On CNN added on August 23, 2013 photos by Rowland Scherman, the official photographer of the 1963 March on Washington. Rowland talks about his breathtaking photos.
where returned Volunteers share their expertise and experiences
On CNN added on August 23, 2013 photos by Rowland Scherman, the official photographer of the 1963 March on Washington. Rowland talks about his breathtaking photos.
Mad Man Jules Pagano
Jules Pagano was not a Mad Man, though he could have played one on the t.v. show. Yes, he smoked. God, they all smoked! And drank! And partied! Jules was more of a character actor than a Leading Man at the early Peace Corps and spent his years there as Chief of the Division of Professional and Technical Affairs. (Yes, Virginia, they did have stupid titles like that even in the ’60s.)
Jules had a breezy, laid-back, amusing, and charming persona. He was like great poetry: there was more than one level of meaning to Jules. And like a good union organizer (which he had been) he held his cards close to his chest. If anyone could draw to an inside straight, it was Jules Pagano.
I knew Jules best for a short period in the spring of 1965 when he organized the unions segment for the first Conference of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers held at the State Department. I linked up with him as my father had spent nearly thirty years working in the steel mills of Gary, Indiana. Union workers was my turf. And Jules and I were a natural fit.
I’m not sure how or why Jules got to the Peace Corps. He was always the ‘odd man’ out, it seems, sitting at the back of the room, in one of those chairs up against the wall, making funny, off-handed comments about the other Mad Men at the conference table. He kept all of us (RPCVs) in stitches the way he pierced the bloated egos of the Mad Men who clustered like dogs in heat around Shriver.
The thing about Jules was that he never attempted to impress us, not that the RPCVs were easily impressed, filled as we were with our own bloated self-importance for having been there, the first PCVs back from the Third World, Kennedy’s Original Kids. God, we, too, were insufferable.
Jules was amused by us all. He had been there, done that, before any of us had ever heard about the plight of the underdeveloped world.
Coming out of WWII, Jules was the first veteran to enroll in the Great Books program at St. John’s College in Annapolis. He waited tables in Annapolis and ran a mimeograph machine to keep alive, and finished college in 3 ½ years by going to school through the summer months.
It was at St. John’s College that he became interested in adult education and decided that he could follow his passion in the labor movement.
So he went to work in 1948 for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. While working in Virginia, he also got involved with the telephone workers and helped them organize into the Communications Workers of America.
Working in Richmond, he was the CWA’s education director, public relations director, research director and director of legislation. And as he said, he also directed people to the public bathrooms. All of this ‘directing’ got the attention of the national organization of CWA, and he was brought to D.C. to become the union’s first education director.
Jules believed in adult education, and the CWA was a natural for him. He established eleven training centers at universities throughout the nation and began sending local officials through training program, everyone from shop stewards to presidents.
By 1955, he was on a Fulbright grant to study problems of labor education in Britain and finished his year by writing a report for the Fulbright Committee on adult education in the UK. Next, he went to Central and South America for the CWA to develop international training program, bringing representatives from 16 Latin American countries to Washington and putting them through a three-month program.
It was then that he found the Peace Corps, or the Peace Corps found him, and he was “on board” as they use to say in the early days, by December, 1961.
The truth is I never knew exactly what Jules Pagano did at the Peace Corps. True, he was always around, slipping smoothly in and out of other people’s offices, always looking dapper, always with time to chat, time to tell another story. For whatever the incident or occasion, he always had a story that was a bank shot off an event that was about to happen.
He seemed to us RPCVs not to have any authority at all at the agency. He wasn’t one of those Mad Men pushing themselves forward to be at the front of the room, but whenever there was a chance meeting of Shriver and Jules in the hallways of the old Maiatico Building at 806 Connecticut Avenue, Shriver would stop his customary charging about to talk to Jules. Shriver, we could see, genuinely liked the guy.
Years later, when I ran into Pagano in Washington, D.C., long after our time in the Peace Corps, Jules was wearing in his lapel one of those small buttons Shriver gave to those of us who were in the Peace Corps during his five years at the agency.
Of all the organizations that Jules had worked with and devoted his life to, from the CWA to the AFL-CIO, from the International Ladies Garment Workers Union to the Fulbright Scholars, it was Shriver’s pin from his Peace Corps years that he was wearing.
I was going to ask him why, but I know why. He loved the Peace Corps.
