Carrie Confirmed by Senate as next Director of the Peace Corps at 2:12 pm EST–Congratulations, Carrie!
Senate Votes on Carrie Hessler-Radelet to be Director of the Peace Corps
Carrie Hessler-Radelet is acting Director of the Peace Corps as of July 2013. She was initially appointed deputy director of the Peace Corps on June 23, 2010. She is a returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Western Samoa, 1981-83) with more than two decades of experience in public health focused on HIV/AIDS and maternal and child health.
Since 2010, Hessler-Radelet has spearheaded a comprehensive agency assessment and reform effort, leading the development and implementation of initiatives to improve efficacy and efficiency across the organization-the first such endeavor since its founding in 1961. She has worked with each office to develop individual performance improvement plans and has focused on projects proven to be best development practices. During her time as deputy director, she led the roll-out of the Focus In/Train Up initiative, which provides targeted technical training to Volunteers to increase their capacity-building abilities. In her concurrent role as chief operating officer, she ensured the agency was a vigilant steward of government resources and taxpayer dollars.
Another major initiative Hessler-Radelet has taken on during her tenure is the implementation of new policies and processes to improve the health and safety of Volunteers. In addition to the requirements codified in the 2011 Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act, Hessler-Radelet has overseen the implementation of key policies and programs aimed at reducing the risk of sexual assault and violent crime, as well as improving medical, mental health, legal, and post-service care for victims.
Since her return to the Peace Corps, Hessler-Radelet has been instrumental in instituting the new Office of Global Health and HIV to expand and strengthen the agency’s HIV-education and prevention programs and the Global Health Service Partnership to send physicians and nurses to teach in developing countries. Both initiatives work to meet the medical needs of Peace Corps host countries where the physician-to-population ratio is often woefully inadequate to meet the disease burden. Hessler-Radelet also led an effort to overhaul Volunteer recruiting and engage more Volunteers in post-service public education activities.
Prior to her Senate confirmation as deputy director, Hessler-Radelet was vice president and director of the Washington, D.C., office of John Snow Inc., a global public-health organization, where she oversaw the management of public-health programs in more than 85 countries.
She was actively involved in the establishment of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and was a primary author of PEPFAR’s first strategic plan. Hessler-Radelet was also a Johns Hopkins Fellow with USAID in Indonesia, where she assisted the Indonesian government in developing and implementing its first national AIDS strategy.
Hessler-Radelet served as a board member of the National Peace Corps Association and on the steering committee for the U.S. Coalition for Child Survival. She was founder of the Special Olympics in The Gambia in 1986, which is still active there. All told, Hessler-Radelet has lived and worked in more than 50 countries.
Four generations of Hessler-Radelet’s family have served as Peace Corps Volunteers. Early in her career, Hessler-Radelet served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Western Samoa from 1981-83 with her husband, Steve Radelet. There, she taught high school and helped design a national public awareness campaign on disaster preparedness.
Hessler-Radelet’s aunt was the 10,000th Peace Corps Volunteer and served in Turkey (1964-66), her grandparents served in Malaysia (1972-73), and her nephew recently completed his service as an HIV education Volunteer in Mozambique (2007-09).
Hessler-Radelet holds a master’s degree in health policy and management from the Harvard School of Public Health and a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Boston University. She and her husband have two grown children, Meghan and Sam.
Hessler-Radelet also served as acting Director of the agency from September 2012 to April 2013.
Chis Hedrick (Senegal 1988-90) will be leaving his position as Senegal Peace Corps CD this June. He has been CD in his country of service since 2007. The Peace Corps, however, will still be in the family. His wife, Jennifer Beaston Hedrick (Senegal
1997-99), who has been the COO of Tostan for the past 6 years, is becoming the Peace Corps’ CD in Rwanda. (Tostan is the human rights NGO that has been recognized for its success in reducing female genital cutting and forced early marriage. It was founded by another PCV Molly Melching (Senegal 1976-79).)
Previously Jennifer Hedrick worked at Microsoft, Citigroup and the Grameen Foundation Technology Center. She has her MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management.
