Left of Boom Episode 5: Adding Women to the Military Draft (Ft. Brig. Gen. Joe Heck)

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Left of Boom Episode 5 Ft. Joe Heck
Left of Boom Episode 5 Ft. Joe Heck

It has been 50 years since the last Americans were drafted, but the nation continues to require men ages 18 to 26 to register with the Selective Service, an insurance policy in case the nation faces and unforeseen security crisis requiring mass mobilization. This spring, a congressionally appointed commission completed a multi-year study of military and national service that addressed, among other questions, whether America should still have a draft system, and whether women should be required to register for the draft for the first time in history. To talk about all that, we're joined by Dr. Joe Heck, an Army Reserve brigadier general and the chairman of the National Commission on Military, National and Public service. Among the questions the commission tackled: whether, for the first time in history, women should be required to register for a possible draft.

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The following is an edited transcript of this episode of Left of Boom:

Hope Hodge Seck 0:00

Welcome back to Left of Boom. I'm Hope Seck. Earlier this year, before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, I had the chance to meet the head of the U.S. Selective Service System, Donald Benton, at SSS headquarters in Rosslyn, Virginia. Inside a very conventional office space and a very unremarkable office building is a tiny side room full of all these artifacts, a museum dedicated to the military draft. I was able to turn the handle of the real draft machine used to randomly select men to fight for the nation in World War II, and to hold the blue capsules that were drawn, lottery-style, for Vietnam. It's easy to close your eyes and imagine the stomach-churning anxiety, as young men and their families waited for those numbers to be drawn. Some were eager to serve. Others hated and dreaded the thought. But all must answer their nation's call or face the consequences. Well, it has been 50 years since the last Americans were drafted. But the nation continues to require men ages 18 to 26 to register with the Selective Service, an insurance policy in case the nation faces and unforeseen security crisis requiring mass mobilization. This spring, a congressionally appointed commission completed a multi-year study of military and national service that addressed, among other questions, whether America should still have a draft system, and whether women should be required to register for the draft for the first time in history. To talk about all that, we're joined by Joe Heck, the chairman of the National Commission on Military, National and Public service. Joe knows a little something about service himself. He's a former Republican congressman from Nevada, a brigadier general in the U.S. Army Reserve and a board-certified physician, among other roles. You can find out more about his work with the commission and its findings at Inspire2Serve, 2 like the number 2, Inspire2Serve.US. Dr. Joe Heck, Welcome to the show.

Joe Heck 2:04

Thanks, Hope.

Hope Hodge Seck 2:06

So your commission had dozens of findings about the nature of service and citizenship, and military recruiting and retention. But the question that I think it's fair to say the public was most interested in, and in fact, the question the commission was created to answer, was whether women should be required to register for the Selective Service System, which would make them eligible for a possible future draft. And in March, your report came out, and it said, Yes, women should have to register for the draft. So now it's possible that we'll see that requirement become part of the current defense policy bill being debated or even a future one. So can you take me inside that deliberative process? Was there a vote and was it unanimous? And how did you all ultimately come to make the recommendation that you made?

