The opinion-page article ``Political Leadership Without Military Service,'' Dec. 30, describes the sense of shared sacrifice that exists among veterans and calls for reflection on the decreasing percentage of national leaders with such experience. My experience as an Army lieutenant, particularly in the Gulf war, brought me in close touch with many Americans that I never knew growing up in suburbia. Returning to the civilian world, I was struck by a lack of commitment to the local community and a feeling of insulation from the problems of other sectors of society.
I hope national service programs such as the Clinton administration's effort can replace World War II and the draft as sources of social interaction and respect for sacrifice for the public good. Opportunities for young Americans to explore new surroundings at home and abroad are needed. Working in one's own community is even better if it follows service to a community that offers a different perspective. Darrell Stanaford, Monterey, Calif.
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