Rachel Mannino posted an articleThank you to our #GivingTuesday Champions! see more
After the madness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday (November 28th) is a time to give back. The Peace Corps community needs your help this #GivingTuesday, so we can continue to support our members all year long!
In this challenging political environment, the Peace Corps community has to push incredibly hard to galvanize support for the Peace Corps in Congress. It was tough this year, when the White House and the House budget both cut Peace Corps funding by $12 million. However, thanks to the hard work of our community advocates, the Senate voted to level fund the agency. We’re still fighting for that level $410 million budget. Donations made during #GivingTuesday will help fund our advocacy efforts in 2018. We will continue building our network of volunteer advocacy coordinators across the country, and provide better technology to help our members reach out to Congressional leadership. We will also implement another day of action on the Hill.
NPCA #GivingTuesday Champions have committed to enlisting 10 people to donate $10 or more on #GivingTuesday and to sharing their Peace Corps stories to increase awareness and raise support. You can help, too. Here’s how:
- Sign up to be a #GivingTuesday Champion by emailing Rachel@peacecorpsconnect.org.
- Donate to the advocacy fund, and tell others about why you gave your contribution.
- Share our #GivingTuesday social media posts on your profiles, along with your own Peace Corps story, and ask your friends and family for donations.
Thank you for all you do to support NPCA. We need your passion for our advocacy work now more than ever!
Thank you #GivingTuesday Champions!
David A. Miron
Kristina J. Owens
Tyler Lloyd from My PC Story
Maine Peace Corps Association - #GivingTuesday outreach coordinated by Nicole Lewis and Valerie Young
Legislation heads back to Senate for further consideration. see more
With praise for the mission of the Peace Corps and the work of its volunteers, and acknowledgement that more needs to be done to improve volunteer health care, safety and security, the House of Representatives unanimously passed Peace Corps health/safety legislation (H.R. 2259) late Tuesday afternoon.
The revised House bill, renamed the "Sam Farr and Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act of 2018", now goes back to the United States Senate for further consideration. Earlier this year, Senators unanimously passed its version of the legislation (S. 2286) introduced by Bob Corker (R-TN) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). The Senate can either approve the House version of the legislation and send it on to the president, or negotiate with the House on a final compromise bill, in order to address several issues where differences remain.
A CRUCIAL STEP
Speaking on the House floor, the sponsor of H.R. 2259, Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) noted that he, like many members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC), try to meet with volunteers when traveling overseas. "One thing is universally true," he said. "They love being a Peace Corps Volunteer." Congressman Poe added that over the years when he has met volunteers who share stories of when the agency or other parts of the federal bureaucracy let them down and bad things happen, those volunteers would make clear and still speak of their love for the Peace Corps.
But Poe also emphasized more needs to be done to assist volunteers - who he often refers to as "America's Angels Abroad." During his floor remarks, the congressman reflected on the experiences and ongoing challenges of RPCVs Jennifer Mamola and Sara Thompson, who along with founder Nancy Tongue are leaders of the affiliate group Health Justice for Peace Corps Volunteers, which has led efforts for years to bring attention to the needs of returning volunteers who come home injured or sick. He also reflected on the death of China volunteer Nick Castle, who fell ill and did not get adequate medical attention (Nick's parents Sue and Dave have also been leading advocates in advancing the legislation). In noting he has heard too many stories of volunteers struggling to get needed care, Poe emphasized that "Our government should work to help the Peace Corps Volunteers."
Similar sentiments were expressed on the other side of the aisle. RPCV Congressman Joe Kennedy (D-MA), the lead co-sponsor of H.R. 2259, spoke of the friendship he received from people who did not know him nearly fifteen years ago as he began his Peace Corps service in the Dominican Republic, while also recognizing the "extraordinary generosity of spirit" volunteers bring to countries around the world. The Ranking member of the HFAC, Eliot Engle (D-NY) said volunteers "show our values, generosity and compassion" to the world, adding that "we must do what we can to keep our current volunteers safe."
