As the Peace Corps community prepares for our 3rd annual Health Justice Awareness Day on June 22nd, here are eight reasons why you should join us on Capitol Hill or make plans to take action to advance Peace Corps health legislation in the House of Representatives (HR 2259, A.K.A. The Sam Farr Peace Corps Enhancement Act).
1. The Right Thing to Do
Peace Corps Volunteers served our country with honor and distinction, putting their health and well-being at risk. For those who came home with service-related illness and injuries, we need to help them get the care and support they deserve.
2. Strengthened Care at Posts
From codifying health standards at Peace Corps posts, to further addressing malaria prophylaxis standards, to further monitoring and evaluating volunteer satisfaction, The Peace Corps Enhancement Act seeks to further strengthen care in the field.
3. Continuity of Care
The Peace Corps Enhancement Act proposes to expand Peace Corps involvement in post-service diagnosis and treatment for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) with service-related health issues for up to six months.
4. Fairer Compensation
For disabled RPCVs whose health needs are most severe, the legislation would raise the woefully inadequate worker's compensation level that some in our community struggle to survive on.
5. Sexual Assault
A Sexual Assault Advisory Council - established as part of the 2012 Kate Puzey Act, would be extended through 2023 to provide ongoing review and guidance in supporting Peace Corps sexual assault survivors.
6. Agency Involvement
This bi-partisan legislation has been prepared with significant input from the Peace Corps. Most of the key provisions have been supported by Peace Corps leadership.
7. Tracking the Numbers
A new addition to this legislation - recommending further surveys of RPCVs on how their service-related health needs are being met - can help identify further health care challenges and improvements.
8. If Not Us, Who?
When it comes to wounded members of our military, there are literally thousands of organizations established to address and support their needs. This is not the case with Peace Corps Volunteers, RPCVs and their family members who often struggle in silence. If we don't stand up for them, who will?
While health legislation will not address every need of every current/returned volunteer dealing with service related issues, passage can address many key issues, provide many improvements, and continue to chart a pathway forward. If you want to improve heath care for current and returned volunteers, visit National Health Justice Awareness Day or click the button below: