More about Peace Corps - Military connection
- Fellow Cirpca members,
The following is more about the law that Evan Bayh and John McCaine
authored connecting military recruiting with Peace Corps. I am
sending this because I feel that as returned volunteers we should be
informed. I do not think that as an organization we should get into
politics because obviously not everyone in our organization would
share the same views and it political activism is not a part of our
mission as an organization. However I think we should be informed of
policies that affect Peace Corps and members can take action
individually. I have already sent a message to Evan Bayh and I
encourage others to do the same if they feel as strongly as I do
that this legislation is not in keeping with the goals of Peace
Here is more information on this issue. (This was sent to me from
John Coyne who is a RPCV and one of the people responsible for Peace
In case you haven't been privy to recent news of a "new" law
military and Peace Corps service, I'm forwarding you some
should be of interest to every peace (and Peace Corps) loving
individual in our
nation. Unfortunately a few years ago a law was passed (unbeknownst
otherwise action would've/should've been taken prior) to promote a
recruitment and service campaign. Although the law has been on the
books for a
few years, the new recruitment campaign is just now being launched
military. The new law allows for new recruits to opt for different
complete their military service, once their active duty and reserve
committments have been completed. These options include AmeriCorps
Corps. While it is commendable that alternate options for service
considered, in the case of Peace Corps it is dangerous for the
for Peace Corps Volunteers.
When Peace Corps was created in 1961, the Peace Corps Act very
outlined the organization's independent nature in relation to other
agencies. This independence has been recognized and supported
subsequent administrations over its 44 year history, and periodic
sent from the Secretary of State to embassies all over the world to
the independent nature of Peace Corps. It is essentially this
allows Peace Corps Volunteers to enjoy the successes in the
communities where they serve. Were the Peace Corps just another
under the umbrella the Embassies or USAID or another government
Corps Volunteers (PCVs) couldn't enjoy the freedoms and safety net
independence provides. By not being aligned with other diplomatic or
or strategic interests, PCVs go about their work promoting community
development and peace and cross-cultural understanding (the three
Peace Corps), empassioned by their altruistic desires to make a
be force of positive change in our world.
Through out the history of the Peace Corps, these lines are often
to people not understanding the true nature of the Peace Corps, and
lumping all Americans into one political agenda basket. This
has been the cause of Peace Corps country departures, and it is
still exists today (unfortunately) in our world with access to so
information and but so much mistrust about Americans. A recent
were protests in Bangladesh (see below article). For this reason,
independent nature of Peace Corps must be maintained. It is a
integrity, philosophy and the safety and security of all currently
While many former military servicemen and women have served in the
it has only been after they've fully completed their military
are not on active duty status. The independent nature of Peace Corps
maintained. As a former Volunteer, obviously this issue is very
heart. I implore all of you to take a few minutes to educate
issue, and send a letter to your state representatives so that this
changed to NOT include the Peace Corps as a viable option for
For more detailed information, including example letters that you
your local papers and state representatives (more eloquantly written
your's truly), see the National Peace Corps Association's advocacy
A fact sheet: http://www.rpcvorg/pages/sitepage.cfm?id=1172
Taking action: http://www.rpcvorg/pages/sitepage.cfm?id=1235
For additional information you can also see the peacecorpsonline
is an independent site for people interested in topics related to
Here you'll find links to similar articles as on the NPCA website,
transcripts of Chris Matthew's Hardball interview from last week.
Just because the military is having difficulty recruiting folks, it
mean it has to destroy the Peace Corps in the process. The Peace
of our nation's finest programs that promotes peace, friendship and
understanding across cultures, and does more for diplomacy and
people give it credit for. President Kennedy's dream can't die now.
(RPCV Honduras 94-96)
P.S. Article on Bangladesh follows, and the article from Washington
has sparked the fire....
Leftists in Bangladesh rally against US Peace Corps
Saturday, July 30, 2005
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) - Students rallied Saturday at a university
protest against the presence of the U.S. Peace Corps in Bangladesh,
them of attempting to influence the country's national policies.
About one hundred left-leaning activists of the Bangladesh Student
marched across Dhaka University, chanting "Peace Corps...Peace
Leave Bangladesh", and "Down with Imperialism."
"America is trying to influence our national policies through its
agencies, including Peace Corps," the group's general secretary
told the rally. "This group (Peace Corps) must leave Bangladesh, it
There are currently 68 volunteers involved in English-language
support for women and health programs for rural poor in Bangladesh,
Muslim-majority nation of 140 million people, Peace Corps director
Vasquez recently told reporters during a visit to Dhaka.
He said another 60 volunteers will arrive in Bangladesh later this
of the group's expansion plan.
"I am encouraged (by the) great hospitality and friendship of
people toward our volunteers," Vasquez said.
On expansion plan, the protesters on Saturday criticized the
allowing the U.S. volunteers to work in Bangladesh.
"They work just to help sustain their imperialism, we don't need
soil," Alam told the rally. "If America needs to brighten its
face before the world, it should change its foreign policy. Sending
is not a solution."
Peace Corps Option for Military Recruits Sparks Concerns
By Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 2, 2005; A11
The U.S. military, struggling to fill its voluntary ranks, is
recruits to meet part of their military obligations by serving in
Corps, which has resisted any ties to the Defense Department or U.S.
intelligence agencies since its founding in 1961.
The recruitment program has sparked debate and rising opposition
and former Peace Corps officials. Some welcome it as a way to expand
of idealistic volunteers created by President John F. Kennedy. But
could lead to suspicions abroad that the Peace Corps, which has
in 73 countries, is working together with the U.S. armed forces.