Both bills will strengthen the criteria in Peace Corps' selection of overseas medical staff, re-authorize important provisions of the 2011 Kate Puzey Act which established an Office of Victim Advocacy and Sexual Assault Advisory Council, advance additional reporting - and more transparency - on the experiences of serving and returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), and extend existing health care coverage for service related injuries to four months for RPCVs. Read this press release from Congressman Poe.
NPCA supports final passage of the House version of the bill, which in several instances has stronger, more impactful language to protect and support those volunteers who are applying for and serving with the Peace Corps.
In securing unanimous passage in both chambers, key provisions to further address the health needs of RPCVs who come home with service related health issues were removed from the legislation, due to cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office and/or jurisdictional issues with other legislative committees.
TAKE ACTION NOW:
With only a few months of legislative business remaining in the current session of Congress, it is important that you let lawmakers know the time has come for final passage of these bills.
Follow this link and write to your members of Congress, urging final passage of Peace Corps health/safety legislation and adoption of the House version of the bill, while also noting more work needs to be done in the future to address the needs of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who come home with service related illnesses or injuries.
Peace Corps funding is currently on track for level funding in the next fiscal year. see more
At the beginning this week, NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst (far right, with Missouri delegation meeting Senator Roy Blunt) led a Capitol Hill delegation to support stable funding for our nation’s international affairs programs during a “State Leaders Summit” organized by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition.
By week’s end, Congress moved to make sure that happen – with Peace Corps funding also in the mix for stable funding.
In a concerted effort to complete its work before the October 1st start of the 2019 fiscal year (FY 2019), the Senate and House Appropriations Committees both gave approval to respective appropriations bills that have strong similarities.
In approving its State/Foreign Operations proposal, the House Appropriations Committee is recommending level funding of $54 billion for FY 2019. The proposal of the Senate Appropriations Committee was slightly larger, proposing a one percent increase to $54.4 billion. These recommendations are in sharp contrast to the Trump administration’s proposal to cut this funding by nearly thirty percent.
The pathway for the Peace Corps is similar. While the Trump administration proposed a $14 million cut to the agency for FY 2019, the Senate Appropriations Committee is recommending level funding of $410 million. The House Appropriations Committee approved a recommendation with a very slight increase in funding – to $410.5 million.
As the committee recommendations head next to the full Senate and House, NPCA President Blumhorst congratulated all Peace Corps community members who took action over the past months.
“For every member of our community who over the past four months has made a phone call, sent an email, wrote a post card, participated in a district office meeting or came to Washington, we thank you. It is vitally important that our elected representatives hear from constituents who believe in the power of the Peace Corps and the importance of our diplomatic, international development and humanitarian assistance programs. Your individual actions add up, and they protect Peace Corps and other programs so many in our community care about. This achievement belongs to you.”
216 members of Congress signed Peace Corps funding letters in 2018. A new record high. see more
Led by Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the annual Peace Corps funding Dear Colleague letter secured the signatures of 36 Senators!
When coupled with the 180 signatures on a similar letter in the House of Representatives, the combined 216 members of Congress who signed Peace Corps funding letters in 2018 represents a new record high!
As noted in the Senate letter, which requests robust funding for the Peace Corps in the upcoming 2019 fiscal year, "The Peace Corps' return on investment is profound. Host country nationals served by a volunteer are better equipped to meet challenges in the long run, helping to achieve healthier, more stable communities and prevent conflict. The Peace Corps is often one of the most transformative experiences in a volunteer's life, and Returned Peace Corps Volunteers continue their call to service by becoming leaders in their communities."
Read the final Senate letter here!
Our thanks to the thousands of Peace Corps supporters, who reached out to their members of Congress in support of these critical funding letters. We would not be successful without your support!
Say Thank You!
Thirty-six Senators (below) signed the Peace Corps funding letter and should be thanked!
