Mission and Strategy
Mission: To ensure that Peace Corps Volunteers, sick or injured by their service overseas, obtain the support and benefits to which they are entitled by law. We do this through individual support and advocacy and proposing and encouraging policy change. We offer an opportunity for people
to connect with others going through difficult times who might otherwise feel frustrated or even ashamed.
Strategy: With a spirit of compassion and commitment, we work for health reform for current and former volunteers through-
- Representing the interests of volunteers to the Peace Corps and the US Department of Labor
- Publicizing the challenges facing Peace Corps Volunteers by creating relationships within the National Peace Corps Association, members of the media, and other service agencies
- Constructive conversations with Congressional leaders and their staffs
- Support for one another through emails and dialogs
- Monitoring the performance of the Peace Corps Medical system through surveys
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 handling when it was founded in 1962. Far too many have fallen through the cracks. Some have struggled for years to obtain healthcare or disability benefits. Others have lost careers, and been left destitute and uninsurable. Many have given up.
Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports (1991, 2012) indicate that approximately 10-30% of all volunteers develop some sort of health issue and our 2013 survey of nearly 8,000 volunteers supports that evidence. Given that approximately 215,000 have served as of January 2014, 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)