I just learned that Dr. Jules O. Pagano passed away at his home Sunday, July 14 in Jamesville, New York.He was two days shy of his 88th birthday.
His professional career spanned more than a half-century. After working with the Peace Corps, and after the passage of the Higher Education Act in 1965, Pagano was named the first Director of Adult Education Division at the US Office of Education. His responsibilities included administering Title One of the Higher Education Act of 1965, the Adult Education Act of 1966, and the Civil Defense Adult Education Program.
Leaving the government, Pagano began a long career in higher education. He served as Dean and Associate Vice President of Florida International University. In 1977, he was selected as President of the Massachusetts Board of Regional Community Colleges where he appointed the first black and first woman community college President in the state. In 1979, Dr. Pagano was recruited by Bard College in New York to serve as Vice President and Provost of Simmons Rock. He believed that the student - the learner - is at the heart of the education process and that learning to learn is more important than learning the facts.
In 1981, Pagano returned to government when Gov. Hugh Carey of NY appointed him Chair of the NYS Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. Following his work in New York, Jules traveled to California where he served as President of Saybrook Institute, a graduate school and research center. He then returned after a short retirement to Washington, DC where he accepted a position as Vice President of the American Income Life Insurance Company and Executive Director of AIL’s Labor Advisory Board.
Jules was born on July 16, 1925 in Newfield, New Jersey. He attended St. John’s College in Annapolis. He studied at the University of London as a Senior Fulbright scholar in 1955. He later served as Director of the St. John’s College Alumni Board from 1984 to 1988.
His family held a private memorial service in Syracuse and will be holding a public memorial service on September 16 in Washington DC. The family has asked that contributions be made in his name to the Syracuse Friends of Chamber Music or to the CNY Food Bank. For a guest book, please visit: www.SCHEPPFAMILY.com
Being published this coming October is Camelot’s Court: Inside the Kennedy White House by historian Robert Dallek, author of the previous Kennedy book, An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963 and Nixon and Kissinger, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, among other books. This new book offers, according to the press release, “a penetrating look at the inner circle or brain trust that defined the Kennedy administration.”
As we know, the Peace Corps in 1960 was Kennedy’s experiment in international development that others called a wacky and dangerous idea. The Daughters of the American Revolution warned of a “yearly drain” of “brains and brawn…for the benefit of backward, underdeveloped countries.” Former President Eisenhower declared it a “juvenile experiment,” and Richard Nixon said it was another form of “draft evasion.”
Not everyone among Kennedy’s ‘best and the brightest’ were keen on the Peace Corps idea. Kennedy’s staff had been thinking of a small, low-cost addendum to the overall foreign assistance program, as Ted Sorensen, the President’s special counsel, told Shriver. Shriver had in mind a “large, independent new government agency which could be in the field within a few months.” Another staff against Shriver’s idea of an independent agency was Ralph Dungan, who Kennedy had made head of a task force to overseas assistance programs.
But Shriver, with the help of the Vice President and the hard work of Bill Moyers, got his way. The following year, Time magazine declared in a cover story that the Peace Corps was “the greatest single success the Kennedy administration had produced.”
In Dallek’s book of nearly 500 pages, the Peace Corps gets a page, mostly about picking Shriver to be the first director, and saying that Kennedy viewed the agency as making a difference not only in helping the less advantaged but also in advancing the national interest. (Dallek actually gives more attention to Mimi Beardsley Alford, the nineteen-year-old intern who had an eighteen month affair with Kennedy in the summer of ‘62.)
Dallek writes, “Kennedy hoped the Peace Corps could become a model for how his administration would perform: a collaborative effort of the best minds and most well intentioned to create an innovation program serving both the world and the nation. By 1963, within two years of its founding, the Corps had enrolled 7,300 volunteers serving in forty-four countries.”
That’s it for the Peace Corps. The author moves onto The Alliance for Progress and then Cuba. In reviewing an advance, uncorrected proof of the book, I can’t find another mention of Shriver or the Peace Corps.
Interestingly, Harris Wofford, who with Shriver, lead the Mayflower Hotel Gang in setting up the agency in the winter months of 1961, gets more print from Dallek as the author writes about Kennedy and civil rights.
