Tags: Bush | Sees | Freedom | Civilian | Service

Bush Sees Freedom in Civilian Service

Wednesday, 30 January 2002 12:00 AM

A day after delivering his first

"It's a chance to serve your nation," Bush said, " ... be a part of making sure your community is prepared for any emergency that might happen."

The focus on the public's participation in homeland defense came after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York City and the Pentagon that left some 3,000 people dead. In the ensuing months, firefighters and police became heroes, and stories of flight crews and airline passengers banding together to halt terrorist attacks captured the nation's attention.

Bush's initiative harkens back to the Cold War era when, at the height of the Federal Civil Defense Administration's operations, schoolchildren were taught to take cover under their desks during air-raid and nuclear-attack drills, and adults patrolled the streets at night.

The White House said Bush intends to ask Congress for $560 million in new funding in fiscal year 2003 for the USA Freedom Corps, a "comprehensive integrated citizen service" initiative that will serve as the umbrella organization for three major programs.

The initiative creates an office, USA Freedom Corps Council, inside the White House. It will make recommendations to the president on ways to enhance civic service.

First under the new initiative will be a newly created Citizens Corps, similar to the civilian defense units of the 1950s. Bush's budget request will seek $144 million in matching funds to support the formation and training of a local Citizen Corps Council, the White House said. The initiative would tap the services of retired doctors and nurses, teachers, utility workers and citizens in rebuilding communities locally and around the world.

On Tuesday night, Bush urged every American to commit 4,000 hours, or two years, in service to the country.

Another budget request would ask Congress for $230 million to create a Medical Reserve Corps, a Volunteers in Police Service program and a Terrorist Information and Prevention System. It would bolster the Neighborhood Watch Program and the Community Emergency Response Team.

"But one of the things we're asking is for people to volunteer, ex-policemen or ex-firefighters, retired docs or nurses; make yourself available to be a part of your emergency response teams in Winston-Salem, N.C., or any other community in North Carolina, or the country, for that matter," Bush said.

Second, the initiative would improve and enhance the AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs, Bush said. AmeriCorps was created in 1993 by President Clinton and is known as the domestic Peace Corps, working on projects such as teaching children to read, building affordable homes and responding to natural disasters.

Bush said he would seek to add 100,000 new Senior Corps participants, 25,000 new AmeriCorps volunteers and 75,000 local volunteers. Bush said he also plans to restore the Peace Corps to its full strength with 15,000 volunteers over the next five years. Created by President Kennedy, the Peace Corps now has 7,000 volunteers working in 70 countries.

Bush said he wanted to "revitalize the mission" of the Peace Corps and encourage it "to go into the Islamic world to spread the message of economic development and really share the compassion of a great nation, and that is America."

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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A day after delivering his first It's a chance to serve your nation, Bush said, ... be a part of making sure your community is prepared for any emergency that might happen. The focus on the public's participation in homeland defense came after the Sept. 11 attacks...
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Wednesday, 30 January 2002 12:00 AM
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