Advocacy

  • Rachel Mannino posted an article
    Thank 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!

     

    Amanda Silva

    Amy Morros

    Andrea Kruse

    Becky Errera

    David  A. Miron

    Deborah Johnston

    Jonathan Pearson

    Katelyn Haas

    Kristina J. Owens

    Linda Goetzinger

    Maricarmen Smith-Martinez

    Meredith Martin

    Sam Ryals

    Samreen Singh

    Tyler Lloyd from My PC Story

    Maine Peace Corps Association - #GivingTuesday outreach coordinated by Nicole Lewis and Valerie Young

     

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    Help us bring 200 advocates to Capitol Hill see more

    For the past fourteen years, National Peace Corps Association's contribution to Peace Corps Week has been devoted to raising the collective voice of our community to urge Congress to support measures aimed at strengthening and improving the Peace Corps. Over those years, that day has served as a launch point leading to tens of millions of additional dollars to support Peace Corps programming, and legislation enhancing Peace Corps health, safety and recognition.

    Now, as we prepare for the 15th annual Capitol Hill Day of Action, you can make plans to join in!

    We will be on Capitol Hill on Thursday, February 28, 2019. On this day we will urge strong funding for the Peace Corps, explain why Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) who come home with service-related illnesses or injuries need further support, and promote other forms of recognition for Peace Corps service.

    Will you be one of the Peace Corps voices on Capitol Hill February 28th?

    Register for NPCA's Capitol Hill National Day of Action right now...right here

     

     

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    Donna Shalala will join John Garamendi and Joe Kennedy III in the House of Representatives see more

    A national election of many firsts included this: among the more than 100 women who will serve within the new House of Representatives next January will be the first female Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) to serve in Congress.

    In Miami, Iran RPCV Donna Shalala secured just under 52% of the vote to win the open seat in Florida’s 27th district. Shalala will join fellow RPCVs John Garamendi (Ethiopia) and Joseph Kennedy III (Dominican Republic) in the new, 116th Congress. Garamendi, representing California’s 3rd district, captured 57% of the vote to win his sixth term in Congress. Kennedy, who ran unopposed in Massachusetts’ 4th district, was re-elected Tuesday to his fourth term in office.

    Three other RPCVs running for Congress were defeated in their efforts to unseat incumbents. In Ohio, 4th district Micronesia RPCV Janet Garrett and 15th district Morocco RPCV Rick Neal lost in races against incumbents Jim Jordan and Steve Stivers. Meanwhile in Utah, Moldova RPCV Shireen Ghorbani was defeated in her effort to unseat incumbent Congressman Chris Stewart.

    Wolf Re-Elected

    Tuesday night also saw the return of Tom Wolf to the Pennsylvania Governor’s residence. The India RPCV was re-elected to a second term, winning nearly 58% of the vote.

    Numerous other RPCVs ran for state and local office on Tuesday. Among those who were victorious were Panama RPCV Shenna Bellows, who was re-elected to the Maine State Senate. Just to the west in New Hampshire, Jamaica RPCV Matt Towne won an open seat in the state legislature.

    Several RPCV lawmakers won election to state legislatures while running unopposed. They included newcomer Jon Santiago (Dominican Republic) in Massachusetts and incumbents Arthur Orr (Nepal) in Alabama and Jeni Arndt (Mozambique) in Colorado. Also in Colorado, Fort Collins State Senator John Kefalas (El Salvador) left his position and won election to serve as a Larimer County Commissioner.

    Get Ready to Work

    As we prepare our Peace Corps policy agenda for the next Congress, we will need your involvement as we also prepare for our 15th annual National Days of Action, starting on February 28th. Contact us today at advocacy@peacecorpsconnect.org so we can start planning for your participation!

     

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    Now it's your turn - Send your Peace Corps funding letter to the president! see more

    When the Peace Corps community comes together we have a collective, powerful voice! That is certainly the case with our amazing, energetic affiliate groups.

    As the Trump administration prepares the fiscal year 2020 budget it will present to Congress next February, the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) sent this letter signed by representatives of 109 affiliate groups requesting a “modest but meaningful funding increase” for the agency.

    This annual letter serves as our initial volley in the federal appropriations process and it could not happen without people like Gregory Jones, President of the Friends of Nigeria (FON), who has regularly signed the letter on behalf of the 1,700 FON members. "It is a privilege to endorse this appeal for funding for the Peace Corps organized by the NPCA. FON represents a group of volunteers who served in a country that has not had Peace Corps volunteers since 1972, so for most of us the experience was 50 or more years ago.  It still ranks as a highlight in our lives, and we are eager to urge the President and Congress to make that experience available to a full cadre of current volunteers."

    That sentiment was echoed by Gloria Levin, President of Amigos de Bolivia y Peru. "We urge the support for all three of Peace Corps' founding three goals, viewing all three as interactive and critical to assure that Peace Corps' magic will endure. Returned Peace Corps Volunteers' organizations provide us the platform for our collective voices to be be heard by decision makers regarding the size of Peace Corps' budget and allocations among priorities." 