"Does this raise red flags for the Peace Corps community? I'd say
emphatically so," said Kevin Quigley, president of the National
Association, an organization of returned volunteers, staff and
think a real or perceived linkage between the Peace Corps and
could damage the Peace Corps and potentially put the safety of Peace
volunteers at risk."
Congress authorized the recruitment program three years ago in
drew little attention at the time but is stirring controversy now,
reasons: The military has begun to promote it, and the day is
when the first batch of about 4,300 recruits will be eligible to
Peace Corps, after having spent 3 1/2 years in the armed forces.
happen as early as 2007.
Two longtime proponents of national service programs, Sens. John
(R-Ariz.) and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), devised the legislation "to
with more opportunities to serve their country," said Bayh's
Meghan Keck. When it stalled as a separate bill, aides to the
they folded it into a 306-page defense budget bill, where it did not
Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez, who was appointed in 2002 by
Bush, said in a recent interview that the Peace Corps was unaware of
provision until after it became law. Vasquez declined to say
have opposed the legislation, had he known about it in time.
"There might have been a discussion, there could have been some
this, but obviously that didn't happen," he said.
Several former Peace Corps leaders said they hope that Congress and
administration will reverse course and scuttle the program. They
senator Harris Wofford (D-Pa.), who helped found the Peace Corps as
aide in the Kennedy White House; Carol Bellamy, the former New York
Council president who headed the Peace Corps from 1993 to 1995; and
Schneider, who was a volunteer in El Salvador in the late 1960s and
Peace Corps during the last two years of the Clinton administration.
"Democratic and Republican administrations alike have kept a bright
separating the Peace Corps from short-term foreign and security
Schneider said. "Blurring that sharp line is a bad idea,
given the unfortunate rise in anti-American sentiment following the
After the law went into effect in 2003, the Defense Department was
promote the option of combining military and Peace Corps service,
it is now
energetically flogging the "National Call to Service" program,
The Army, which began a pilot project in 10 of its 41 recruiting
October 2003, expanded it into a nationwide effort this year. The
Navy and Marines offer identical programs, said Lt. Col. Ellen
In all of the services, recruits are eligible for a $5,000 cash
repayment of $18,000 in student loans if they agree to spend three
boot camp, 15 months on active duty and two years in the Reserves or
After that, they can fulfill the remainder of their eight-year
obligation in the Individual Ready Reserves -- available for call-
without regular drilling duties -- or by serving in the Peace Corps
Americorps, the domestic national service program created in 1993.
Vasquez emphasized that recruits have no guarantee that they will be
into the Peace Corps. Once they complete their active duty and
National Guard service, they can apply to the Corps. But they will
any preferential treatment, and the Peace Corps is not changing its
standards, he said.
"Ultimately, the impact to Peace Corps in terms of how we recruit,
accept into service, remains very much intact and consistent with
done for 40-plus years," the Peace Corps director said. "I am an
embraces a very important facet of Peace Corps, and that is the
independence as an agency within the executive branch."
Wofford, who worked in the White House with Sargent Shriver, the
brother-in-law who became the Peace Corps' first director, said the
historically has shown "passionate determination" to maintain that
independence. At the outset in 1961, Shriver appealed to Kennedy to
Peace Corps from being placed under the Agency for International
Later, the Corps fought to uphold rules barring intelligence
joining the Peace Corps and prohibiting former Peace Corps
working for U.S. intelligence agencies.
Several current Peace Corps volunteers said they opposed the
recruitment option but were reluctant to speak out publicly, because
Corps forbids volunteers from talking to the media without
"We are already accused on a daily basis of being CIA agents so I
this [link to the U.S. military] could help," a volunteer in Burkina
"It is hard enough trying to integrate yourself into a completely
culture, convincing people that . . . Americans are not these
maniacs . . . without having a connection to the U.S. military,"
volunteer in Africa wrote.
Former volunteers expressed a variety of reservations. Pat Reilly, a
chairwoman of the National Peace Corps Association who served in
1972 to 1975 and spent several years as a full-time Peace Corps
she worries about the motivation of people who enter the Peace
a military service obligation.
"The magic that makes the Peace Corps work is motivation, and when
with that, then it won't work for the applicant and it won't work
people it serves," she said.
John Coyne, who served in Ethiopia during the 1960s and was a
in the Corps' New York office from 1996 to 2001, said numerous
veterans have joined the Peace Corps and been superb volunteers.
there has always been a "clear separation" between the two kinds of
The new recruitment program "eats away at the purity of the Peace
designed by Kennedy, which is that it was not going to be
So far, the number of enlistees is tiny compared with the 1.4
women serving in the military, but large compared with the Peace
receives about 12,000 applications to fill about 4,000 openings each
In 2004 and the first five months of this year, 4,301 people entered
services under the National Call to Service program. Of those, 2,935
in the Navy, 614 in the Air Force, 444 in the Army and 308 in the
Pentagon and Peace Corps officials said they have no way of knowing
will apply to the Peace Corps when they become eligible to do so in
In his 2002 State of the Union address, Bush called for doubling the
the Peace Corps, from 7,000 to 14,000 volunteers, within five years.
year, the administration named a career Navy officer with 12 years
experience in military recruiting to head the Peace Corps'
Since then, however, the Corps has grown by little more than 10
Barbara Daly, a spokeswoman for the Corps, said that tight budgets -
than a shortage of qualified candidates -- were the reason.
"The president has been very supportive of the Peace Corps and has
budget increases each fiscal year that would allow for this" gradual
she said. "Congress has not approved our budget at the levels