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Bush Asks for Volunteers - 2002-01-31

President Bush says more Americans should volunteer in their communities to strengthen homeland security in the war against terrorism. The president traveled to the states of Florida and Georgia Thursday to follow-up on his State of the Union call for more volunteers.

The president is promoting greater national service as a way for more Americans to contribute to the anti-terrorism effort. He told senior citizens in Florida that military force overseas should be matched by an army of compassion at home.

"The best way to fight evil is with acts of kindness," he said. "The best way to fight evil is for people to love their neighbor. People say, "Well, I want to be part of the war on terror." OK. Go love a child. Find somebody who needs help."

The president's State of the Union address called on all Americans to spend two years or 4,000 hours over the rest of the lives as community volunteers. Mr. Bush launched a new program called the USA Freedom Corps which will spend more than $500-million expanding existing projects and getting more volunteers to help out with homeland security.

The president wants to double the size of the Peace Corps over the next five years to almost 15,000 volunteers with many of those additional members set to work on development programs in Islamic countries. He also wants to get another 100,000 older Americans involved in the Senior Corps program where retired volunteers conduct safety patrols and respond to natural disasters in support of emergency service workers.

"Americans are asking how you can help, here's another way to help to serve your nation by being part of an emergency response team," he said. "There are retired doctors and retired nurses that can help hospitals, retired policeman and fireman who can help fire. People who want to help, here's a good way to help."

The president asked high school students in the state of Georgia to consider careers in teaching as he said you don't have to wear a uniform to fight terrorism. Mr. Bush said there is no better way to leave a positive mark on the life of America than teaching.

For those students who will join the armed forces after graduation, the president said they will have everything they need to defend the country.

"If you choose to go into the military, I want to thank you and let you know that your government will stand squarely behind you," he said. "Whatever it takes to win the war on terror, we will pay it."

The president is asking Congress for the largest increase in defense spending in 20 years along with 38 billion dollars for homeland security to hire another 300 F-B-I agents and tens of thousands of new airport security workers while providing more training and equipment for state and local firefighters, police and emergency workers.