A Postwar Call to Service

McChrystal weighs in at HKS panel on needs of newest veterans

March 13, 2013
by Katie Koch, Harvard staff writer

After more than a decade of war, the United States faces a rising domestic challenge: reintegrating more than a million veterans who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, and another million expected to come home in the coming years. To help them build new lives, the nation must channel that generation’s enthusiasm for service, said Gen. Stanley McChrystal, former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) on Monday (March 11).

“When we send young people away, we’re responsible for them,” McChrystal told a packed audience during a discussion of veterans’ policies at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum. “Not to give them something, but to give them an opportunity to continue to serve, give them a place to fit in.”

The event, “Ask What You Can Do For America’s Veterans,” preceded a campus dinner for Harvard veterans and active-duty service members, a biennial tradition organized by the Center for Public Leadership, the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and the Harvard Veterans Alumni Organization. Veterans were honored at the panel session as well. After service members in the audience stood to be recognized, President Drew Faust addressed the crowd by video.

“You represent to our entire University community what it means to be a soldier and a scholar, binding action and thought as you pursue wisdom,” Faust said. “I pledge to you that we will continue to foster a campus environment in which military service is upheld as one of the finest examples of public service.”

Later at the veterans’ dinner, Christine Heenan, Harvard’s vice president for public affairs and communications, announced that Faust had received the Navy Distinguished Public Service Award from Navy Secretary Ray Mabus for her work in reinstating the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps on campus in 2011, after a 40-year absence of an official military presence at Harvard.

“Her deep appreciation for the sacrifices made by members of the armed forces has inspired many members of the Harvard community to heed the call for public service,” Heenan said of Faust.

Read more on the Harvard Gazette website.

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General Stanley McChrystal at the JFK Jr. Forum

General Stanley McChrystal at the JFK Jr. Forum
Photo Credit: Jon Chase, Harvard staff photographer

“When we send young people away, we’re responsible for them,” McChrystal told a packed audience during a discussion of veterans’ policies at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum. “Not to give them something, but to give them an opportunity to continue to serve, give them a place to fit in.”