Joe Heck 2:52

Great, well, that's a great question. Okay. So as you mentioned that the commission was formed in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, with the primary charge of evaluating the Selective Service System and determining whether or not any modifications were necessary to better support the 21st century force. So it wasn't just about whether or not women should have to register, but what other changes might be necessary for the Selective Service System. So the commission for the first time in the nation's history was a single entity charged with evaluating, holistically, service across all service lines to the American nation. And in order to understand what the current thought was behind service to the nation, whether it be military, national, public service, the commission undertook a very robust research agenda, and in addition traveled across the country to talk to the American people. So we traveled to all nine census districts, 22 states, 42 cities, met with over 500 different organizations, solicited almost 4,500 public comments across all of the questions that we were charged to evaluate. As one would expect, the most passionate debate took place nationally as well as within the commission itself on the question as to whether or not women should have to register for Selective Service. I think one of the things that became apparent quickly, as we travel the nation and talk to the American public, was the disconnect or the lack of understanding amongst the American people about the Selective Service System and the draft. Most conflate the two entities is one single organization. It is not right -- the Selective Service System is a separate governmental entity whose responsibility it is to maintain the database of names and then to conduct a lottery to identify those who may be called to a draft, should a draft be enacted. So we know in order to enact the draft, Congress would actually have to pass a law that the president would sign that would actually institute a draft, so two separate entities. And so as we did the kind of education process, as we traveled around the nation, I think we helped informed people's opinions. Ultimately, the commission made the recommendation that we needed to maintain the Selective Service System. We did make some recommendations on how to modernize it. And then we came down with the recommendation that women should have to register. That recommendation was based on two broad strategic imperatives. The first was standards; it should all be about standards. There's been a lot in the media lately, and most of your listeners have probably heard, you know, only about 29% of America's youth between the ages of 17 and 24 of the prime recruiting ages actually would qualify for military service without a waiver. The other 71% have issues medical problems, behavioral health issues, prior law enforcement issues, drug problems, grooming stuff, so many things that would keep them out of the military. So, in the event that the nation would need to resort to a draft, it would not make sense to exclude just about 50% of the population, when you already have only 29% of the population that would qualify, right. So you would significantly decrease the pool of eligible individuals, if you took out the female population, at roughly 50% of the country. So it was about standards. If you can meet the standards, you should potentially have to serve in the event that the nation faces an existential threat that resulted in a draft, right all about standards. If you meet the standards, you should be able to serve. The second overarching strategic imperative was about equality. And this was really equality based on rights and responsibilities of citizenship. So every American enjoys the rights that are enshrined within the Constitution. And therefore every American should have a responsibility to defend those rights when in danger. And so it was if you enjoy the right to the Constitution and the rights of citizenship, you should be responsible for defending those rights if they were under threat. So two overarching imperative strategic thoughts that ultimately drove the conditions discussion, the ultimate decision to recommend that women should be required to register for Selective Service.

Hope Hodge Seck 7:49

And these recommendations, were they voted up or down where it was it sort of a mutual arrival at a conclusion by the commissioners, how did that process look?

Joe Heck 8:00

So as you know, the commission is made up of 11 commissioners that were originally appointed by the president and congressional leadership at the time. It was President Obama who made the appointments for the presidential appointments. So a bipartisan group of commissioners who I believe truly acted in a non-partisan way, with robust discussion, with respect for each other's opinions, and all of the recommendations, all 164 recommendations contained within our final report, Inspired to Serve, represent a consensus document from the commissioners, all of whom signed the final report. So all of the recommendations were presented as consensus recommendations endorsed by the entire commission.

Hope Hodge Seck 8:45

Getting a group that big to agree on 164 different findings in this divisive era is just incredible. Not everyone may know this, but you have some unique positions of experience that they you speak from, since you rose to become a brigadier general in the Army Reserve, and you've also served as a member of Congress. But I wanted to ask and perhaps prompt some reflection: When you entered the U.S. Army in 1991, I believe it was, women were not only barred from the front lines of combat, they were not even allowed to fly fighter jets for a few more years. It doesn't seem all that long ago, but it was a very different world. Would you have supported allowing women to register for the draft back then? And I'm just curious, you know, how your own thinking with the times has evolved on the matter.

Joe Heck 9:39

Right. So I've been truly fortunate, honored and blessed to have been able to serve and continue to serve in multiple positions of command and leadership throughout my now 29 and counting years of service in uniform. And throughout that time period, regardless of what the policy or regulatory restrictions were on female members, female members served just as capably as their male counterparts. And my personal opinion was, and still is, that if if you meet the standards and can do the job, then there should be no restriction upon anyone from filling any particular role in the U.S. military. And I think that that's where a lot of the public debate went sideways. You know, detractors would say, Well, you know, DoD is going to lessen the standards in order for women to be able to meet the standards. And I can tell you that I served with literally hundreds of women during the course of my career, that beat the pants off their male counterparts in many of the standards. So again, you you develop a standard and you hold everyone accountable. That is how I have functioned as a commander and I believe that's what the Department of Defense is doing. When they opened up combat roles to all members of the military, I served in Iraq. And even though at that time, women were still technically prohibited from serving in combat roles, tell that to an 88 Mike truck driver on convoy operations, driving through the remote areas of Anbar Province. That female was at just as much risk of being put into a combat position as any of her male counterparts.