California: Feinstein (co-author), Harris
Connecticut: Blumenthal, Murphy
Delaware: Carper, Coons
Georgia: Isakson (co-author)
Hawaii: Hirono, Schatz
Maine: Collins, King
Maryland: Cardin, Van Hollen
Massachusetts: Markey, Warren
Michigan: Peters, Stabenow
Minnesota: Klobuchar, Smith
New Hampshire: Hassan, Shaheen
New Jersey: Menendez
New Mexico: Heinrich
Oregon: Merkley, Wyden
Rhode Island: Reed, Whitehouse
West Virginia: Manchin
NPCA Affiliate group urges diplomacy, not conflict, with Iran see more
With the appointment of John Bolton to be National Security Advisor, this week’s confirmation hearing of Mike Pompeo to be the next Secretary of State, and a May 12th deadline approaching on President Trump’s decision to uphold or withdraw from a multi-lateral nuclear agreement, U.S. relations with Iran will be regularly in the news over the next several weeks.
Because of that, it comes as no surprise the Peace Corps Iran Association (PCIA) – an NPCA affiliate group – is urging Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and others to urge diplomacy over conflict.
As part of a resolution supporting the nuclear agreement that members agreed to at a conference last October 31st, PCIA noted they “strongly support diplomacy as the primary means for the United States and the international community to resolve issues of mutual interest with Iran and to prevent further military conflict in the region.”
As the Pompeo hearings and other actions that are concerning to PCIA approach, PCIA urges all like-minded members of the Peace Corps community - and others - to take a five minute action with their Senators urging diplomacy with Iran.
Follow this link and take action.
For more information, you are encouraged to visit the PCIA website.
Unanimous Senate approval of legislation comes as House continues its work see more
Peace Corps health and safety legislation took another step closer to becoming law on Tuesday.
The Senate unanimously passed S. 2286, the Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act of 2018.
Castle, a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in China, died in service in 2013. A 2014 Peace Corps Inspector General report found that a misdiagnosis of early symptoms and “cascading failures and delays in treatment” contributed to his death.
“Nick exemplified the extraordinary commitment of Peace Corps volunteers who devote 2-3 years in service to our country,” said Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), the sponsor of the legislation. “They deserve the very best support we can provide. Our bill will expand oversight and accountability at the Peace Corps while improving the care our volunteers receive overseas and for service-related injuries when they return home. Following unanimous passage of this legislation in the Senate, I am encouraged by continued progress in our efforts to strengthen the Peace Corps and honor Nick Castle’s memory.”
In the House of Representatives, similar legislation introduced by Congressmen Ted Poe (R-TX) and Joe Kennedy (D-MA) has 54 co-sponsors and awaits further action by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The House bill - H.R. 2259 - contains very similar provisions related to in-service health care and continued/expanded support and reforms pertaining to sexual assault. H.R. 2259 also contains additional support for returned volunteers with service related health issues, including a proposed increase in worker’s compensation payments for RPCVs who come home with the most serious health challenges.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passes Nick Castle Reform Act see more
On the five-year anniversary of the death of Nick Castle, a Peace Corps Volunteer who served in China, legislation named in his memory took a step closer to passage in the United States Senate.
Yesterday, the Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act of 2017 (S. 2286) was approved unanimously by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The legislation outlines key parameters to ensure the agency hires well-qualified personnel capable of administering effective health care services for volunteers, and calls upon the agency to complete all open recommendations from a 2016 Inspector General Assessment on medical care. The legislation also includes provisions that extend key elements of volunteer safety legislation (passed in 2011) to address sexual assault and other acts of violence against volunteers, and proposes further reforms to address matters related to sexual assault. Additionally, the legislation extends existing health care coverage for service-related injuries four months after volunteers complete their service, and requires public disclosure of volunteer satisfaction surveys and early termination rates.
"I am always inspired by young people, like Nick Castle, who dedicate themselves to making a difference early in life," said Bob Corker (R-TN), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee in a press release following the vote. "Nick exemplified the extraordinary commitment of Peace Corps volunteers who devote 2 - 3 years in service to our country. They deserve the very best support we can provide...As this bill advances to the full Senate, I am encouraged by the strong bipartisan support for our efforts to strengthen the Peace Corps and honor Nick Castle's memory."
