Policy Options for Army Involvement in Youth Development

by Elizabeth Heneghan Ondaatje

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This report presents a framework for examining the Army's role in youth development activities. It argues that the growing popularity of youth community service and the urge in policy circles to draw upon the military to help youth suggest that youth development will be increasingly important for the Army. It further argues that the Army's current efforts are insufficient to withstand the mounting pressure on the Army to do more for the nation's youth. The report posits five options for expanding the youth development effort, compares them in terms of such factors as how much effort they require and who participates, and then presents a framework for evaluating the impact of the options on such things as Army missions and budgets. The report recommends that the Army understand what it is already doing for civilian youth and quantify the benefits of military service for the nation's youth who serve in the military and that the Army attempt to reduce the polarization of the current debate over whether support for youth development is an appropriate Army role.

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