Young people are capable of extraordinary things as long as they are given the opportunity by the adults in their lives

An all-volunteer force depends on the willingness, capabilities, and capacities of a nation’s youth to serve. While much has been made of the paucity of youths who meet the physical and moral qualifications to serve in the military, there are also open questions about the desire of upcoming generations to serve. But what builds that desire, and what roles should older generations play? The film High School 911 tells the story of an emergency medical service in Darien, Connecticut staffed and run entirely by high school students. The results not only include a needed enhancement in a town’s emergency services but also the development of important life skills and empowerment of youth. High School 911 director Tim Warren and WAR ROOM Editor-in-Chief Andrew A. Hill discuss these and other topics related to the development of our future generations.



Tim Warren is director and producer of the documentary “High School 911.” Andrew A. Hill is Chair of Strategic Leadership at the U.S. Army War College. The views expressed in this presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Army War College, U.S. Army, or Department of Defense.

Photo: Photograph of members of Darien Post 53 Emergency Services from 2008, showing four teens and one of the adult mentors.

Photo Credit: Kevin Robinson, used with permission

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  1. A great example of providing opportunity and access to America’s youth. While some are quick to judge millennials, this effort born out of necessity empowers youth to learn early in their lives the importance of becoming adults of value who add value through service to their community. A tremendous life skills program that goes well beyond mere volunteering by creating an environment that promotes meaning and significance for young people to leverage and build upon into adulthood.

  2. Boomers & progeny have had it too easy for too long. We’ve become soft headed about our expectations of youth.

    “What, unless biological science is a mass of errors, is the cause of human intelligence and vigour? Hardship and freedom: conditions under which the active, strong, and subtle survive and the weaker go to the wall; conditions that put a premium upon the loyal alliance of capable men, upon self-restraint, patience, and decision. And the institution of the family, and the emotions that arise therein, the fierce jealousy, the tenderness for offspring, parental self-devotion, all found their justification and support in the imminent dangers of the young.”

    ― H.G. Wells, The Time Machine

  3. This is a great program, but I wonder if the constant approbation undermines its objectives. I also wonder if it’s ever possible to identify an appropriate counterfactual to properly evaluate whether sending high school students to respond to car crashes at 3am on school nights does in fact set them up for better life outcomes than joining the lacrosse team. It’s true that Post 53 alumni are largely very successful. But this is true of Darien High School grads in general. I’d expect that the program’s founding goal of discouraging drug use is in fact extremely successful. I’m not sure that the other grand claims about problem solving and responsibility though are in fact provably better than sports for instilling those values.

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