Respect for Peace Corps Volunteers Act

  • House legislation includes proposals for RPCV evacuees to continue service. see more

    New Peace Corps legislation continues to emerge to help evacuated Volunteers, this time in the House of Representatives. On April 30, Representatives Dean Phillips (D-MN) and Don Young (R-AK) announced the “Utilizing and Supporting Evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers Act,” which addresses several issues to support present and future needs of evacuated Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. The legislation is also supported by Representatives John Garamendi (D-CA), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), and Jennifer Wexton (D-VA).

    In a press release issued by Representative Phillips, National Peace Corps Association President Glenn Blumhorst notes that “At the heart of this legislation are initiatives to engage these volunteers in what they do best — opportunities to continue serving others, both here at home to contain and overcome the pandemic, and overseas as soon as conditions permit Peace Corps to redeploy.”

    ​​​The Phillips-Young legislation would:

    • Extend the opportunity for evacuated RPCVs to continue to purchase health insurance through Peace Corps beyond the current three months.
    • Instruct the Corporation for National and Community Service to expedite opportunities through which evacuated RPCVs can be assigned to programs aimed at combating the COVID-19 pandemic here at home.
    • Expedite opportunities for evacuated RPCVs to return to Peace Corps service once it is practicable for the agency to begin redeploying volunteers overseas.

    In light of the many lives being lost during the pandemic, the legislation also includes language of the no-cost, bi-partisan “Respect for Peace Corps Volunteers Act,” legislation that would allow the Peace Corps logo to be included on grave markers or in death notices.

     

    “At the heart of this legislation are initiatives to engage these volunteers in what they do best — opportunities to continue serving others, both here at home to contain and overcome the pandemic, and overseas as soon as conditions permit Peace Corps to redeploy.”
       — Glenn Blumhorst, President & CEO, National Peace Corps Association

     

    2020 Progress: Efforts to Help Evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers

    National Peace Corps Association has been working with Congress on a variety of Peace Corps initiatives. The announcement of the Phillips-Young House legislation is the latest in a long string of positive steps to support Peace Corps and recent evacuees.

    • Evacuee Unemployment Compensation Confirmed (April 28): The U.S. Labor Department issued guidelines which confirmed evacuated RPCVs are eligible for unemployment under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Act. Read more here.
       
    • National Health Corps Letter (April 21): In a letter to House leadership, Representatives Ami Bera (D-CA), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Bill Foster (D-IL) propose the creation of a National Health Corps to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically referencing evacuated RPCVs as a resource. Read more here.
       
    • Markey Legislation (April 13): Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) announced legislation that seeks to mobilize U.S. citizens — especially evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers — to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.
       
    • Record Senate Funding Letter (April 10): A record 42 Senators signed the annual Peace Corps funding Dear Colleague letter. Led by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the letter requests robust funding for Peace Corps in Fiscal Year 2021, which begins October 1. Read more here.
       
    • Murphy Legislation (April 3): Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) announced legislation to address unemployment and health care benefits for Peace Corps evacuees, expand service opportunities, and promote the return of Peace Corps programs overseas. Read more here.
       
    • Bi-Cameral Letters (April 2): Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Congressman Dean Phillips (D-MN) led joint Senate/House letters on the need for evacuees to have jobless protections and the need for evacuees to have opportunities to utilize their skills to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.
       
    • Peace Corps Stimulus (March 27): Congress passed and President Trump signed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package to respond to the pandemic. Included in that package was $88 million to cover the evacuation of 7,300 volunteers and provide initial readjustment support for the evacuees. Read more here.
       
    • House Peace Corps Funding Letter (March 13): A bi-partisan group of 167 lawmakers signed a House Peace Corps funding letter requesting $450 million for Peace Corps in fiscal year 2021. The letter was issued by leaders of the Peace Corps Caucus RPCVs John Garamendi (D-CA) and Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA), and Representative Garrett Graves (R-LA). Read more here.
       
    • Capitol Hill Advocacy Day (March 5): More than 200 members of the Peace Corps community conducted more than 220 meetings on Capitol Hill during NPCA’s 16th annual National Days of Action in Support of the Peace Corps. We were joined by 35 Peace Corps Volunteers from China, evacuated five weeks earlier, to speak to the importance of their work. See photo album here.
       
    • Former Directors Support Independence (January 7): NPCA issued a letter authored and signed by ten former Peace Corps directors opposing Senate legislation to place Peace Corps under the authority of the State Department. Read more here.

     


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    Story Updated 01 May 2020 11 a.m.

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    Mobilize others to sign this petition to Congress see more

    We share a letter from members of the Peace Corps community urging support for the Respect for Peace Corps Volunteers Act. Take action after you read it!
     

    Dear Members and Friends of the Peace Corps Community,

    We write to you as Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and/or former staff who served in the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s.

    As many from our generation of service are growing older, we imagine many share our view that we would like to be able to have our Peace Corps service recognized by allowing the placement of the official Peace Corps seal or emblem at gravesites and in death notices.

    Unfortunately, the use of the seal or emblem for this purpose is not specified as an allowed use under the Peace Corps Act. Because of this, it is illegal to use the Peace Corps symbol for this purpose.

    Thankfully, a bill in the House of Representatives – H.R. 1411 – has been introduced in Congress to make a simple fix – change the Peace Corps Act so the seal or emblem can be used at gravesites and in death notices.*

    The bill has not yet passed – not necessarily because of opposition, but more likely because of limited attention given to it.

    We are working with National Peace Corps Association to pass this bill. But we need your help.

    Please follow this link so you can sign a petition to Congress, offer a comment and help us pass this simple, sensible legislation to honor Peace Corps service.

    Thank you for your Peace Corps service and your consideration of this request.

    Sincerely,

    Robert C. Terry, Staff, East Pakistan/Bangladesh (1961-63)
    Judith H. Whitney-Terry, Honduras (1987-88)

    Orleans, MA

     

    Jack Wilson, Liberia (1962-64); Staff, Sierra Leone (1966-68); Director, Fiji (1970-72)
    Angene H. Wilson, Liberia (1962-64)

    Lexington, KY

     

    Will Irwin, Afghanistan (1966-67)
    Frances Hopkins Irwin, Afghanistan (1964-67)

    Bethesda, MD

     

    * Work is underway to have a similar bill introduced in the United States Senate

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    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  jonathan@peacecorpsconnect.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!)