, NCPPHE’s President linked recent tuition increases with disproportionate cuts in support from state governments looking to close budget gaps.


“For too long, politicians have used cuts to public schools and financial aid programs, as well as tuition hikes at universities as a means for closing budget gaps,” Woods wrote. “We know that these short-sighted decisions come at an immense long-term cost to America’s economy, the competitiveness of our workforce, and ultimately, our security.”


“After WWII, millions of Americans called to serve were able to access college through the GI Bill. America then experienced 25 years of innovation and prosperity, and the continued contributions of a generation steeped in national service,” Woods added. “As a proud member of the millennial generation, which is the largest in history, I am convinced that plans like Service to College can unlock even greater potential, enhancing our competitiveness, growing our economy and strengthening our communities for decades to come.”


Anthony Woods is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He is a veteran of two combat tours in Iraq, and was awarded both the Bronze Star and Army Commendation Medal for his service. Woods is a native of Fairfield, CA, and is campaigning for the expected Special Election to replace Representative Ellen Tauscher (nominated to serve in the Obama Administration) in California’s 10th District.

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