Hope Hodge Seck 11:33

I also wanted to touch on society's thinking which I've seen a pretty remarkable evolution just on, you know, being able to countenance this idea. Really, for a very long time the the prospect of American daughters being drafted was sort of a bogeyman, that was brought up in discussions of whether women should be even allowed to serve in combat or combat-adjacent positions. It was seen as this very new, negative dangerous thing. And now, of course, the ball is in Congress's court to potentially turn this into policy. And from what I've been able to gather, the idea of, you know, including women and requiring them to register for Selective Service, it's lost some of the the shock value and it doesn't kind of generate that same reaction as it used to. But from what you've seen the the conversations you've had ,the hearings you've taken in, are people, by and large, more comfortable with the idea of women having to register than they were 10 years ago, and what might play into that?

Joe Heck 12:39

I believe so. I think as, you know, there's been a demographic shift, and certainly those that are younger see this as less of a controversy than those from older generations. Included in our travels were multiple visits to varying military installations, including Army recruiting command, and Army cadet command at Fort Knox. And I would say almost universally, when the question was put to those currently serving in uniform, they all supported the position that the commission ultimately took. And I think that as you pointed out correctly, the historical role or context that women are viewed through as the, you know, the nurturer or the center of gravity of the family unit. And certainly, the arguments that we heard from the American public against requiring women registration, pretty much centered on that, you know, perceived role of female of the female in society, right, that we should not be drafting our mothers, daughters and sisters because they had a unique vital role in the in society as the as the mother nurturer, center of gravity for the family unit. And we recognized and you know, recognize that that thought process and that position. I mean, even those who were opposed to female registration said look, if we wind up in war and there's a draft and a woman wants to volunteer for that position, they have no concerns with that, right. But their concern was the in voluntarily taking of a female from the family unit, potentially put them into harm's way. And I think the other piece that we had to spend a lot of time in, is educating those with whom we spoke is that this is simply requiring the person to register, right? It does not automatically mean that they're going to become a, you know, an Army 11 Bravo infantry person with a rifle in a trench. And we know that did you go back to World War II, over 50% of draftees did not serve in combat roles. So again, the individual would register, should they be selected by random lottery for potential induction, they would go through the same process as their male counterparts, they would be assessed based on their capabilities, and they would be placed into a position that best suited their abilities as well as the needs of the service, right. It doesn't necessarily mean they're all going to become infantry grunts.

Hope Hodge Seck 15:32

We'll be right back.

Hi, it's Hope Seck interrupting my own podcast, make sure that you're signed up for Military.com's free newsletters. We just launched a new one, At Ease, all about military entertainment news. You can also sign up for active-duty and veteran newsletters with insider information specific to your service, as well as once focused on crucial topics like finance jobs and pay. Go to Military.com and select login in the upper right hand corner to register for free and get started. All right, back to the show.

So another question the commission took up and you refer to this earlier, is whether we should continue to maintain a Selective Service System at all. We haven't drafted Americans since the Vietnam War. And we fought a number of wars since, there's a strong all-volunteer force, without having to deploy that mechanism. And some say it's high time to get rid of it. So how did the commission approach that question, and how did you ultimately reach the conclusion that yes, we still need to maintain the system and, you know, potentially this this mechanism for possible future deployment?

