Volunteer Health, Safety, & Security
- Support the Peace Corps Equity Act: The National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) continues to urge Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) to sign a Statement of Support for the Peace Corps Equity Act (S.813), that would bring a technical fix to a current situation in which female Peace Corps Volunteers are the only individuals serving our nation overseas who are denied support should they choose to terminate a pregnancy in the narrow instances of rape, incest or life endangerment.
- Implementation of the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act: On July 31, 2013, the group First Response Action published this Report Card, assessing the Peace Corps’ progress with implementation of the Kate Puzey Act. Peace Corps provided this letter from Acting Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet (which was published in the Fall 2013 edition of WorldView magazine) and this response, as well as a copy of their Health Progress Fact Sheet.
- Other Health Services: In this summary, the Peace Corps outlines some other steps taken to improve health services for current volunteers or Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. This includes steps taken to improve services seeking compensation through the U.S. Labor Department.
- Inspector General (OIG) Report on Medical Inventories Within Countries: This August, 2013 report examined nine Peace Corps posts abroad on medical supply processes and accountability. The OIG put forth 24 recommendations and status updates designed to strengthen internal controls and correct other deficiencies. Read more.
The Peace Corps
If you have experienced sexual assault or safety and security issues during your Peace Corps service, here are some resources from the Agency:
- Peace Corps Counseling and Outreach Unit (202-692-1470). This is a good starting point for anyone with questions about a situation with a current or returned Peace Corps volunteer.
- As noted on the Peace Corps website, Peace Corps works in some of the least developed countries and in some of the most remote areas in the world, therefore, health, safety, and security risks are an unavoidable part of life and of Volunteer service. Peace Corps has gathered the key points about Volunteer safety and security on the following website pages: Safety and Security in Depth for Family and Friends and What About Safety?
- In order to learn more its policies, Peace Corps has produced Frequently Asked Questions on Safety and Volunteer Support.
- Each year the Peace Corps Office of Safety and Security issues an Annual Volunteer Safety Report. The latest report is for 2011, dated November 2012.
- Although the Peace Corps is not authorized by law to provide medical care or counseling to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, all Volunteers who leave Peace Corps service after having been the victims of sexual assault are eligible for counseling under the Federal Employees Compensation Action (FECA), the workman’s compensation program for federal employees, under which Peace Corps Volunteers are covered. Peace Corps offers three counseling sessions following sexual assault to serve as a bridge for Volunteers until they can arrange counseling under FECA, with the cost paid by the Peace Corps, not the Volunteer. FECA is administered by the Department of Labor. Full information on FECA can be found here on the Peace Corps website.
- Peace Corps Victim Advocate Kellie Greene. Kellie supports Peace Corps volunteers who have been the victims of crime.
First Response Action
South Africa RPCV Casey Frazee’s story and request for change was first published in the Winter 2009 issue of the National Peace Corps Association’s (NPCA) WorldView magazine. A follow-up blog post interview with Casey was published in September 2010. (FRA mentions NPCA’s catalyzing early support on its blog here and here.)
The ad hoc group she formed, First Response Action (FRA), “advocates for a stronger Peace Corps response for Volunteers who are survivors or victims of physical and sexual violence.” The group envisions “a Peace Corps with policies that reflect best practices in all areas of training, prevention and response.”
If you are interested in sharing your story, or would like further information, please contact Casey at firstname.lastname@example.org. All inquiries will be considered confidential.
Health Justice for Peace Corps Volunteers
The mission of this group is to “ensure that Peace Corps Volunteers who become sick and injured due to their overseas service obtain the support and benefits to which they are legally entitled.” The group seeks increased medical and disability support from both the Peace Corps and the U.S. Labor Department. More than 7,500 individuals took part in a 2012 survey to share their experiences and suggestions on how to address these issues.
Follow this link to get connected or for further information.
Peace Corps Office of Inspector General
The purpose of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) is to prevent and detect fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement; and to promote effectiveness and efficiency in government. This includes investigating and reporting on issues pertaining to Peace Corps Volunteer health, safety and security. The OIG is an independent entity within the Peace Corps. Read more.
NPCA’s Online Community
Members of the National Peace Corps Association’s online community can freely create interest area groups. Two such groups are Volunteer Safety & Security and Injured While Serving, where RPCVs can discuss “everything from FECA claims to coping strategies.”
Follow this link for more background and archival information pertaining to these issues.