Jonathan Pearson posted an articleThe 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.
Meisha Robinson posted an articleNPCA continues to stand by RPCVs that were victims of sexual assault during their service. see more
National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) continues to stand by Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) that were victims of sexual assault during their service. We also recognize the efforts Peace Corps has made to better support victims of sexual assault. Legislation introduced by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) will also further address the challenges that victims face in country and upon their return home.
NPCA strongly supports both pieces of legislation and encourages you to join us. Throughout the month of March, during our National Days of Action, we are meeting with lawmakers at the district level and on March 1st, during our Capitol Hill Day of Action, we are meeting with members of Congress in Washington, D.C. to champion these critical pieces of legislation.
Rep. Poe’s legislation, the Sam Farr Peace Corps Enhancement Act, would reauthorize important components of Peace Corps safety and security law, including an Office of Victim Advocacy to support Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) who are subjected to violence, and a sexual assault advisory council made up of experts in the field and charged with assisting and assessing agency efforts to reduce risk and improve the response to victims of sexual assault. Similarly, Sen. Corker’s bill, the Nick Castle Reform Act of 2018, proposes further reforms aimed at addressing specific concerns highlighted in the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) report.
It is important to note that both the Senate and House legislation also tackle two other adjacent areas of reform that demand attention and concern. Both bills call on Peace Corps to employ the highest standards possible for overseas medical personnel and ensure that overseas posts have adequate medical staffing. Rep. Poe’s bill also seeks to address the critical need to improve the post-service health care needs for returning volunteers coming home with service-related illness or injury.
We applaud and appreciate the progress that has been made as Congress and the agency have worked to improve the health, safety and security for survivors of violence and sexual assault. At the same time, much more needs to be done. Your voice is needed to ensure that PCVs and RPCVs get the health and safety support they deserve.
- View Peace Corps' response to CBS News report on sexual assault
- Register to attend the March 1st Capitol Hill Day of Action
- Attend a National Days of Action event near you
- Organize a National Days of Action event in your state