Joe Heck 16:42

Right. Yeah. Also a very important question. So the initial discussions took place with the Department of Defense, right, to ask them why did they still believe they required a functioning Selective Service System, when none of their current operational plans are contingent upon a draft mechanism? And we currently spend about $24 million a year. That's the Selective Service System's budget to maintain a system, the registration system. And we have done so for the last several decades, without ever having to utilize the system. As you rightly point out, the Selective Service System and the draft were ceased in 1973 by Richard Nixon. And at that point, the Selective Service System was put into what they call a deep standby mode. And then in 1980, President Jimmy Carter decided to reinstitute active Selective Service registration in response to the Russian invasion in Afghanistan. And so we looked historically from that time when the Selective Service System was reinstated, as to how long it took for them to be up and running. And we actually spoke to the individual who was responsible, Bernie Rostker, who was responsible for restarting the program. They were able to reconstitute the Selective Service, have a system and obtain greater than 90% compliance with registration in approximately three months. So we thought, Well, wait a minute. Yeah, that's, that's pretty good. If you can do it within three months, why do we need to spend $24 million a year for something we may not use? But when we peel that back a little bit further, you know, the decision was made to re-institute Selective Service registration six months prior to them actually starting to call for people to register. So really, there was a nine-month window. And that was with the program in a deep standby mode, not totally disestablished. So we had some concerns because the current requirement is that first inductees need to be delivered within 193 days, with 100,000 inductees presented with 210 days. That's the timeframe that the Department of Defense is counting on. And we felt that if you had a nine-month timeframe to six months from when you decided to institute, and then even if you were able to achieve greater than 90% compliance within three months, you're at 270 days outside that window. In addition, we looked at it, as I mentioned the Department of Defense's reason. So they call it a low-cost insurance policy, right? In the grand scheme of things when you look at the defense budget, $24 million is not a lot of money. So, it is a low-cost insurance policy to hedge, you know, existential threats that we do not foresee. They felt that it helped close the civ-mil divide by individuals who you know, would, males who would register would understand that they had an obligation to defend the nation. They also felt that it was a powerful deterrent to our adversaries to show the will to mobilize the nation. And they also said that it was an important tool to receive recruitment leads, right, so when when an individual registered, usually within a few months, they received a postcard from the service of saying, you know, come join the Army, Navy, Air Force Marine Corps. We looked at each one of those four things critically and found support for only two of them. We did not find any evidence that it closed the civ-mil divide primarily because registration now the vast majority of registrations is a passive process, you know, an individual's going for their driver's license, they register for Selective Service. They don't really know the whole history behind it. They're applying for financial aid for college, and they fill out their FAFSA form, and it asks you if you're male, have you registered with selective service? If you answer No, it takes you to the web page, right? So so it's a passive process where people really aren't actively thinking about the responsibilities coming from that registration, so we don't believe it closes the civ-mil divide. In our discussions with recruiting commands, we really did not find any documented evidence that the leads generated through the Selective Service System for recruitment had really yielded any tangible results. So we even discounted those two, but felt that the insurance policy perspective, as well as the messaging of a deterrent to our adversaries, did hold merit. And so we, you know, decided, again, that we should maintain the Selective Service System, although we caveat, that recommendation with requiring the Department of Defense to relook their timelines to make sure that they know that 193, 210 day timeline is truly valid, is part of the issue that we've seen over the last few decades, is the downsizing of the CONUS-based institutional structure. And so could the military actually receive that many recruits in that short of a time period based on current physical constraints within the training base, and we also asked to select a service system to regularly exercise the whole mational mobilization process, something that has not been done in quite some time.

Hope Hodge Seck 22:04

For our audience, CONUS, of course, is continental United States. And since it plays so deeply into this discussion and a lot of the questions you took up, could you just briefly define, you know, what the civ-mil divide is?

