The Problem

Peace Corps Volunteers answer their country’s call to service, often facing harsh or difficult conditions in foreign countries. Many return with unusual, hard to treat, life-altering diseases, injuries and traumas that the Peace Corps did not anticipate when it was founded in 1961. Far too many have fallen through the cracks. Some have struggled for years to obtain healthcare or disability benefits. Others have lost careers and have been left destitute and uninsurable. Many have given up.

Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports (19912012) indicate that approximately 10-30% of all volunteers develop health issues resulting from service. Our 2013 survey of nearly 8,000 volunteers supports this evidence. Given that approximately 225,000 have served as of January 2017, these numbers are significant. Health Justice and its predecessor organizations have personally served hundreds of volunteers. We need congressional support and/or policy change to ensure that sick and injured volunteers get prompt and enduring medical care, both in the field and upon their return, for as long as needed and to be ensured adequate disability income when necessary.

 

What was it about the Peace Corps? About Ethiopia,
That has meant so much in our lives? 
The answer is, I believe, that once a long time ago,
when we were young and believed we could make a difference, 
we flew to the Horn of Africa and touched this world firsthand,
touched it where it burns,
and we have never healed.

John Coyne (RPCV Ethiopia 1962-64)