For the last 25 years, her husband, Chris Hedrick, has been focused on the intersection of technology, development and learning, and was recently recruited by Kepler to become their CEO. He will be working out of Kigali, Rwanda. Kepler is an organization trying to offer an alternative vision for higher education in Africa. As we all know one of the world’s biggest tragedies is the gap in Africa between human potential and real opportunities to unlock that potential. Capacity development is what Peace Corps is about, and Kepler is trying to address the same issues by creating a new model of higher education. It leverages distance learning (MOOCs) combined with intense in person seminars to try to provide low cost, high quality education where those opportunities are scarce, starting in Rwanda and soon growing to other countries in Africa. To understand more about kepler, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kepler_(institution)or or check out the website at: www.kepler.org.
Before going to Senegal as the Peace Corps CD, Chris was CEO of Intrepid Learning,
a Seattle-based corporate learning services firm that he started. He also served as a science and technology advisor to the Governor of Washington state, and worked for the Gates Foundation and Microsoft. He was a Rhodes Scholar but then realized he could learn more by becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer and went to Senegal.
What he has done in Senegal as the CD is set a high-standard for PCVs and Staff on what can be accomplished via the Internet. Recently he sent me some of the new developments he has started in-country that show what Senegal PCVs are doing today.
To start, when someone is interested in joining the Peace Corps, they need only to go on-line and see what Senegal PCVs are doing. (Or they can go to Ethiopia: http://www.pcethiopia.org/splash) and see what those PCVs are involved with in that nation.)
Here is what Chris has to say about the website and the PCVs in Senegal:
“We have a new look on our website, which you can find here:
It also has pretty strong knowledge retention and sharing aspects, through our integration with Google Drive.
For example, this page links to all of our curricula, so that anyone can benefit from the lesson plans, etc:
Combined with our Facebook page( here: https://www.facebook.com/PeaceCorpsSenegal ), we think it works well to communicate to partners, prospective PCVs, families and the public.
Chris also sent me his 47 seconds of parting wisdom for my colleagues, totally filmed and edited by his 8 year old son. It runs in the family.
Good luck Jen and Chris in Rwanda.
The Peace Corps Community Archive at American University Library is actively seeking the ‘histories’ of RPCVs. The Kennedy Library in Boston has a ‘Peace Corps collection’ from the first years of the agency, i.e., during JFK’s presidency, and there are other collections, including the official records of the Peace Corps at the National Archives in Washington. RPCVs funded one collection of objects in Portland, Oregon, and various libraries have the papers of former students, but American University’s venture is new, impressive, and expanding.
Unlike the Peace Corps agency, which appears to deliberately want to ‘bury its past’ having done little over the years to document the successes and failures of the Peace Corps, RPCVs have taken it upon themselves through their writings, films, photos, and organizations to put together the history of their experiences, and now universities and libraries are becoming aware of the valuable items that RPCV have in their possession.
Here is what American University in Washington, D.C. is seeking for its “Peace Corps Community Archive”
The Peace Corps Community Archive at American University collects, preserves, and makes available materials that were created and acquired by Peace Corps Volunteers. Started in 2013, the archive continues to solicit donations from RPCVs. Materials created and/or acquired by volunteers during their service such as: published books, correspondence, diaries, film, photographs, reports, lesson plans, scrapbooks, and sound recordings can be donated. If you are interested in making a donation, please contact the archive at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at (202) 885-3256. Our archivists will be happy to answer your questions and guide you through the process of making a donation.
Fuller Torrey was the Peace Corps Doctor in Ethiopia -1964-66-and today is a well known psychiatrist and schizophrenia researcher. He is the executive director of the Stanley Medical Research Institute (SMRI) and founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center(TAC), a nonprofit organization whose principal activity is promoting the passage and implementation of outpatient commitment laws and civil commitment laws and standards in individual states that allow mentally ill people to be forcibly committed and medicated easily throughout the United States.
He is well known as an advocate of the idea that severe mental illness is due to biological factors and not social factors. He has received two Commendation Medals by the U.S. Public Health Service and numerous other awards and tributes.
Torrey is on the board of the Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC), which describes itself as being “a national nonprofitadvocacy organization. TAC supports involuntary treatment when deemed appropriate by a judge (at the urging of the person’s psychiatrist and family members). Torrey has written several best-selling books on mental illness, including Surviving Schizophrenia. Fuller is married to Barbara Boyle (Tanzania 1963-65) and continues to be involved in medical projects in Ethiopia.
Fuller was interviewed on Slate today by Brian Palmer on the question, “Did Elliot Rodger’s Therapists fail?