Joe Heck 22:18

Sure. So there's this apparent growing disconnect between the civilian populace writ large and those that serve in uniform, right. And we know that, in a nation of roughly 330 million people, less than one half of 1% currently served in a uniform of our armed forces. So a very small number is bearing the burden for the vast majority of the population. And what we've also found, you know, is that roughly recent polling 41% of today's youth again, those in the prime recruiting ages of 17 to 24, have never even considered joining the military. We see that those that do join the military, the recruits that are accessed, come from specific geographic regions, primarily the southeast, and the west southwest areas that have high concentrations of military bases. And so we are becoming a more insular military. Likewise, it's becoming more of a family business: I serve because my father served, my grandfather served my uncle served, my mother served. And so what we're seeing is this disconnect between the demographic and the makeup of those who wear the uniform and the general population of the United States, and certainly with the utilization of military force. Outside, you know, declarations of war with robust debate within the halls of Congress. the general population of the nation truly does not understand the roles and responsibilities of those who wear the uniform So I think what we need to do is to close that civ-mil divide is to increase awareness of what service in the military is all about. And it can't just be, you know, the TV ads showing somebody driving a tank and flying a helicopter. It's getting the message out that no matter what career or job you want to do in the civilian world, you can do it in uniform. And that there's incredible opportunities to serve in uniform to grow your skills, your knowledge, and your capabilities that will then serve you well throughout your life. And so those are some of the challenges that we face. And some of the recommendations that we make, are geared towards addressing that like increasing Junior ROTC programs. Even though those programs are designed to be more of a civic program and a leadership program, not a tool to get people into the military, it does increase military awareness. We make recommendations that the ASVAB, Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery program be utilized in more high schools so that individuals have an opportunity to be able to understand what job or MOS in the military they might qualify for. So so we do make recommendations on how to try to help close that civ-mil divide.

Hope Hodge Seck 25:16

So interestingly, and this dovetails well with what you've been talking about, the commission did ask the question, whether some form of national service be it Teach for America, Peace Corps, local volunteerism, military service, etc, should be mandatory. So there have been many recent passionate arguments from brilliant and thoughtful people saying, Yes, we need mandatory service. Former UN Ambassador Susan Rice recently said at the commission's concluding event, that having a requirement that each young American gives something like a year to service would make a more equal society and help to break down racial and economic boundaries and prejudices simply by exposing people to others who have different backgrounds and experiences. Others have said requiring military service would make it harder for the nation to go to war, and make Americans more invested in the conflicts we do get involved in. Yhe commission ultimately decided, as I understand it, that service should remain voluntary, but there should be more opportunities and more points of entry. So can you tell me more about that particular recommendation?

Joe Heck 26:25

Yeah, another very important question that we were charged to answer. And likewise, another one that invoked a lot of passionate debate both amongst the general public and the commissioners themselves. We are fortunate that in America, we have a spirit of service that does exist. I mean, we are a nation that is built on service. And as we traveled around the nation and talk to those who currently serve, it is apparent that great things are being done every day across this nation, from those who give voluntarily of their time, sweat and talent. The commission, after reviewing all of the pros and cons about voluntary versus mandatory service, felt that it would be best to try to nurture that spirit of service into a culture of service into an expectation of service. So that by 2031, which is we call it Vision 2031, which is where we hope to have our recommendations adopted and implemented over the course of the next decade. And we picked 2031 because it's the 70th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's inaugural speech in which he asked or called to serve, you know, Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. So we want to nurture that into a culture of service, in which it would be expected that every individual would spend some time in service and that it would not be unusual to be asked, So how will you serve? Why did we not make the recommendation for mandatory service? And we also should say, met with foreign nations that do have some type of mandatory service to understand how it worked in their country, and the pros and cons that they faced. You know, de Yocqueville traveled to America in the early 1800s, he was taken aback by the fact that what made Americans unique was they're joining together in times of need to support each other, something that had was, you know, anathema in European nations. And so we want to build on that, you know, there are some logistical issues towards mandatory national service at any time. One is, again, as I mentioned, you know, a population of 330 million people, when you look at the cohort that, let's say is between 17 and 24. You're looking at roughly 32 million people a year. How do you create 32 million service opportunities, right, if you're going to require everybody to serve, there is a significant expense associated with that. And we we don't want people to serve just for the sake of serving, right. We want to make sure that they have an opportunity that provides value to themselves and worth to those whom they serve, right. So that's one thing. The second piece also, quite honestly, we had the constitutional debate as to whether or not you could force individuals into mandatory service. Certainly in a draft, there are exceptions made, you know, in the constitution for raising and supporting armies, providing and maintaining a Navy, which is the construct under which a draft is allowed, but there is no such construct for other forms of service. And so, under the 14th amendment, you know, are we looking at involuntary servitude, if you're forcing somebody into service. So, again, we felt that the importance of voluntary service outweighed the requirement to make everybody serve. And if I can just quickly segue, and we try to create that culture of service by reinvigorating civic education and calling for service learning opportunities, because we know that if you expose individuals to service at a younger age, odds are much more likely that they will continue to look for opportunities to serve throughout their life.

