Improve Post-Service Health Care

 

 

For far too long, too many Returned Peace Corps Volunteers have faced significant health challenges stemming from their service, and have felt forgotten and alone in their personal battle to get better. We want to work to change this. We can change this. But all of us – the Peace Corps, NPCA, RPCV affliate groups, and individuals – have a role to play. Some changes will require legislative action. Some changes will require internal Peace Corps agency reforms. Some changes will involve individual and collective action of NPCA and the broad Peace Corps community.

 

(Photo: Nancy Tongue, founder of Health Justice for Peace Corps Volunteers, was on Capitol Hill in

December 2015 to urge Congress to advance Peace Corps health legislation)

 

Legislation: Legislation has been introduced! H.R. 6037, The Sam Farr Peace Corps Enhancement Act, was introduced by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) in September, 2016. 

Please act now and urge your lawmakers in the House to co-sponsor this important legislation.

Learn more about H.R. 6037.

Background: During the March 2015 National Day of Action, Capitol Hill advocates put forth two key issues aimed at improving health support and services for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers dealing with injuries or illnesses caused or exacerbated during service. One key issue (recommended by the group Health Justice for Peace Corps Volunteers) concerns the low pay rate disabled RPCVs currently receive through the worker’s compensation program. At 2/3 of the federal government’s GS-7 pay scale, disabled single RPCVs are provided less than $25,000 annually on which to live. There appears to be wide agreement that this level is insufficient and needs to be upgraded. Another recommendation - supported by the Peace Corps - would provide the agency with authority to be more engaged in RPCV health needs for a six month period following service. This would allow more efficient continuity of care during the difficult period of readjustment following service.

Response from Peace Corps: In 2015, the Peace Corps Director convened an internal Post-Service Healthcare Task Force "to identify and address issues and concerns that RPCVs have that are related to health care resulting from their Peace Corps service." On November 30, 2015, the Task Force issued this report with a series of action items designed to "strengthen support and outreach to RPCVs". The agency has also provided this document outlining progress to address health care needs. 

 

NPCA Action: In 2015, the group Health Justice for Peace Corps Volunteers (HJPCV) became an official affiliate group of NPCA. Their work has included this document outlining key concerns requiring action.  As HJPCV continues its work, it is in need of individuals who can make the commitment to the group by volunteering to assist with group efforts. Key areas include website management and social media outreach, database management and response to individual needs, and research. If you can help HJPCV in its quest to improve the health for those who served our nation as Peace Corps Volunteers, contact the group at healthjusticepeacecorpsvols@gmail.com.

In 2016, along with Capitol Hill advocacy, NPCA is pursuing three primary actions to mobilize and strengthen community response to address health challenges faced by RPCVs. One involves piloting state or regional "Health Support Networks" - primarily within our affiliate group structure - to better address the localized, individual needs of those within our community in need of assistance. We are also launching a Benevolent Fund, designed to provide modest, short-term assistance to RPCVs facing service-related health or other challenges. Finally, the end of June marked our second annual Health Awareness Day, to bring more attention within and beyond the Peace Corps community that many who served our country face ongoing health challenges which deserve our attention and support.

 

NPCA recognized Health Justice Awareness Day on June 23, 2016.

For far too long, too many members of the Peace Corps community have faced significant health challenges stemming from their service, and have felt forgotten and alone in their personal battle to get better.

We want to work to change this. We can change this. But all of us – the Peace Corps, National Peace Corps Association, RPCV affliate groups and individuals – have a role to play.

The purpose of Health Justice Awareness Day is to further identify and raise the profile of members of the Peace Corps community who face medical challenges, build a nationwide support network, and begin the long and difficult process of addressing the many health-related issues before us.