Sending Office: Honorable Ted Poe
Support “The Sam Farr Peace Corps Enhancement Act”
When Nick Castle, a smart, energetic 23-year-old Peace Corps Volunteer teaching in rural China, fell violently ill in January 2013, his Peace Corps Medical Officer failed to recognize the severity of his symptoms. It was not until Nick was found unresponsive
that he was taken to the hospital, but it was too late. A 2014 Peace Corps Inspector General report found that Nick was the victim of medical negligence, uncovered that the Peace Corps Medical Officer tried to cover up her poor treatment of Nick, and exposed
“cascading failures and delays in treatment” that ultimately led to Nick’s death.
In recent years, Peace Corps has made many good-faith efforts to reform its operations, improve its efficiency, and increase support for Volunteers in the field. However, more remains to be done to improve health care for both currently serving and returned
volunteers, and some of these problems require legislative fixes. For example, due to restrictions in current law, Peace Corps cannot comply with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding how it administers anti-malaria
medication to volunteers. In addition, since Congress mandated a number of reforms in 2011 related to how the Peace Corps provides care for Volunteers who are sexually assaulted, the Peace Corps, with the help of an Advisory Council made up of experts in the
sexual assault field, has made great strides in establishing a comprehensive sexual assault policy. However, there is still work to be done to ensure the policy is implemented at its posts throughout the world and that volunteers have the care and attention
that they need.
Returned Volunteers who have medical conditions related to their Peace Corps service have also had problems getting the medical treatment that they need. These returned Volunteers, with few exceptions, have to go through the Department of Labor to get treatment.
Unfortunately, that process is heavily bureaucratic, riddled with delays, and provides limited coverage. Volunteers struggle to get everything from simple prescriptions to serious surgeries approved.
H.R. 2259, the Sam Farr Peace Corps Enhancement Act, works to improve the health care of all current and returned Peace Corps volunteers. It requires current volunteers to have access to adequate health services and improves the quality of Peace Corps Medical
Officers. It changes current law so the Peace Corps can comply with CDC recommendations. It gives the Sexual Assault Advisory Council a new mandate: to evaluate implementation of Peace Corps’ sexual assault policy. Finally, it allows Peace Corps itself to
provide medical care to returned volunteers with service-related conditions for up to 6 months and longer if DOL has not approved a returned Volunteer’s application for treatment.
Peace Corps Volunteers represent what is best about America. They give years of their lives to help others whom they have never met, building goodwill across the globe for the United States. It is our responsibility to ensure they are properly cared for
both in the field and when they return home. We urge you to support H.R. 2259 and support some of the best ambassadors this country has. If you would like to cosponsor the bill or have any questions, please contact Oren Adaki at
Oren.Adaki@mail.house.gov in Rep. Ted Poe’s office or Alex Garlick at
email@example.com in Rep. Joseph Kennedy’s office.
TED POE JOSEPH KENNEDY
Member of Congress Member of Congress
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0