Hope Hodge Seck 30:07

And how young are we talking?

Joe Heck 30:08

Well, so we look at instituting civic education, you know, throughout the K-12 curriculum. We're not talking about a simple, you know, one semester of U.S. government in high school. But there are states that have best practices, which we've included in our report, where civic education is actually weaved through every subject throughout the K-12 curriculum. When it comes to service learning, we talk about providing a, you know, let's say in middle school, a finite service project, right. So you take one day in middle school and you've allowed to create you participate in some type of service project. In high school, we talked about semesters of service, where you spent a semester in a service project that has a capstone event at the end. We talked about a year of voluntary service upon graduation of high school before going on to college. Many today utilize that as their gap year to determine perhaps what it is they want to do before entering college. We want to change that into a bridge here, where everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status, or affluence, has the ability to take that year off between high school and college and provide some form or participate in some form of service, which may better help them decide what they want to do when they actually get into college. And then we look at the post-college programs like Peace Corps, AmericaCorps, and we take it all the way through the Senior Corps programs that currently exists for those who previously served, and now in their twilight years have time and energy and talent to get back and reengage in SeniorCorps programs. So it's, it's creating a cradle to grave spectrum of service opportunities that will ultimately result in this culture, an expectation of service.

Hope Hodge Seck 31:52

Wow. So another recommendation that my military audience will be interested in I think is is the recommendation for the creation of a critical skills individual ready reserve, or IRR, to hedge against unforeseen needs. What is that? And what would it do as proposed?

Joe Heck 32:13

Right, so one of the other questions that was posed to us by Congress was to identify what the critical skills needs are of the nation, and how we would best be able to recruit and retain individuals into those critical skills into military, national, public service. And they laid out broad categories, including healthcare, education, defense, cyber. Upon our review, the commission felt that it wasn't appropriate for us to actually determine what the critical skills are, because what we determine our critical skills today in five or 10 years may be outdated and no longer considered critical. So what we opted to do was to create a pathway to have individuals have critical skills as defined by the DoD, government, whatever agency is required to be able to have a ready pool of individuals in that regard. And so that's where we come up with this concept of a critical skills individual ready reserve. Now, most of your military listeners are familiar with the IRR in the military construct, kind of a place where you go post your active reserve, you know, time, your ready reserve time to fill out your commitment, where there really is no obligation. But you're just kind of in the pool of those who may be called back in the event of a great need. The critical skills IRR that we envision is not based on prior service. It's based on individuals who have the identified critical skill, whether it be a physician, nurse, an IT specialist, whomever who wants to voluntarily be part of an organization that would respond in times of crisis, so that we're not starting from zero, right? We already have, let's say a database of individuals in the critical skills IRR that have self-identified as being willing to respond if called upon. And then during their time in the IRR, that critical skills IRR, give them you know, the opportunity for necessary training that would be required should they be called, provide some incentive for them to remain in the IRR, these critical skills IRR. But the big difference between what we're recommending and what is currently the IRR is that it's not limited to those who have already served, but trying to get individuals without prior service who really don't want to serve in uniform, but are willing to respond for a greater need that the nation may have in the future into some organized entity, pre-identified, trained up and ready to call. So you would think in the current COVID pandemic, if there were individuals with healthcare backgrounds or admin, healthcare admin, right now the big need is for contact tracers. So we may have had folks in this critical skills IRR, who would be perfect contact racers who we could call up in this time of crisis and utilized and then sent back to the critical skills IRR window.

Hope Hodge Seck 35:09

Well, you're anticipating my train of thought here. So since the commission released its report, we've seen a global pandemic, an economic downturn of historic proportions and a national protest movement that has seen the president suggest invocation of the Insurrection Act. So just a quiet few months, really. So in light of all this, is there anything that either you'd wish to revisit in the report, or conversely, anything in these events that that makes you say, gee, I'm really glad we thought of that?

