The September 11 attacks and the anthrax-related killings in the weeks since are tragic reminders that acts of terrorism can happen in our own backyard.
President Bush and other government officials have stressed that the threat of further attacks will need to be taken seriously for years to come, regardless of when the conflict in Afghanistan concludes or Osama bin Laden is captured.
With that in mind, the president announced on November 8 that the federal government plans to expand full-time, opportunities for young people to take part in homeland defense efforts. Specifically, Bush said the Americorps program and its sister Senior Corps program would provide 20,000 volunteers to take part in a variety of community-based safety initiatives. Americorps is the government program that allows young people to help pay for college through a year or two of community service work.
Some 10,000 Americorps and Senior Corps will be put to work assisting local fire and police departments so that cops and firefighters can concentrate on the most important duties requiring their expertise. Approximately 5,000 Americorps and Senior Corps volunteers will be needed to help public health agencies in their fight against bioterrorism. Finally, the president said another 5,000 Americorps volunteers will help the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the government's disaster relief agency.
The White House has formed a new task force to find ways volunteers can prepare their communities for terrorist attacks in much the same way neighborhoods prepared for bombings during World War II. On top of all that, Senators John McCain and Evan Bayh have asked Congress to expand Americorps five-fold, with the goal of having 200,000 volunteers enlisted eight years from now.
Young people can also get involved in numerous other national and local
non-profits. The Red Cross offers a wide
variety of opportunities for youth to get involved. Volunteers can sign up to be
part of the Disaster Action Team (DAT) in their neighborhood and be
trained in community disaster education, disaster preparation and general
Finally, young people can visit MTV's Fight For Your Rights, to find other volunteer opportunities in their area or
to find information about civil rights groups that are fighting the
discriminatory backlash resulting from the events of September 11.
To learn more about Americorps and its homeland security efforts, click
here or to volunteer, click here.
To read about Senator McCain and Senator Bayh's proposal to expand the program, click here .
To learn about part-time or full-time volunteer opportunities with the Red Cross, click here.
To get involved in the fight against discrimination, go to the Fight For
Your Rights Web site.
Share your thoughts on the attacks in Afghanistan You Tell Us.
An MTV News Staff report
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