Discover how an educator and military veteran is ensuring high school seniors deciding to join the military receive a glorious recognition.
In addition to financial aid and scholarships, there are many paths students can take to help them pay for college, including enlisting in the military. While this route is not traditionally a first choice among high school students their senior year (or their parents), joining the Armed Forces has its rewards—not to mention the honorable commitment to serve our country.
The concept of joining the military verses enrolling in college after graduation, has taken a back seat in public schools in comparison to the pomp and circumstance college-bound seniors typically receive. Military.com adds, “School districts, high schools and families rightly make a big deal about students getting accepted to college. But universities aren’t the only destination for graduating high school seniors.”
Our Community Salutes is a national, non-profit organization working to highlight the grandeur of the military enlistment decision. Created by an educator and U.S. Army veteran, Dr. Kenneth Harman, OSC helps communities support high school seniors enlisting in the U.S. Armed Services after their high school graduation ceremony via the annual America Salutes ceremony.
Other OSC sponsored community events occur across the United States support enlistee parents/guardians.
According to OCS, the 2021 America Salutes—the master ceremony—will premiere via livestream on July 4 and will air several times in July and August of 2021. This event will be hosted by celebrities and prominent military members from all U.S. branches, with special, high-profile messages thanking students for their decision to serve our country.
In 2020, the America Salutes celebration featured guest speaker, CPT Christopher Cassidy a NASA astronaut and the Commander of Expedition 63. Military.com reports the “virtual event reached more than 11,000 viewers.”
Virtual attendees were also greeted with thank you messages from country music artist, Brantley Gilbert; Michigan State University coach, Tom Izzo; Grammy nominated singer/songwriter, Jewel; American actor, Robert Patrick and many more.
Community-Hosted Ceremonies for Student Enlistees
In addition to the primary ceremony, parents, educators, and business leaders organize OCS ceremony events across the nation each year. These local events lift up students, parents, and families as they transition into the military. According to Military.com and Hartman, “tens of thousands” of high school enlistees have been honored by “hundreds of thousands” of community members since 2009.
Students receive an OCS certificate of recognition, a U.S. Constitution pocket guide, and various gifts from OCS sponsors.
The U.S. territory and states participating in community-level OCS events include:
• New Hampshire
• New Jersey
• New York
• South Carolina
• Puerto Rico
Nearly 40 city, counties or regions from these states and U.S. territory offer OSC receptions within their communities.
Understanding the importance of higher education and the advantages of a college degree, the program also offers students and their parents OCS Connect. This additional layer of support provides resources and information on how to pursue a university degree and field training while serving.
Enlistees can also learn about Veterans benefits programs they can use after they have served in the military.