Brian Palmer writes:
When Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, politicians and lobbyistsblamed our broken mental health system. Lanza’s mother had told people that he suffered from Asperger syndrome and sensory processing disorder, but it’s unclear whether he ever received adequate treatment for these or other conditions that may have gone undiagnosed. Would things have been different if a professional had intervened as Lanza withdrew from society and descended into a confused psychological hell?
We now have a tentative answer: No. Last week, Elliot Rodger killed six people in Isla Vista, California. Like Lanza, Rodger was mentally ill. Unlike Lanza, Rodger had extensive contact with both mental health professionals and law enforcement authorities. Rodger’s parents had long been concerned about his erratic behavior. A lawyer for Rodger’s father said Elliot Rodger had been seeing multiple therapists. Santa Barbara police visited his apartment six months before the shooting but found nothing in his demeanor to be concerned about.
Adam Lanza’s story made me sad for everyone involved-including, in a way, Lanza himself, who never got the help he obviously needed. Elliot Rodger’s story makes me feel despair and hopelessness. Rodger met with trained mental health professionals, the people we rely on to identify dangerously disturbed individuals, and they apparently failed to perceive the depth of his problems. Police officers, who spend their days dealing with violent, troubled people, described Rodger as “polite and courteous.”
The Isla Vista shooting calls into question the reasonableness of our expectations. Are we asking parents, teachers, mental health professionals, and police officers to be mind-readers or see into the future? Can even a trained professional reliably distinguish a troubled person from a dangerous person? I posed some of these questions to E. Fuller Torrey, author of American Psychosis: How the Federal Government Destroyed the Mental Illness Treatment System.
Slate: What signs should parents look for that differentiate a child who needs help coping from one who presents a danger to others?
Torrey: As a general rule, young adults who develop erratic behavior do so in response to either substance abuse or early symptoms of psychosis (schizophrenia or bipolar disorder). The most important thing to look for is a marked change in behavior: previously outgoing with lots of friends, now spends most of his/her time in bedroom alone; or a dramatic drop in school grades.
Do therapists receive adequate training to recognize potentially dangerous patients?
“Therapist” usually indicates a psychologist or social worker, although it may also include people with other degrees, including those obtained by mail order. The training of therapists, and their ability to evaluate an individual such as Elliot Rodger, thus varies widely depending on their training. California seems to have more than its share of mail order degree therapists.
What strategies do people use to cover mental illness when confronted by parents, social workers, teachers, and law enforcement? Are there questions authorities should ask to identify a person attempting to conceal mental illness?
Many individuals who are psychiatrically disturbed are able to “hang it together” for a few minutes when confronted by a police officer, judge, etc. I have had very psychotic patients appear quite rational for 10 minutes in a courtroom by focusing their mind. Patients with Parkinson’s disease can similarly suppress their tremor briefly by focusing their mind on it. Thus, it is unrealistic to expect a police officer to make a clinical evaluation, and such evaluations should include a mental health professional.
In Vancouver, at one time, they routinely had a psychiatric nurse go with the police officer to do such evaluations. A psychiatric nurse would be less threatening, could take [the suspect] aside and ask open-ended questions. (For example: “What is the worst thing that has happened to you in the last month?” or “If you did decide to kill yourself, how would you do it?”) The nurse could also, with his permission, use a cellphone to call his mother (or whoever raised the alarm), and/or his therapist at that time to get more information. Mental health professionals are more likely to pick up subtle clues that something is not right. To expect law enforcement officers to do this is unfair to them; they are not trained to do so and this is not why they became a law enforcement officer.
Under what circumstances can a family member, social worker, or law enforcement officer have a person involuntarily committed because they represent a danger to society? With the recent spate of shootings perpetuated by people with known mental illness, do those laws need updating?
Commitment laws vary by state. Details about the law in each state can be found on the website of the Treatment Advocacy Center. A rating of state commitment laws was published in February 2014. California’s commitment law is among the strictest, thus making it very difficult to involuntarily commit an individual like Elliot Rodger for evaluation. State laws need to be improved.
Have we allocated the proper resources to help identify, treat, and potentially confine people whose mental illness makes them dangerous? If not, where do resources need to be directed? Are there enough facilities to treat these people?
The answer is a resounding no. In California, like most states, we have closed 95 percent of public psychiatric beds. Even if a decision had been made to involuntarily commit Mr. Rodger for an evaluation, it would have been extremely difficult to find a bed. The public mental illness treatment system is completely broken. Rep. Tim Murphy in Congress has held hearings on the broken mental illness treatment system for the past year and produced a good bill which could improve it: The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. Every member of Congress should be supporting it.
