What is service work?

“It shouldn’t just be military service members; it ought to be, every American views themselves as a service member for each other.  In many ways I think the concept of service in America has become too narrow, defined by the idea that military are the only service members in our country.” – General Stanley McChrystal (Ret)

So there you have it, General McChrystal I think sums it up very well in that service to this nation shouldn’t be defined as narrowly as what is often thought of as military service.  My name is Jerome, and I have the unique experience of not only serving my nation as a Sailor in the US Navy from 2004 to 2012, but since transitioning to a civilian, I’ve been working at a nonprofit for nearly three years now.  Understanding that these are two very different cultures, with very different missions and tasks, should they be viewed as different when thinking of “service” to the United States?  I think my opinion four years ago would have been a “yes”, but I think as a mature as a professional working in the nonprofit management field, my answer has changed.  I do believe that someone can serve their country without having served in the Armed Force or local law enforcement or emergency service.

When I currently think of what it means to serve our nation, I think of several factors.  Does this service help American’s in need?  Does it help provide a service or commodity that wouldn’t otherwise be available?  Does this make a positive change in the lives of those in that specific community?  Does it uplift the spirits of the community or population you serve?  I think if you can answer yes to most or all of them, than you’re giving back to your country.  The first thing I always tell a volunteer who selflessly gives their time to any cause is that time is such a precious commodity, you’re not guaranteed tomorrow, you cannot make up time in a day like you would a dollar at work, and as a human you bring so many more skills than a dollar amount.  There are many ways to serve your nation without having to pick up a rifle.

So what do you think?  What else can be considered service to this nation?