Dallek writes that Kennedy, as he prepared to launch his administration, was assigned some aides to develop a civil rights agenda. “The key figure in assembling personnel and a program for the fight ahead was Harris Wofford.” Dallek mentions how Wofford had persuaded Kennedy to call Coretta Scott King and help arrange the release of her husband from the Reidsville, Georgia state prison, where he had been sent for having an expired driver’s license, and details over several pages all of the other early civil rights steps taken by Kennedy, but he mentions only Wofford’s involvement with the framing of the new Peace Corps in passing when a small group of university presidents quizzed Kennedy about who was going to be appointed special assistant on civil rights. Kennedy said Wofford and the academics replied that he (Wofford) was working on establishing the Peace Corps.
Kennedy replied, “that’s only temporary.”
Kennedy moved slowly on civil rights in ‘61 and by March of ‘62, Wofford wrote Kennedy that he wanted to go full time with the Peace Corps and by August of ‘62 Wofford was on a plane with his family to Ethiopia as the first Peace Corps Director to Ethiopia, and as the Peace Corps’ Special Representative in Africa. Wofford would spend the next five years with the agency, returning to Washington in the summer of ‘64 to become an Associate Director. So much for a temporary job at the Peace Corps.
In 1966 Wofford would leave the agency to become the first president of the new State University of New York Old Westbury College on Long Island, but, as we know, he is still linked to the Peace Corps in many ways and through many connections.
My guess is that Dallek, as a historican and not a journalist, did a lot of reading, and not much interviewing of the members of the Kennedy Court, in writing this book. Well, in due course, with the publications of all the memoirs and histories now being written by RPCVs, our days in the sunlight will come, and we will tell the world the real story of the Peace Corps, which is, as we all well know, what PCVs have been doing on their own since the fall of ‘61.
In November 2011, Congress enacted the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act to ensure that volunteers serving abroad can access the care, support, and resources they need to prevent, respond to, or recover from a sexual assault. Since the passage of the law, First Response Action has closely monitored Peace Corps’ implementation efforts to make sure it is creating a volunteer-centered program as envisioned by the law. Relying on information provided by the Peace Corps and reports issued by federal agencies, First Response Action presents its first “report card” assessing the agency’s work thus far.
First Response Action applauds Peace Corps’ progress in a few key areas. Indeed, most of the agency’s progress implementing the Act has occurred during Carrie Hessler-Radelet’s tenure as Acting Director since October 2012. First Response Action also appreciates the agency’s cooperation in providing updates on its implementation efforts. The reality remains, however, that the agency has a significant amount of work left to implement the Kate Puzey Act and must act with far greater urgency. According to the Peace Corps’ own 2012 Annual Volunteer Survey Results, one in eight volunteers reported being sexually assaulted in 2012-a jump in sexual assault rates from previous years.1 Thus, the prompt and full implementation of the law is necessary to ensure a safer, stronger Peace Corps for current and future volunteers.
Peace Corps Continues to Use Outdated, Narrow Definitions of Sexual Assault. Experts agree that the success of sexual assault programs and policies turns on how a victim’s sexual assault experience is defined. Unfortunately, Peace Corps recently proposed revised definitions — “aggravated sexual assault” and “sexual assault” — that maintain its two-tiered approach to defining sexual assault, unlike other federal agencies such as the Department of Defense and the FBI, which use only one definition of sexual assault.2 Peace Corps’ inconsistent sexual assault definitions therefore undermine the administration’s ability to make apples-to-apples comparisons of the number of sexual assault incidents across federal agencies. In addition, Peace Corps still relies on the use of force as one of the elements to differentiate between an “aggravated sexual assault” and “sexual assault.” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, on the other hand, has revised the FBI’s definitions of rape and assault to remove the requirement of force, and the Department of Defense uses one standardized definition to capture all instances of sexual violence without requiring force as an element.3 First Response Action calls on Peace Corps to follow suit and establish a single definition of sexual assault to capture all sexual offenses other than rape committed against a volunteer.
Peace Corps Has Moved Very Slowly in Creating a New Whistleblower Protection Program. One of the hallmark requirements of the Kate Puzey Act is the creation of a new whistleblower protection program, which would protect the safety and identity of a volunteer who reports allegations of misconduct or mismanagement committed by Peace Corps staff. Unfortunately, Peace Corps has made little progress in getting such a program off the ground, which is particularly troubling given that Ms. Puzey was murdered because the agency failed to protect her identify after she reported that a Peace Corps contractor had been sexually assaulting young women in the school where Ms. Puzey taught.4 The agency finally updated its whistleblower policy in May 2013-even though it has had more than 18 months to complete its work.5 Unfortunately, Peace Corps provides few specifics on how it plans to implement the policy. FRA calls on Peace Corps to ensure that its whistleblower policy provides volunteers robust protections, to disseminate the policy to volunteers so they know their options for reporting and their rights in the face of retaliation, and to train staff on the new policy as soon as possible so they know how to protect volunteers who report misconduct.