Texas rancher Jim Hogan has defeated singer and humorist Kinky Friedman to claim the Democratic nomination for Texas agriculture commissioner.
Hogan, of Cleburne, topped Friedman in Tuesday’s runoff after no candidate won more than 50 percent in the three-way March primary.
The agricultural commissioner oversees the school-lunch program in Texas while more broadly handling farming issues.
Friedman ran unsuccessfully as an independent for governor in 2006 and lost the Democratic nomination for agricultural commissioner in 2010.
Hogan made it to the runoff despite minimal campaigning.
Agriculture Commissioner - Democrat
99 % Precincts Reporting
Jim Hogan 103,88354%
Kinky Friedman 89,30546%
You most likely have never heard of Ernesto Butcher unless you were a PCV in South Korea in 1968-70, or you worked for the New York Port Authority in the days of 9/11. I never heard of him until Dick Lipez (Ethiopia 1962-64) alerted me to Ernesto Butcher’s obituary in The New York Times on Saturday, May 24, 2014.
Ernesto Butcher died on May 15 in Maplewood, N.J. He was 69. He apparently had a heart attack while jogging according to his wife, Kristen Peck Butcher.
Most RPCV operate (with some exceptions) in the shadow of fame or notoriety and are content on getting the job done. Perhaps it is a hangover from working in totally obscurity in faraway villages of the world and just being satisfied with what can be accomplished without a lot of fanfare. Ernesto Butcher appears to have been that sort of guy, and it has taken his Obit in the Times to bring all his many accomplishments to notice.
After the Peace Corps, after a graduate degree in international affairs from the University of Pittsburgh, (and fluent in Korean), it would appear that Butcher might turn his attention to the State Department or AID. But no. Ernesto, who, by the way, was born in Panama and raised in Brooklyn, becoming a U.S. citizen one year before joining the Peace Corps, went to work for the Port Authority in New York City.
Early in his career, he was manager of the New York City bus terminal where he rid it of drug addicts and prostitutes by persuading state officials to send him social workers; they helped place most of the bus terminal’s vagrant population in rehabilitation programs and halfway houses. As Butcher said at the time, “We wanted to provide an alternative, not compound the problem.”
Next he went on to becoming chief operating officer of the George Washington Bridge. Here he would introduce E-Z Pass, light rail AirTrains to Kennedy and Newark Airports, and oversee the decade-long stripping and repainting of the George Washington Bridge.
Then came 9/11.
Among the 2,700 people killed that day at the World Trade Center, where the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey had their offices, 84 were agency employees. One of the men was the executive director and Ernesto Butcher’s boss.
Now Butcher, as the most experienced surviving operations officer, was in charge of the Port Authority during these terrible days. For two days he took frantic calls from relatives of 150 authority employees initially reported missing, and then he gave the signal to reopen the system: resuming operations at Kennedy, La Guardia and Newark Airports; the George Washington Bridge; two Hudson River tunnels; the shipping terminals of Brooklyn, Jersey City and Newark, and a dozen other facilities run by his agency.
On September 13, 2001, he announced, “I’m here today to assure the people of New York and New Jersey, and throughout the world, that the Port Authority is open for business.”
Ernesto would spent the days, too, delivering eulogies at 84 funerals and memorial services for authority employees.
He is remembered and widely praised for his work in the post-9/11 Days.
Since 1999 Ernesto worked with dozen of board chairmen, the governors of New York and the governors of New Jersey, but by 2010, he was telling his family that the political appointees in New Jersey Governor’s office were “pushing him out the door.”
So, in April, 2012, he retired, ending a 41-year career at the authority.
The political appointees of Governor Chris Christie-Bill Baroni and David Wildstein,–had begun to exclude Ernesto from meetings. He was being blamed for overruns in the rebuilding of the World Trade Center, and large bridge and tunnel toll increases in 2011, though he had nothing to do with those budgets. “It is unconscionable for a man of Ernesto’s integrity to be forced to end his distinguished career under a cloud,” said Christopher Ward, the authority’s executive director, after hearing of Ernesto’s death.
Baroni and Wildstein, of course, would both resign their appointments in 2013 from the Port Authority over their own involvement in the shutdown of lanes at the George Washington Bridge. Christopher Ward is quoted in the Times article, “Bridgegate would not have happened if Ernesto had still been there.”
