A patriotic organization has spent the last 15 years honoring thousands of young service members and encouraging high school students to consider enlisting in the U.S. military.
Former U.S. Army officer Ken Hartman says Our Community Salutes encourages young men and women to enter the military and use their time to develop as civilians and improve society.
"It's the leadership skills that are developed in the military that serve you not only in future employment opportunities, but as a citizen," Hartman told "America Reports" on Tuesday. "Not only do we have fewer and fewer kids who are interested in serving in the military, which obviously creates a very, very serious national defense issue, but the military has historically served as a vehicle for advancement in our society and today, young people are hearing narratives from both sides of the spectrum and being discouraged to serve."
Hartman says statistics demonstrate service members complete college degrees sooner, earn more money over the course of their lifetime and develop a network of individuals that will benefit them long-term.
He shared an inspiring story of Marine Corps’ member Javier Galvan, who created his American dream as an immigrant by enlisting and later becoming a physician.
"Historically, the military has been that ladder, been that venue for people to advance, to give them access to the American dream and unfortunately what happens now is that young people are hearing from both sides that it's not a viable option when in fact... 75% of the kids who go into the military are only going to serve for four years, and then they're going to pursue their dreams," he said. "(It’s) very important to get that message out and that it still is a very viable option."