(House of Representatives - April 10, 2018)

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[Page H3065]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Louisiana (Mr. Abraham) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. ABRAHAM. Madam Speaker, I rise today to highlight the Louisiana 
National Guard Youth Challenge Program, a wonderful program that is 
changing young people's lives and making Louisiana a better place.
  Youth Challenge accepts high-risk students 16 to 18 years of age, and 
offers them the education, training, and emotional support they need to 
finish their high school equivalency requirements, and gives them the 
life skills that they need to be productive adults.
  These students face challenges completing their education in 
traditional classroom settings. Some come from troubled homes, some are 
victims of severe bullying, some have their own discipline and anger 
issues, some have fallen so far behind in the coursework that they feel 
they cannot finish, and some have already dropped out of high school. 
Youth Challenge offers them the second chance that they need to get 
back on the path to success.
  The Youth Challenge Program lasts 17 months, 5 months of which are at 
residential sites. We have three camps in Louisiana: Camp Minden near 
Shreveport, Camp Beauregard in central Louisiana, and the Gillis Long 
Center near Baton Rouge.
  While there, students learn from the structure and discipline offered 
by the military. They drill early in the morning and pursue coursework 
and job training in the afternoon. They also learn life skills and hear 
from motivational speakers and anti-substance abuse experts.
  I recently had the privilege of speaking at a graduation ceremony in 
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and there are fewer things that are more 
inspiring than seeing the faces of these young people who have worked 
hard to turn their lives around and successfully complete the program.
  Youth Challenge students also give back to the community. They 
complete at least 40 hours of community service that usually is focused 
on helping veterans, working with children, and volunteering with 
Special Olympics.
  While Youth Challenge Programs exist in States across the Nation, 
none has been more successful than in Louisiana. According to the 
Louisiana National Guard, more than 1,400 students graduate per year, 
which is more than any other State, and 83 percent of these pass the 
GED, which is the highest rate in the Nation.
  After completing the program, graduates can continue their education, 
join the military, or get full-time employment. Many businesses in 
Louisiana recognize the value of these hardworking students and 
actively seek to employ them.
  The Youth Challenge Program relies largely on Federal support, and it 
is an endeavor we in Congress should all support.
  Youth Challenge is also asking Congress to consider pilot programs 
aimed specifically at job training and apprenticeship programs. As a 
member of the House Armed Services Committee, I look forward to 
discussing this request with my colleagues as we consider the fiscal 
year 2019 Defense Appropriations bill.
  In conclusion, I want to thank the Louisiana National Guard 
instructors who give so much of themselves to this program and make it 
a wonderful success. It is because of their dedication that these 
students do have a second chance to succeed and become thriving, 
productive adult members of our society.
  Madam Speaker, I look forward to seeing where the future of this 
program goes and the lives it has yet to change.