Similar Peace Corps health and safety legislation is also in the House of Representatives. Introduced by Congressmen Ted Poe (R-TX) and Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA), the Sam Farr Peace Corps Enhancement Act (H.R. 2259), contains many provisions similar to the Senate legislation, as well as additional provisions related to volunteers returning home with service related illness or injuries. Earlier this week, Congressmen John Yarmuth (D-KY), Joe Courtney (D-CT) and Sean Maloney (D-NY) became the latest co-sponsors of H.R. 2259, bringing the total number of co-sponsors to 52.
NPCA is supporting both versions of this legislation, urging the Senate and House to pass their bills and come together to approve the strongest final bill possible.
Join us. Take action now! Urge your lawmakers to co-sponsor this important Peace Corps legislation.
It's not just Capitol Hill - We're organizing 75 solidarity events around the country! see more
In Pittsburgh, Katie Haas Conrad (Sierra Leone 2010-12) says "We have to work to continue to educate our legislators of the importance of the (Peace Corps) or we will not be able to send professionals to interested countries." That's why for the second year in a row, Katie is spearheading a letter writing event with the Pittsburgh Area Peace Corps Association in March as part of NPCA's National Days of Action.
Nearly 1,000 miles due west in Nebraska, Andrea Kruse (Bulgaria 2008-10) is making plans to organize a district meeting with the Lincoln office of Senator Ben Sasse. "Years ago I was asked if I wanted to join a district meeting with some fellow Minnesota RPCVs and said yes...From that meeting, I was told by a staffer to keep coming even if the congresswoman was a Peace Corps champion, because power in numbers and the personal stories have the impact."
Not everyone can come to Capitol Hill to be an advocates on key Peace Corps issues. BUT, everyone can take a moment in March to participate in National Days of Action solidarity events being planned around the country.
Along with Pittsburgh and Lincoln, we are hearing of plans starting to emerge all around! Buffalo, New York and Portland, Maine, northern New Mexico and Hawaii!
Ready to commit to organizing an event in your area? Fill out the form linked below so we can start working with you and promoting your efforts! https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc7h6nyJ73bvrfG9oh6HMCpowXyPC7kX1zgaBUosB2yBb-_BQ/viewform
Look for updates in the near future and help us secure at least one Days of Action event in every state!
Both chambers of Congress now have Peace Corps health legislation see more
On the day in which fallen Peace Corps volunteer Nick Castle would have celebrated his 28th birthday, legislation has been introduced in the United States Senate to address a series of issues related to the health and safety of Volunteers.
The Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act of 2018 (S. 2286) was introduced Wednesday, January 10th by Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Other lead sponsors include Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Chris Coons (D-DE).
Nick Castle died while serving in China in 2013. A November 2014 report on the death by the Peace Corps Office of Inspector General cited poor judgement and misdiagnosis by the Peace Corps Medical Officer, as well as "cascading failures and delays in treatment."
About the Legislation
Provisions in the Corker legislation would ensure that "the Peace Corps maintains well-qualified and capable medical officers and support staff for overseas Peace Corps posts and that the Director reviews and evaluates the performance of such staff and implements outstanding recommendations by the Inspector General to improve associated systems and programs."
Another key provision would allow Peace Corps to be fully involved in the diagnosis, treatment and support of returning Volunteers with service related illness or injuries for a four-month period following their completion of service. Currently, volunteers who come home with service-related health issues are swiftly referred to the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) for benefits provided under the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA).
Along with requiring public disclosure of volunteer satisfaction surveys and other reporting requirements, the legislation would also promote further reforms and extend key initiatives pertaining to sexual assault and other acts of violence against volunteers. This includes a re-authorization of the Peace Corps Office of Victim Advocacy and the agency's Sexual Assault Advisory Council.
Click here for a copy of the legislation.
Click here for Senator Corker's press release.