Besides his wife, Ernesto is survived by a daughter, Mijha Butcher Godfrey; a granddaughter, and three stepchildren.
Ernesto Butcher is an example of yet another PCV who leaves the Peace Corps and comes home to earn an advance degree, marry and raise a family, and have a exceptional professional career in America.
When will the agency begin to recognize and honor the men and women who made the Peace Corps, and who continue to lead ‘by example,’ with their good work here in America and around the world?
The Peace Corps Now Accepting Applications for Global Health Service Partnership Volunteers for 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 19, 2014
The Peace Corps Now Accepting Applications for Global Health Service Partnership Volunteers for 2015
Volunteers train a new generation of physicians and nurses in Africa
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 19, 2014 - Today the Global Health Service Partnership program begins accepting applications from physicians and nurses interested in serving as healthcare educators in Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda starting summer 2015. Volunteers serve one-year assignments at medical and nursing schools working alongside local faculty to strengthen the quality of their education and clinical practices.
The Global Health Service Partnership is a collaboration of the Peace Corps, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and the non-profit Seed Global Health. The program presents an opportunity for American physicians and nurses to make a tangible difference in communities abroad by addressing the known shortage of skilled physicians, nurses and clinical faculty in resource-limited countries.
The first-ever group of Global Health Service Partnership volunteers left for Africa in 2013 and will complete their service this summer. These volunteers have worked to improve the quality of medical education for more than a thousand students across 11 different medical and nursing schools.
“The opportunity to build capacity rather than be a Band-Aid solution during short stints providing care to patients is what really intrigued me about joining the Global Health Service Partnership,” said Brittney Sullivan, a pediatric nurse practitioner currently volunteering in Malawi.
Applications must be submitted by Dec. 5, 2014 to be considered for departure in 2015. Benefits for volunteers include monthly living stipends, transportation to and from their country of service, comprehensive medical care, a readjustment allowance, and paid vacation days. Qualified volunteers are also eligible for debt repayment of up to $30,000 per year for each year of service through program partner Seed Global Health.
Physician applicants must be board-eligible or board-certified. Nurse applicants must have completed a Bachelor of Science in nursing as well as a post-graduate degree and have a minimum of three years of clinical experience. All applicants must have an active license in the United States.
First established in 2012, this innovative public-private partnership is a Peace Corps Response program, which offers high-impact, short-term assignments for qualified professionals.
Learn more about the Global Health Service Partnership and begin the application process here.
About PEPFAR: The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is the U.S. Government initiative to help save the lives of people affected by HIV/AIDS around the world. PEPFAR is the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease internationally and PEPFAR investments also provide a platform for efforts to address other public health needs. PEPFAR is driven by a shared responsibility among donor and partner nations and others to make smart investments to save lives. For more information, visitwww.pepfar.gov.
About Seed Global Health: Seed Global Health is a non-profit whose mission is to strengthen health systems globally by partnering U.S. physicians and nurses with local educators. Seed Global Health believes educational partnerships can rapidly increase the pool of providers and educators in countries where they are most needed. Committed to recruiting the best-qualified candidates, including those who may have financial constraints to service, Seed Global Health raises and disburses loan repayment and other appropriate stipends of support to individuals chosen for assignments abroad. Visit www.seedglobalhealth.org for more information.
Peace Corps Rape Survivors Lobby Congress For Fair Abortion Coverage
From Huffington Post Today
Posted: 05/06/2014 10:22 am EDT Updated: 3 hours ago
Christine Carcano joined the Peace Corps in 2011, two months after graduating from college, because she wanted to travel the world and promote public health. But she had only served four of her expected 27 months in a rural town in Peru when she says a local man from her community raped her.
“I didn’t tell anyone in my town,” she told The Huffington Post in an interview. “I was in denial. I thought if I didn’t talk about it and didn’t think about it, it would go away on its own.”
Weeks later, when Carcano developed pelvic inflammatory disease as a result of the rape, she had to travel to Lima, Peru, for medical treatment. She finally admitted to the Peace Corps’ medical providers what had happened to her. “It was the first time I could say it out loud,” she said. “It felt like a huge burden had been lifted.”
Because she had been assaulted, Carcano was required by the Peace Corps to have several blood tests done before she could return to her community. Her medical officer came into her hotel room the next day and asked her to sit down on the bed.