Some Key Responders Have Not Been Trained. Not all Country Directors (CDs) and Peace Corps Medical Officers (PCMOs) have been trained on the Response Guidelines: Guidance for Staff to Provide Compassionate and Timely Support, which “serve[s] as the game plan by which post[s] will provide timely and effective response, especially in the first crucial hours after the incident is reported.”6 In addition, not all staff who play a role in responding to incidents of sexual assault-including staff in the Office of Volunteer Support, Office of Medical Services, and Office of General Counsel-have been trained on the Response Guidelines.7 Peace Corps reports that it has made some progress by recently rolling out an online training program which is now mandatory for all first responders.8
Some Acting Country Directors Do Not Feel Prepared to Respond. Peace Corps has not provided sexual assault response training to staff who routinely serve as acting Country Directors, such as Directors of Management Operations and Directors of Programming and Training.9 As a result, some staff who have served as an acting Country Director said in interviews conducted by the Peace Corps’ Inspector General’s Office that “they did not feel fully prepared to respond to sexual assault incidents while serving as acting CD.”10
Not All Staff Have Received Training Mandated By The Kate Puzey Act. Peace Corps has not finished drafting its comprehensive sexual assault policy requiring that all staff be trained.11 Accordingly, some Country Directors have not trained all of their staff, as required by the Kate Puzey Act,12 and instead have selected certain staff to be trained.13 Indeed, Peace Corps’ Inspector General has recommended that all posts hold sexual assault training sessions for all staff annually and periodic first responder refresher sessions.14 Peace Corps has made some progress, however. It reports that more than 1,500 overseas and headquarters staff have completed online sexual assault awareness and victim sensitivity training.15 In addition, trainees’ results are being analyzed to measure changes in attitudes.16
No Policy or Support Structure for Victims of “Other Sexual Assaults.” Peace Corps has had no policy dedicated to responding to volunteers who, before the recent proposed revisions to the sexual assault definitions, have experienced “other sexual assaults”- assaults that, according to the Peace Corps, involve “[u]nwanted or forced kissing, fondling, and/or groping” of a victim.17 Accordingly, some victims received little or no follow-up by Peace Corps staff, partly because the Response Guidelines provide no instructions for offering medical, legal, or safety and security support to these victims.18 In fact, the Inspector General found that Peace Corps’ refusal to respond to victims of “other sexual assaults” has led, in some instances, to escalating harassment by perpetrators.19
Slow Progress on Creating Confidential Reporting System. The Kate Puzey Act requires Peace Corps to establish a mechanism for volunteers to report the details of a sexual assault while maintaining their confidentiality so a limited number of staff know identifying information about a victim.20 According to Peace Corps officials, the agency’s Senior Policy Committee approved the restricted reporting policy on March 13, 2013-18 months after the passage of the Kate Puzey Act.21 Staff in Africa, Asia, and Central America will be trained on this new policy between June and August 2013, after which the reporting system will be implemented in those areas. There are no plans yet to roll out the policy agency-wide,22 although the agency hopes to finalize a permanent policy by 2014.23 A confidential reporting system is critical to encouraging volunteers to report. Indeed, 50% of all sexual assault victims, including those who have been raped, said in 2012 that they did not report their assaults to the Peace Corps.24 Greater urgency is needed.
Sexual Assault Response Liaison Program in the Process of Being Implemented. The Kate Puzey Act requires the Peace Corps to establish a Sexual Assault Response Liaison (SARL) program, which will identify liaisons to respond to reports of sexual assault, including helping sexual assault victims navigate their in-country response systems and making sure that victims are moved to a safe place after being assaulted.25 The Senior Policy Committee approved a SARL policy on March 13, 2013, SARLs have been selected for posts, and Peace Corps hopes to fully deploy the SARL program in the field in September 2013.26
24-Hour Reporting Hotline in Pilot Phase. Congress directed the agency to provide a 24hour sexual assault hotline so volunteers can anonymously report incidents of sexual assault, obtain counseling if they have been assaulted, and learn about other resources that might be available to assist in their recovery.27 On February 15, 2013, Peace Corps launched a six-month pilot hotline in seven countries.28 It intends to deliver a full-scale, global hotline in the fall of 2013.29
Volunteers Who Have Been Sexually Assaulted May Be Medically Evacuated. Volunteers who have been sexually assaulted have the option of being medically evacuated from their post either to the victim’s home or to Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, DC.