Meanwhile, Peace Corps health legislation in the House of Representatives (H.R. 2259) introduced last May by Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) and returned Peace Corps Volunteer Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA) has a bi-partisan list of nearly 50 co-sponsors.
Along with the most provisions outlined above, the House legislation also includes an important proposal for volunteers who served their country but came home with service-related injuries or illness that rendered them temporarily or permanently disabled. The legislation proposes raising the worker's compensation payments for these individuals. This has been a priority issue of the affiliate group Health Justice for Peace Corps Volunteers, which has led efforts and worked tirelessly for years on efforts to provide relief for those in our community who struggle most in the aftermath of their service. However, questions have arisen about the ability to sustain this provision in accordance with House rules on entitlement spending.
"While the content and presentation of the Senate and House Peace Corps health bills have significant differences, we are grateful that Senator Corker, Congressman Poe and other lead sponsors have introduced legislation to keep us moving forward," said NPCA President and CEO Glenn Blumhorst. "Taken together, both bills contain improvements, reforms and re-authorizations that are important to various members of our community. We look forward to continued progress with Senate and House sponsors, and urge them to work collaboratively so we can come away with the best possible legislation to support our Volunteers and respect their sacrifices in serving our country."
Call your Senators and ask them to support and advance S. 2286, Peace Corps health legislation introduced by Senator Corker.
If your Congressman/woman has not yet co-sponsored H.R. 2259, take action here.
JM Ascienzo posted an articleAdvocacy Update, Week of December 25, 2017—RPCVs Needed On Capitol Hill see more
Congress finished a busy week on Capitol Hill before the Holiday break by passing the third Continuing Resolution (CR) of the fiscal year, funding the government at FY17 levels until January 19. Following negotiations that changed by the hour throughout the week Congress at last passed a "clean" CR, scraping a House bill that funded the Pentagon through September 30 but the rest of the government through just January 19, and leaving out an $81-billion hurricane and wildfire relief package for after the holidays. The new CR gives the White House and Congressional leadership until January 19 to agree to a new budget deal to amend the Budget Control Act of 2011 by raising spending caps, paving the way for appropriators on Capitol Hill to fund the government at higher levels. Like all Federal agencies, Peace Corps is most likely to receive an increase in funding with a lift in caps, and even more likely if that lift has parity.
Democrats have long stated that parity—or a dollar-to-dollar match—for increases in Defense and Non-Defense Discretionary spending is a priority for a new budget deal. Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY-17), ranking members of both the full Appropriations Committee and the State Foreign-Ops subcommittee—the latter funds Peace Corps and its partners—have recently made their case for why budget parity is urgently needed to help America's international affairs programs. Rep. Lowey co-authored her plea with Budget Committee Ranking Member John Yarmuth (D-KY-03). Though dollar-to-dollar parity may not be in a new deal, rumored increased spending levels should provide appropriators with enough funds to at least keep America's development and diplomacy programs at FY17 levels, and perhaps more. Speaking publicly at a recent U.S. Global Leadership Council event, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), chairman of the State-Foreign Ops Appropriations Subcommittee, said, "When this is all over, we’re gonna have more money for foreign assistance, not less.”
Bring Your Voice to Washington, DC—NPCA Capitol Hill Day of Action Registration Open
A new budget deal would potentially have significant short and long-term implications for Peace Corps by providing Congress the opportunity to tap into an agency poised for improvement and growth and that is urgently needed to share the best of America with the rest of the world. The Peace Corps community will be needed to urge Congress to make the right decision.
In the coming weeks stay tuned to NPCA updates and your local Advocacy Coordinators to take quick action with your lawmakers, and register now for NPCA's annual Capitol Hill Day of Action on March 1, 2018. March 1 is your chance to join Peace Corps' Congressional champions, host country embassy representatives, and the Peace Corps community to urge lawmakers to increase Peace Corps funding and pass major RPCV healthcare legislation. Check out a past Capitol Hill Day of Action and Sign up now!
It's time to start mobilizing for this annual Capitol Hill gathering of the Peace Corps community! see more
The power of the Peace Corps lies within you.