“She said, ‘You got some blood tests back,’ and I said, right away, ‘I’m pregnant,’” Carcano recalled. “And she said, ‘Yes.’”
The medical officer then informed Carcano of her options: She could continue her pregnancy and leave the Peace Corps, or the government could fly her to Washington, D.C. for an abortion. But the Corps could not cover the $500 procedure as it had covered all the rest of her medical care.
“It felt like a betrayal,” she said. “The Peace Corps staff had been amazing, but when it came to my biggest hour of need, their hands were tied.”
Carcano was 24 years old at the time, and living on her Peace Corps stipend of about $300 a month, an amount that only just covered rent, food and transportation. Carcano had no money to pay for an abortion, and if she chose to continue the pregnancy, she would have no job, no partner and no savings to help her care for a baby.
She also did not want to ask her parents for money for an abortion, because she didn’t want to tell them she’d been raped and was now pregnant. “I felt very defeated,” she said.
Carcano ended up borrowing money for the procedure from the mother of a fellow Peace Corps volunteer, who mailed a $500 check to Carcano’s brother in the United States. Carcano had to call around to different clinics in the D.C. area, compare prices and set up her own abortion.
By the time she flew into D.C. and arrived at the clinic, she was two months pregnant. The doctor gave her three anesthesia options: light, medium and heavy, depending on what she could afford. She only had enough money for local anesthetic, the lightest option, so she remained awake throughout the procedure.
“I swear, I could feel everything,” she said. “It was an incredibly painful experience, physically, mentally. The pain sort of lives with you. It’s hard to think about the fact that I was financially restricted to a pain threshold.”
Since 1979, the federal appropriations provision that funds the Peace Corps has contained a rider which prohibits funding for abortion, even in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger. The policy is out of step with the rest of federal law, which allows abortion coverage in those special circumstances for nearly all other women who receive health coverage through federal streams, including Medicaid recipients, federal employees, residents of the District of Columbia and even women in federal prisons.
But Peace Corps volunteers often serve in countries with no legal abortion access and face a much higher risk of sexual assault than federal employees working in the United States. In a study distributed Tuesday by the Center for Reproductive Rights, researchers interviewed 433 returned Peace Corps volunteers, including 362 women, and found that nearly 10 percent of them had been sexually assaulted during their service, while a third of them knew another volunteer who was sexually assaulted. Five percent of the women surveyed reported having a personal abortion experience, either in the United States or in the country where they were serving.
The study, conducted by researchers with the University of Ottawa, Cambridge Reproductive Health Consultants and the Office of Population Research at Princeton University, found that all of the women who had been sexually assaulted in the Peace Corps described the ban on abortion coverage for rape survivors as “unfair, punitive, and reflective of a broader culture of victim-blaming.”
Since 2011, Democratic members of Congress have been trying to bring abortion coverage for Peace Corps volunteers in line with the coverage other federal health care recipients receive. Last year, the Senate included the provision in its 2013 appropriations bill, but the House version left it out, and the provision was ultimately dropped after the two chambers conferenced on the federal budget.
This year, President Barack Obama has included abortion coverage equity for Peace Corps volunteers in his budget proposal for 2015, and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) intend to introduce standalone bills that would permanently codify the provision.
“It is absolutely unconscionable that female Peace Corps volunteers who are victims of sexual assault, or whose pregnancies endanger their lives, are not afforded the same health care access as virtually all other women with federal health coverage,” Lowey told The Huffington Post in an email. “They deserve our steadfast support, and I am working hard to ensure our volunteers get the health care coverage they need to continue serving our country.”
Carcano and Mary Kate Shannon, another returned Peace Corps volunteer who was raped twice during her service, are meeting with members of Congress from both parties this week to urge them to pass the Peace Corps Equity Act and to support Obama’s budget provision. Shannon, who says she was first raped by a taxi driver on her way to lunch in her Peru community, told HuffPost she is trying to protect future volunteers from feeling abandoned by the organization charged with caring for them for 27 months.
“Abortion is a choice no Peace Corps volunteer wants to have to make, but what we do want is fair treatment,” she said. “I don’t want another volunteer to feel as lonely and distraught and helpless as I felt.”
About John Coyne Babbles
John Coyne Babbles is a collection of comments, opinions, musings, and outrages from this RPCV who served with the first group (1962-64) in Ethiopia.
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