WASHINGTON, D.C.- Today, Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) and Congressman Joseph Kennedy, III (D-MA) released the following statements after the House Committee on Foreign Affairs passed H.R. 2259, the Sam Farr and Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act, sending a message to all current and former Peace Corps Volunteers that America stands with them. H.R. 2259 provides much-needed protections for Peace Corps volunteers throughout every stage of their service: the onboarding process, while they are deployed abroad, and when they return home.
“Far too often, our volunteers are injured, sexually assaulted, or contract severe diseases while serving overseas,” said Congressman Poe. “This legislation will ensure that our angels abroad have access to qualified medical professionals (in-country) and extends protections for survivors of sexual assault. It also ensures that ill and/or injured volunteers do not have to spend months dealing with federal bureaucratic red tape just to receive the care they need and deserve.
These young men and women sacrifice years of their lives to help people they never even met – they are the face of our country in places where America’s shining beacon of hope and liberty may not always shine so bright. Their service to our country should not turn into a nightmare that ruins or even ends their lives. It’s time we take a stand and take action for our volunteers who are some of the very best we have – and that is exactly what the Sam Farr and Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act does.”
“In every corner of our globe, Peace Corps Volunteers serve in unfamiliar communities to help change lives and share the best of American values,” said Congressman Kennedy. “With the bipartisan passage of this bill in the Foreign Affairs Committee, we are one step closer to protecting our Volunteers currently serving around the world and ensuring the Peace Corps’ influence reaches new heights. I thank Congressman Poe for his advocacy and leadership on behalf of our legislation and look forward to bringing it to the House Floor for a vote.”
More specifically, the Sam Farr and Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act builds upon the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act by:
- Requiring Peace Corps to provide prospective volunteers with critical information prior to deployment, including country-specific crime statistics and health risks.
- Requiring Peace Corps to provide volunteers with access to qualified medical doctors.
- Strengthening existing provisions ensuring volunteer protection from sexual assault and harassment, including extending the authority of the Sexual Assault Advisory Council.
- Enhancing access to health care for returned Peace Corps volunteers by granting them immediate access to the care they need and deserve.
- Providing further reforms to improve oversight, management and efficiency of the Peace Corps.