They also may request that a member of the Peace Corps staff accompany them to the United States. In addition, a Peace Corps staff member or representative will meet volunteers evacuated to Washington, DC at the airport.30 FRA applauds Peace Corps’ progress on this front.
Office of Victim Advocacy Has Been Established. Peace Corps has created the Office of Victim Advocacy, which helps volunteers receive medical and other types of support in the aftermath of a sexual assault.31 Peace Corps has hired a Senior Victim Advocate and a support staffer. The agency intends to hire two Associate Victim Advocates in 2013.32 FRA thanks Peace Corps for the commitment and resources it has invested in the new office.
Peace Corps Should Provide More Information About Counseling Options. Although Peace Corps provides volunteers some information about counseling options, experts believe that the agency should offer more guidance about how volunteers can obtain mental health care,33 including helping Returned Peace Corps Volunteers’ (RPCVs) locate counselors who accept workers’ compensation benefits so treatment is more affordable. These same experts have also suggested that Peace Corps staff-including PCMOs, staff in the Office of Victim Advocacy, and Counseling and Outreach Unit officers-improve the language they use to discuss counseling options with volunteers.34
Peace Corps Is Not Verifying Volunteers’ Access to or the Quality of Their Medical Benefits.35 According to the GAO, Peace Corps is not taking steps to monitor RPCVs’ access to benefits under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) or the quality of those benefits.36 For example, Peace Corps has not determined whether there is a gap in the number and geographic location of mental health providers-even though RPCVs most often seek medical care for mental health ailments, as compared to other types of ailments afflicting RPCVs.37 In addition, Peace Corps is not assessing volunteers’ knowledge of application requirements, such as the medical documentation that must be submitted with a FECA application. Peace Corps therefore may not be aware of the extent to which volunteers are having problems navigating the system and obtaining FECA benefits.38
First Response Action hopes that this report will help the public, Peace Corps officials, the Obama Administration, Senate and House Members and their staffs, Peace Corps volunteers, and other stakeholders understand the status of Peace Corps’ efforts to implement the Kate Puzey Act. First Response Action applauds the steps Peace Corps has taken and recognizes the significant work that remains to be completed on an urgent basis. We are committed to making sure that Peace Corps receives the attention and resources it needs from Congress and the Obama Administration so it can fully and effectively implement the Act. First Response Action will continue monitoring the agency’s implementation efforts and providing periodic updates to the public on the agency’s progress until all Peace Corps volunteers receive the care, support, and protection they deserve under the Kate Puzey Act.
1 Peace Corps, 2012 Annual Volunteer Survey Results, at 38 (May 2013), available at http://files.peacecorps.gov/multimedia/pdf/opengov/2012_Annual_Volunteer_Survey.pdf.
2 Amanda Terkel, Eric Holder Expands FBI’s Narrow, Outdated Definition of Rape, Huffington Post (Jan. 6, 2012), available at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/06/eric-holder-fbi-rape_n_1189145.html; Department of Defense, Directive No. 6495.01, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Program, at 17 (Jan. 23, 2012), available at http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/649501p.pdf.
4 ABC News, Why Would Anyone Kill Kate? (Jan. 14, 2011), available at http://abcnews.go.com/2020/video/kill-kate-murder-peace-corps-coverup-death-murder-victim-family-2020-12621143.
5 Peace Corps, Progress in Implementation of the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011, at 4-5 (Mar. 2013) (”Peace Corps’ Summary of Implementation”).
6 Kathy A. Buller, Peace Corps Office of Inspector General, Final Report on the Review of the Peace Corps’ Implementation of Guidelines Related to Volunteer Victims of Rape and Sexual Assault, at 8, 26, 27 (Sept. 27, 2012) (”OIG Report”).