    Funding for the Peace Corps has been steady – from a dollar value – at $410 million for the past four years. But citing the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that letter contends when adjusted for inflation, Peace Corps should be at more than $430 million today. “Because of this decline in purchasing power, the agency faces a difficult choice of reducing the number of volunteer opportunities or reducing important, staffing, training or services that support volunteers in the field.”

    "No matter who may be in office, it is of extreme importance to remind Congress just how far US tax dollars go by funding the Peace Corps", said Jessica Szalawiga, President of the Kansas City Area Peace Corps Association. "We understand the impact that a collective call to action can have. The Peace Corps experience leads to continued service to our country through serving our individual communities."

     

    Your Turn – Write to the President!

    Our affiliate groups have taken action. Now it is your turn! During the past two years, President Trump has proposed consecutive funding cuts to the Peace Corps – something no president has done in nearly 35 years, since the days of President Reagan, when his nominee to direct the Peace Corps – Loret Miller Ruppe – is widely credited with saving the Peace Corps!

    Follow this link to send your message to the president.

    Then, follow this link to help us ensure a strong and vibrant Peace Corps moving forward.

     

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    Bill named after former RPCV Congressman and PCV who died in service passes unanimously see more

    Monday evening, the United States Senate - on a unanimous voice vote - gave final congressional approval to legislation aimed at further reforming Peace Corps health and safety legislation.

    The legislation now heads to President Trump for his signature.

    Back in July, the House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 2259, "The Sam Farr, Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act," bringing together various components of earlier bills put forward in the House by Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX) and Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA), and in the Senate by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

    "The congressional champions of H.R. 2259 worked with steadfast commitment to pass this legislation", said Glenn Blumhorst, President and CEO of the National Peace Corps Association. "We are grateful for their bi-partisan and bi-cameral efforts to make sure the important provisions in this bill are on their way to the president for his signature."

    Read this press release from Senator Corker, following last night's Senate vote.

    Read this press release from Congressman Poe.

    Follow this link to read the final version of the legislation.

    "Passage of this legislation was not easy and did not come about without significant compromise and some disappointment," said Blumhorst. "However, the end product provides a number of critical reforms that will increase transparency for applicants seeking Peace Corps assignments, strengthen the qualifications of overseas health care personnel, and continue to ensure attention and support for Peace Corps survivors of sexual assault or other forms of violence."

    "We are grateful to the NPCA affiliate Health Justice for Peace Corps Volunteers (HJPCV) for their tireless, longstanding advocacy to advance health improvements for the Peace Corps community. We are equally grateful to Sue and Dave Castle, whose Peace Corps son Nick gave the ultimate sacrifice, for converting their deep despair into determined advocacy to make sure future volunteers don't succumb to failures in the delivery of timely health care to volunteers. These leaders were backed up by several thousand Peace Corps community members who called, wrote or visited their lawmakers to urge passage of this bill."

    In Senator Corker's press release, Sue and Dave Castle said they hope this legislation will make changes to in-service health care so other families won't face a similar fate. "Nick wanted to make a difference in this world, but he didn't have time to do that. We hope with the passing of this legislation that he can make a true lasting impact on the Peace Corps.”

    Leaders of HJPCV issued the following  statement: "Representative Poe and his team drafted a terrific initial piece of legislation to assist those of us that come back from our service to our country sick or injured. Granted, it was a baby step in rectifying our access to adequate care, but we are grateful for the opportunity to share our stories and struggles on the Hill. After lobbying for nearly a year and a half, the Senate passed a watered down version of the original legislation that Poe and his team had spent years on. While the final legislation still lacks key provisions including an increase in the disability wage level that Representative Poe regretted was not included, we’re so thankful to him and his team for bringing our issues to light and for hearing and believing us. The fight isn’t over, but today we celebrate the small victory that is HR 2259, and hope the president will sign it into law." 

     

     

     

     

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    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."

    BILL BACKGROUND

    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.

     

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    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.”

     

    Follow these links to read the summaries of the State/Foreign Operations bills approved by the Senate and House Appropriations Committees.

     

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    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

    Colorado: Bennet

    Connecticut: Blumenthal, Murphy

    Delaware: Carper, Coons

    Florida: Nelson

    Georgia: Isakson (co-author)

    Hawaii: Hirono, Schatz

    Illinois: Duckworth

    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

    Ohio: Brown

    Oregon: Merkley, Wyden

    Rhode Island: Reed, Whitehouse

    Vermont: Sanders

    Virginia: Kaine

    Washington: Cantwell

    West Virginia: Manchin

    Wisconsin: Baldwin

     

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    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.”

    Take Action

    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.

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    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.

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    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."

     

    House Legislation

    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.

     

    Taking Action

    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.

    Senate and House safety/health legislation will be part of NPCA's National Days of Action in March, which will kick off on March 1 with the Capitol Hill Day of Action.

    Join us. Take action now! Urge your lawmakers to co-sponsor this important Peace Corps legislation.

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    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!

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    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.

     

    House Legislation

    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.

     

    Forward Motion

    "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."

     

    Take Action

    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 article
    Advocacy Update, Week of December 25, 2017—RPCVs Needed On Capitol Hill see more

    Budget Update

    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! 

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    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 advocacy@peacecorpsconnect.org and make plans to organize a Day of Action solidarity event in your hometown on/about March 1st!