Joe Heck 35:46

Yeah. So as you know, we released our interim report in January of 2019, which was in the midst of the then-longest federal government shutdown in our nation's history. Right, and we released our final report, March 25, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. So the good news for your listeners is that the commission will not be issuing any other reports. Not that I'm trying to show a cause-effect relationship. But just to be safe, no more reports from the commission. I think, you know, to answer your question, as we finished our deliberations and voted on our recommendations to include in the report, at that time, we felt that should our recommendations be adopted, or had they been instituted previously, that our nation would be better prepared to respond to and more resilient to recover from the very type of pandemic that we are experiencing right now. So I think that the other 10 commissioners, not me, but the other 10 commissioners were prescient in the recommendations that we included in in our report, because again, should Congress see the value of the report and invest in the American people by adopting to recommendations we put forward, this nation will be better prepared to respond to and more resilient to recover from the next emergency, whether it be natural or manmade.

Hope Hodge Seck 37:12

So what was the most surprising or unexpected thing for you to come out of all the hearings and conversations and research you did, over the course of this time leading the commission?

Joe Heck 37:23

I think the thing that I was personally most surprised about, and I think many of the commissioners were, because I mentioned we made recommendations regarding civic education, that that was not part of our mandate. But as we traveled the nation and talk to the American public, they are the ones who brought up the apparent and appalling lack of consistent civic education across this country. And, and so that is why we took up the issue of civic education. For us, it has become the foundation upon which a lifetime of service will be built. How can you ask or expect someone to serve a nation when they truly have no understanding of the very principles upon which the nation was founded, and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship? And when you look at the federal government's involvement in civic education, we spend roughly $5 million a year on civic education, and $3.2 billion a year on science, technology, engineering and math. And so, you know, budgets are a reflection of priorities. And while STEM is very important, I would believe, and I believe the commissioners would say the same, that civic education is just as important. And not that we want to dictate curriculum to the states. That is not the federal government's job. But we do want to provide funding for the states to be able to adopt best practices that they see fit that best suit the needs of their students, in order to build this foundation of service because we know that those who serve wind up being higher earners, less reliant on social services, less interaction with the criminal justice system. So it's one of those things that an early investment in civic education and service learning will yield cost savings and dividends in the out years.

Hope Hodge Seck 39:18

That's a great food for thought there. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us and share your insights. Really fascinating stuff. What is next for you?

Joe Heck 39:30

Well, the condition officially dissolves on September 17. So that would be the end of our three-year tenure. So in the interim right now we're working with Congress to schedule hearings on the recommendation. So of course, we had a series of hearings scheduled in March, which were canceled due to the pandemics that we recently did a virtual hearing with the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. We're tentatively scheduled to appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee on July 23. And then closing down the shop. And then for me, I continue to wear the uniform, continue to serve as the commanding general of the 807 Medical Command base in Salt Lake City. We were intimately involved with the COVID-19 pandemic putting together medical teams that we sent all around the nation to the hardest-hit metropolitan areas to help provide medical care, save lives, as Gen. Luckey, the recently retired commanding general, as of this morning, of the United States Army Reserve Command would state uplift the spirits of the nation. So I will continue to focus my time and efforts on my job in uniform.

Hope Hodge Seck 40:38

Well, thanks for the work you do and thanks for being on the show.

Joe Heck 40:42

Thank you Hope.

Hope Hodge Seck 40:46

Thanks for joining us on another episode of Left of Boom. Again, I'm Hope Hope Seck doing it all as best I can make the show happen. We'll be putting out episodes every two weeks, so make sure you don't miss the show by hitting that subscribe button. And please go ahead and leave a review while you're at it. Since we've talked the House and Senate Armed Services committees have passed their versions of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2021. There's no provision this year to require women to register for the draft, but the issue may very well be part of next year's debate. There's also a hearing set to take place in late July to further discuss the commission's findings. Again, you can check out the commission's full report at Inspire2Serve.us. Have another issue you want us to tackle? Hit me up at podcast@military.com to let me know and remember to check out all the news affecting the military community every day at Military.com.

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