7 Id. at 28.
8 Conference Call with Anthony Marra and Chai Shenoy, Office of the General Counsel, Peace Corps (May 1, 2013).
9 Id. at 27.
11 Peace Corps Volunteer Sexual Assault Advisory Council, Annual Report¸ at 40 (Nov. 21, 2012) (”Council Report”).
12 22 U.S.C. § 2507b(d).
13 OIG Report at 13.
14 Id. at 14.
15 Peace Corps’ Summary of Implementation at 2.
16 Peace Corps, Timeline: Peace Corps Progress on Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act & the Global Sexual Assault Risk Reduction and Response Program, at 2.
17 Peace Corps, Statistical Report of Crimes Against Volunteers 2011, at 3 (Nov. 2012).
18 OIG Report at 19-20.
20 22 U.S.C. § 2507b(a)(1); 22 U.S.C. § 2507a(f)(2).
21 Peace Corps’ Summary of Implementation at 3.
23 Council Report at 8.
24 Peace Corps, 2012 Annual Volunteer Survey Results, 38 (May 2013), available at http://files.peacecorps.gov/multimedia/pdf/opengov/2012_Annual_Volunteer_Survey.pdf.
25 22 U.S.C. § 2507b(a)(2); Council Report at 8, 24.
26 Peace Corps’ Summary of Implementation at 3.
27 22 U.S.C. § 2507a(e)(3).
28 Peace Corps’ Summary of Implementation at 3; Conference Call with Anthony Marra and Chai Shenoy, Office of the General Counsel, Peace Corps (May 1, 2013).
30 Council Report at 38; Peace Corps’ Summary of Implementation at 3-4; 22 U.S.C. § 2507b(c)(7).
31 22 U.S.C. § 2507c(b)(1).
32 Peace Corps’ Summary of Implementation at 4.
33 Council Report at 8, 35, 37.
34 Id. at 36.
35 A Peace Corps volunteer who suffers an injury as a result of her service may be reimbursed for medical expenses under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA). Peace Corps must inform volunteers of benefits for which they may be eligible and help them navigate the application process, while the Department of Labor administers the FECA program. General Accounting Office, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers: Labor and Peace Corps Need Joint Approach to Monitor Access to and Quality of Health Care Benefits, at 1-2 (Nov. 2012) (”GAO Report”). 36 Id. at 18-19.
37 Id. at 18.
38 Id. at 14.
Report Highlights Gaps, Calls on Peace Corps To Promptly and Fully Implement the Law,
and Expresses Concerns With Peace Corps’ Outdated Sexual Assault Definitions
and Lack of Robust Whistleblower Program
July 31, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Casey Frazee (513-518-4936); Karestan Koenen (646-765-8992); Madhu Chugh (202-663-6529)
WASHINGTON - First Response Action (FRA) released its first report card today assessing the Peace Corps’ progress in implementing the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act, the law passed by Congress in November 2011 to ensure that volunteers serving abroad have access to the care, support, and resources they need to recover from a sexual assault. Assigning an overall grade of “C,” FRA found major gaps in Peace Corps’ compliance with the law. According to Peace Corps’ own 2012 Annual Volunteer Survey Results, crimes of sexual assault committed against volunteers remain a major challenge for the agency, with one in eight volunteers reporting a sexual assault in 2012-a noticeable jump from previous years.
“Peace Corps volunteers have made an extraordinary commitment to the United States and to the countries they serve. They deserve a commitment from Peace Corps that it is doing everything in its power to make sure volunteers are safe and that they can receive adequate care and assistance if they are sexually assaulted,” said Casey Frazee, Director of First Response Action and a former Peace Corps volunteer who was sexually assaulted during her service in South Africa.
FRA assigned an overall grade of “C” to Peace Corps’ implementation efforts by assessing its work and assigning grades in four key areas. Significant findings include:
In-Country Response (C)
Return Response (B-)
“Every year, hundreds of American women are sexually assaulted abroad during their Peace Corps service,” said Karestan Koenen, a former Peace Corps volunteer who was raped while serving in Niger. Koenen is now a professor at Columbia University and President of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. Added Koenen: “Passing the Kate Puzey Act was an important first step, and fully and promptly implementing the law is the next step. There is no reason Peace Corps should be so far behind more than 18 months after Congress passed the law.”
Added Frazee: “FRA looks forward to hearing from Carrie Hessler-Radelet during her upcoming nomination hearing about Peace Corps’ action plan for fully implementing the Kate Puzey Act as soon as possible.”
