Non-Profit Celebrating and Supporting Military Enlistees


College degrees aren’t the right solution for every high school graduate, but college graduates often get more community recognition and support than their counterparts who choose other paths.

“Our Community Salutes (OCS), is a national non-profit organization that recognizes and honors high school seniors (and their parents) who plan to enlist into the military following high school graduation,” founder and President Dr. Kenneth Hartman told The Virginia Star.

OCS holds a national celebration every year, and also has local community celebrations, including in Virginia. In 2020, the national celebration was held virtually, and featured senior military leaders, an astronaut, and celebrity Terry Crews. On July 4, the OCS America Salutes! program will again be live-streamed.

According to Hartman, in April through May, local Virginia communities in Richmond, Fairfax, Fredericksburg, and central Virginia will also host celebrations.

“These ceremonies are dedicated to recognizing a high school student’s decision to enlist in the armed services after graduation versus pursuing other opportunities available to them, such as work, college, or trade careers,” the OCS website states.

The programs are organized by parents and community members and funded by donations.

But the celebrations aren’t the only feature of OCS. Student enlistees also receive a pocket guide of the Constitution, and a series of programs, including a financial literacy program.

“What do you do with a kid who gets a $40,000 signing bonus? There really was no place for new service members and their parents to go,” Hartman told “We asked the parents what they wished they would have known before their kids joined the military and an important one was financial literacy. The other was college and career planning.”

OCS also focuses on community support. “Thank you for being part of the 5 percent of those willing to service their country as a member of the strongest and best military in the world. Your classmates will never understand the experiences you are about to have. Best wishes,” said Doug from Virginia.

Leaders including Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA-11) and former Congressman Robert Hurt (R-VA-05) have supported OCS enlistees.

“At a time when many of their peers are pursuing vocational training or college degrees, these young men and women have instead chosen to dedicate themselves to military service,” said former Congressman Robert Andrews (D-NJ-01) in a press release. “It is thanks to their sacrifices that the United States of America remains a beacon of hope and freedom in a fractious world.”

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network.  Email tips to [email protected]

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