- The individual Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) with a story to tell about how Peace Corps transformed so many lives - including their own.
- The former Peace Corps staff member who knows the intricacies of operating an agency that has serviced more than 225,000 volunteers.
- The leaders of National Peace Corps Association affiliate groups whose dedication to ongoing service and bringing the world home is central to their mission.
- The Peace Corps applicant who desperately hopes to be part of this iconic symbol of the United States at its best.
For all of you, the time is coming for you to personally tell Congress about the power of the Peace Corps!
During NPCA's National Days of Action in Support of the Peace Corps we're holding our annual Capitol Hill Day of Action on March 1, 2018. With supply and demand for volunteers skyrocketing, communities all over the world in need, people-to-people relationships increasingly critical, and an RPCV healthcare bill in need of passage, we need to tell America's lawmakers to prioritize Peace Corps funding and legislation.
There's no reason to delay. Register here for the Capitol Hill Day of Action!
Please share this message with your Peace Corps friends and other supporters who want to join us on March 1st. Come to lobby for peace and—as many others do—use the rest of your time in our nation's capital to see the sights, connect with friends, or schedule a reunion for your Peace Corps cohort!
Capitol Hill Day of Action kicks off NPCA's annual Shriver Leadership Summit weekend. Interested in attending? Learn more.
Can't join us in Washington? We still need you! Contact us at email@example.com and make plans to organize a Day of Action solidarity event in your hometown on/about March 1st!
The Peace Corps Iran Association shares its view on the Iran Nuclear Agreement see more
Nearly 150 Iran RPCVs attended a conference in Annapolis, Maryland, which featured panel discussions and workshops on topics ranging from advocacy and current events to archiving Peace Corps service materials and promoting person-to-person cultural exchanges.
At this biennial gathering of the Peace Corps Iran Association (PCIA), members generated a resolution supporting the Iran Nuclear Agreement. "We strongly support diplomacy as the primary means for the United States and the international community to resolve issues of mutual interest with Iran and to prevent further military conflict in the region."
The resolution comes as Congress considers the fate of the Iran Nuclear Agreement, more formally referred to as the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was signed by the U.S. and Iran, along with five other nations (China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom). In mid-October, during the quarterly review required by Congress, President Trump announced he was decertifying - but not withdrawing from - the agreement, giving Congress until mid-December to determine if it will fully withdraw from the JCPOA, uphold it, or take another action in an attempt to modify the agreement.
Click here for contact information to call or write your Senators and express your views on the Iran Nuclear Agreement.
- Read the PCIA resolution here
- Learn more about PCIA here
- Read the State Department overview of the JCPOA here
A powerful message kicks off NPCA advocacy on the FY 2019 federal budget see more
Our thanks to the 106 affiliate groups of the National Peace Corps Association who signed a letter to President Trump urging him to increase funding for the Peace Corps as his administration prepares his fiscal year 2019 budget.
The letter, in part, highlights the outstanding contributions affiliate groups continue to make in their communities and around the world. "NPCA affiliate groups are not-for-profit organizations comprised of members of the Peace Corps community - primarily Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs). Over five decades, we have evolved from our efforts to execute the Peace Corps' Third Goal of educating Americans about our countries of service to becoming indispensable civic enterprises and recognized leaders in volunteerism, charity and public - and private - sector problem solving."
"Our annual letter to the president is exemplary of NPCA's vision of a united and vibrant Peace Corps community," said NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst. "In these challenging fiscal times, having more than 100 of our affiliate groups sign a letter calling for increased funding provides an impressive start to our advocacy efforts for fiscal year 2019."
Click here to read the FY 2019 Peace Corps funding letter to the president.
As advocacy for fiscal year 2019 is underway, NPCA continues to monitor and advocate with congressional leaders on the final Peace Corps appropriation for fiscal year 2018. Look for further updates as we seek to reduce or eliminate the President's proposed $12 million cut in Peace Corps funding for the fiscal year that began October 1st.