Implementation of the Kate Puzey Act is necessary to ensure a safer, stronger Peace Corps for current and future volunteers. FRA is issuing the report card to help the public, Peace Corps officials, the Obama Administration, Senate and House Members and their staffs, Peace Corps volunteers, and other stakeholders understand the status of Peace Corps’ efforts to implement the Kate Puzey Act. FRA will continue providing periodic updates to the public until all Peace Corps volunteers receive the care, support, and protection they deserve under the Kate Puzey Act.
First Response Action is an initiative led by Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) working to support all volunteers who are survivors of sexual assault and other violent crimes. For more information, visit FRA’s website at FirstResponseAction.org.
The staff orientation instruction booklet for Charlotte Amalie, Virgin Islands, back in 1968 when the Peace Corps Training was done on St. Croix and St. Thomas, has an interesting piece of instruction for incoming training staff.
One paragraph in the 9-page orientation pamphlet, which is mimeographed and stapled together, reads:
LIVING ACCOMMODATIONS AT THE VITC
The living accommodations at the VITC are not luxurious by any standards.
Housing for married couples is not available unless specifically stated in writing by the Director of the VITC. Housing for single staff members is generally shared quarters. A single room provided with two beds, two chairs, one dresser, one standing wardrobe rack. Linen is distributed once weekly. Toilet and shower facilities are located in a separate building. There is no hot water at the St. Croix Camp and no flush toilets. The St. Thomas Camp is equipped with flush toilets, and in some cases hot water. Meals are served in communal dining hall. Each person is responsible for washing his own utensils.
Those were the days!
[A couple weeks ago I posted what Jon Ebeling (Ethiopia 1962-64) had to say about Shriver visiting his town of Debra Marcus, and then seeing Shriver a few years later at the State Department in Washington. Here's Shriver again talking about that visit to Debra Marcus, and quoting from a letter written by another PCV in that town, Dick Lipez (Ethiopia 1962-64).
Sargent Shriver gave the one hundred Sixty-fifth Commencement of Georgetown University in early June of 1964. He talked, of course, about the Peace Corps, telling the graduates and their families that he had been at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand and was awarded an honorary degree to honor the Peace Corps and the 265 Volunteers serving in Thailand.
Three of those Volunteers, he said, graduated from Georgetown. Then he went onto talk about eight Volunteers who had trained at Georgetown for the Peace Corps in the summer of '62.]
Shriver began the Commencement Address with….
Let me tell you about eight other Volunteers–eight of the first 300 Volunteers for Ethiopia who took their Peace Corps training here at Georgetown. I last saw them in the little provincial town of Debra Marcos, near the Blue Nile, in October 1962. We sent men only to that post because it was considered the most difficult, most isolated one in Ethiopia. I will never forget the rocky ride from the strip of grass on which we landed to their school–the cobblestones on the main street were put in with the smooth side down and the pointed, spike side up. I wondered how these eight men, thrown together like that, without any American women around, would get along.
Here is what one of them, Dick Lipez, wrote recently. “Through some unimaginable fluke we got along. We were not only friends, but we stimulated one another intellectually in a way that perhaps no eight people in the same house ever have. Last year, I did more reading and more talking about what I had read than during any three years of college. We talked politics endlessly, we talked about history, travel, sports, women, literature.” The liberals, he said, became more conservative and the conservatives more liberal. ‘If anyone in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania,” Dick wrote about his hometown, “discovered four or five men sitting around a Coleman lantern in the middle of the night reading and talking about poetry, the scandal would shake the town from the first island bridge to Crow’s Diner!’
Those eight men who went from this Georgetown campus to Debre Marcos, Ethiopia, are now coming home. Dick Lipez in his letter home tried to explain why they were coming home with a new sense of responsibility. “The Peace Corps life tempers one by its sheer and irresistible intensity,” he says. They look forward to coming home, but ‘missing’ he says, will be ‘the adventure, the thrill that none of us will ever be able to live again with such intensity, such freedom. We had great responsibilities–to our students, to one another, to ourselves–and in meeting these responsibilities we found a kind of freedom greater than any we could have imagined.”
