Senator John Warner
Washington, DC 20250
Dear Senator Warner:
A recent series of newspaper articles, including the Washington
Post, ""Data Show Assaults on Peace Corps Workers Up," Associated
Press, October 26, 2003,
have highlighted the danger Peace Corps volunteers (PCVs) face
abroad. Adding insult to injury, many injured PCVs often do not get
adequate medical care upon their return to the United States. This
is because injured returned PCVs must sue the Federal Government
(the Office of Workman Compensation) to get reimbursed for medical
As a former PCV myself, I think it only right that injured PCVs
receive the automatic medical coverage that military veterans
receive upon their return to the United States. I would like to
request that the law be changed to allow returned PCVs to receive
medical treatment at the Veterans Administration (VA). There are
now about 6,000 PCVs abroad annually, so the number possibly seeking
medical treatment is likely not great, and therefore would not
substantially increase VA's cost of operation of covering over 20
In this regard, Senators Coleman (Minnesota) and Dodd (Connecticut),
himself a RPCV, have focused on this problem of Peace Corps
volunteer safety and medical treatment in the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee. I am writing directly to Senator Dodd, but as
your constituent, I request your support to improve medical
treatment for PCVs who return to the United States with injuries.
As chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, you are in a
unique position to support these efforts.
John G. Reeder
Senator Chris Dodd
Washington, DC 20250
Dear Senator Dodd:
I write you in your capacity as the ranking Democrat on the Senator
Foreign Relations Committee, and ask for your support to improve
medical coverage for returned Peace Corps volunteers who sustain
injuries or other medical problems during their foreign service. I
know that your service as PCV has provided you with unique
understanding of the Peace Corps. I also was PCV for 3 ½ years, and
understand the needs of injured volunteers who need medical
attention upon their return.
A recent series of newspaper articles, including one in the
Washington Post, ""Data Show Assaults on Peace Corps Workers Up,"
Associated Press, October 26, 2003,
highlight the danger Peace Corps volunteers (PCVs) face abroad.
Related to this, upon their return, ill or injured PCVs often
cannot get adequate medical care for injuries occurring because
injured returned PCVs must sue the Federal Government (the Office of
Workman Compensation) to get reimbursed for medical expenses.
A friend of mine was a PCV in Ecuador and injured there, and needed
surgery in to the United States for which that the Peace Corps has
refused to pay. Another friend told me recently the story of
volunteer in Seattle, Washington who had to be medically evacuated
for treatment for what ultimately turned out to be cancer, and for
which the Peace Corps will not pay.
I would like to propose that RPCVs be eligible to receive medical
treatment for injuries sustained abroad from the Veterans
Administration, similar to that provided to veterans. There are
now about 6,000 volunteers serving abroad, so it is likely that the
number possibly seeking such treatment would be small, and not
significantly add to VA's cost of operations for the over 20 million
veterans eligible for such service.
I know that you and Senator Coleman have taken an interest in
improving the safety of PCVs serving our country, and hope that you
will take into consideration that injured volunteers often receive
inadequate medical treatment once they return. I have written my
own Senator John Warner, the chairman of the Armed Services
Committee, urging his support of such an idea of allowing injured
PCVs to avail themselves of VA medical treatment.
Thank you for your attention,
Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Brazil
I have emailed John Reeder and asked him to join our group. I hope
that he does. I would love to know what response he got to his
letters. I'd also love to see the Washington Post article that he
referred to, and possibly even contact its writer.