This simple legislation to honor Peace Corps service can pass - but only if you act! see more
When one thinks of legislation before Congress, thoughts come to mind of hundreds, even thousands of pages of text, quite often confusing to the general public with arcane references to legislative definitions, the United States Code, and subsections.
But that’s not the case with House Bill 1295, legislation that would allow for a simple, no-cost fix to honor Peace Corps service.
Introduced by Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ) and David Young (R-IA), the heart of the legislation is this: “The official seal or emblem and the name ‘Peace Corps’ may be used on any death announcement, gravestone, plaque or other grave marker of any person who served as a volunteer or as an officer or employee of the Peace Corps…”
The original Peace Corps Act – signed into law 56 years ago tomorrow, September 22nd – did not include the iconic Peace Corps logo as an allowable use to honor service at the time of death. The Sires – Young legislation, all 143 words of it, would correct that.
Take Action Now!
This is a piece of legislation every member of the House of Representatives can get behind. But they won't act unless you ask them!
- Follow this link to see if your rep is already a co-sponsor. If s/he is, send them a thank you message!
- If they are not signed on, ask them to become a co-sponsor of H.R. 1295. Call your rep or send an automated message (be sure to edit and personalize your message)
- Reach out to others you know and ask them to take similar action!
Want to get more involved in efforts to pass this legislation? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Photo: After meeting with constituents earlier this month in suburban Chicago, Congressman Peter Roskam agreed to become the next co-sponsor of the Respect for Peace Corps Volunteers Act!)
Come to Capitol Hill for Health Justice Awareness Day - June 22 see more
We are very proud of the hard work and commitment of our NPCA Volunteer Advocacy Coordinators – who are the key conduits between NPCA advocacy staff and our community at large. As we approach our third annual Health Justice Awareness Day, we are featuring Louisiana Advocacy Coordinator Kendra LeSar (Honduras 2007-09), who will be on Capitol Hill on June 22 to advocate for critical Peace Corps health care legislation, something she cares about from both a professional and personal perspective.
Best of Both Worlds
When Kendra graduated from college, she faced a decision that many face. Peace Corps or graduate school? “When I found the Master's International program at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine it seemed like the best of both. I was assigned to work with two government-run health centers in eastern Honduras where I taught reproductive health, HIV prevention, and nutrition classes.”
Kendra’s main assignment ended turned out to be teaching 5th grade sex education at a public elementary school. “I loved it and have worked in school health ever since.”
Making Advocacy Personal
As an experienced advocate who has engaged at both the national and state level, Kendra is coming to Washington because she knows the most effective advocacy goes beyond a phone click.
“I think that participating in our democracy is critical. While emails and phone calls are useful, showing up and speaking to elected officials and their staff can have a huge impact on their consideration of issues.”
And, when it comes to Peace Corps post-service health care, Kendra’s personal experience is like that of many others. “I am coming to share my personal experience as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who is proud to have served my country but who also faced challenges accessing care for service-related injuries when I came home. I hope to speak with elected officials from Louisiana to tell them how important the Peace Corps is and how difficult it can be, under the current system, for volunteers to receive the health care that they need.”
Progress on Multiple Fronts
As the Advocacy Coordinator with the Louisiana Peace Corps Association, Kendra says she is seeing increased interest in advocacy for Peace Corps and many other issues. “Our campaign to contact elected officials in March led to (Congressman) Cedric Richmond signing on to the Peace Corps funding Dear Colleague letter for the first time. It's exciting to see our efforts pay off!”
At the same time, Kendra notes that being an advocate for the Peace Corps goes beyond funding. “Funding is obviously essential to keep the Peace Corps operating, but to truly support the current, future, and returned volunteers we need to advocate for policies to improve the agency. As a public health professional, I think it is critical to ensure that all volunteers have access to the health services they need both while they are serving and when they return home.”
There is still time to join Kendra on Capitol Hill on June 22nd, but you need to register here by our Sunday, June 18th deadline.
And, if you can’t join us on Capitol Hill, set aside time and make plans to take action on June 22nd during our Health Justice Awareness Day.