Jack Prebis (Ethiopia 1962-64) who was later an APCD in Ethiopia (1965-67) sent me this photo from his days working in ACTION. This ’sit in’ happened in 1975, I believe. RPCVs were protesting Nixon/Ford Administration cutting the Peace Corps budget. Some Volunteers occupied Peace Corps offices when the agency was located in its original site, the Maiatico Building at 806 Connecticut Ave. They hung banners out the windows. The office then closed and the staff went home. No one called the police.
The head of ACTION at the time was Mike Balzano. Balzano was an avid Nixon supporter. Walking down the halls one time, he was heard to say “I can just smell the hate the RPCVs have for me in the air.”
Balzano made a concerted effort (complete with mandatory seminars and questionnaires) to ID and get rid of the Kennedyites and fill the Peace Corps with folks of his own political ilk. He personally interviewed potential staff, even for entry level positions. He questioned a secretarial applicant wanting to knew about her political beliefs, wanting to know if she voted Republican. (It might be that Democrats did the same, but I never heard of it.)
Some background on Balzano. He was a White House Staff Assistant from February 1972 through March 1973. He worked under Charles Colson on “blue-collar” and “white ethnic group” concerns. Balzano acted as a liaison between the Nixon Administration and various segments of the population, including labor, Catholics, Poles, Slovaks, Italians, Greeks, Ukranians, Lithuanians, Estonians, and other Eastern European groups. Nixon appointed Balzano head of ACTION in 1973. In August 1974, Nixon would resign his office, a victim of Watergate. Charles Colson, Michael Balzano’s good friend, and known as the “hatched man” in the White House, would spent seven months in jail for his Watergate dealings. He would come out of jail a Christian.
While he was in the White House, Balzano monitored for Colson these groups and concerns: busing, crime, Eastern Europe, Radio Free Europe, patronage, ethnic representation in government, Nixon’s visit to the Soviet Union, Vietnam, the Ethnic Studies Heritage Programs Act, and the Higher Education Act. The 1972 election was also a focal point. The support of the various groups was seen as both a goal for Balzano and as a measure of the success of the Nixon Administration in the first term.
Carrie Hessler-Radelet has served as deputy director of the Peace Corps since June 23, 2010. She was a PCV in Western Samoa 1981-83 and has had more than two decades of experience in public health focused on HIV/AIDS and maternal and child health. When she came into the Peace Corps as the deputy, she was determined to do something about the poor health support that RPCVs receive after their come home from their tours. Now, she has just announced a new program to help PCVs and RPCVs.
Carrie emailed me today from Africa where she is visiting PCVs, “John, we are trying to reach out to currently serving Volunteers and RPCVs who have concerns about their health care. We have created two separate email hotlines. — one for currently serving Volunteers who have concerns about their health care or would like a second opinion; and a second for RPCVs who need assistance with post-service care or FECA. I am wondering if you might be willing to post this on your website? We are trying to get the word out to all PCVs and RPCVs that we care about their health and want to help them.”
At Carrie’s request, and my full support as this is an important issue for RPCVs, whenever and wherever they served, here’s the agency’s press release, released today:
“The Peace Corps Office of Health Services provides medical and mental health services and support to the Peace Corps community and strives to promote a patient-centered culture that embraces quality, safety, and service satisfaction.
“To ensure the Peace Corps continues to provide quality care, the agency offers currently serving and returned Volunteers the opportunity to ask questions and share comments and concerns. Volunteers currently in service can contact the Quality Improvement Unit at email@example.com. Returned Volunteers can contact the Post Service Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org. All feedback will receive a timely response.”
Thank you, Carrie!
Dennis Grubb (Colombia 1961-63) forwarded the story in today’s Washington Post of the ceremony yesterday by the Irish Embassy where the eternal flame from JFK gravesite will go to Ireland for the 50 anniversary of Kennedy’s visit. Kennedy in the summer before his death visited Ireland and vowed to return–but that never was. The event was organized by the Embassy of Ireland with a reception afterwards at the residence. Tim Shriver, Head of the Special Olympics, spoke at the Ireland Embassy, spoke about service and the fact that because of JFK, “as we are gather here today at the Embassy of Ireland to celebrate thousands of Peace Corps Volunteers are working around the
Tim Shriver related a personal story, saying that once at a Sunday dinner he asked his Uncle Ted why he thought JFK sparked “hope” in people he met. Ted responded with a story of a party in Palm Beach. Jack was chatting up the girls and sister Rosemary was sitting by the pool alone. Jack left the girls and went to talk with Rosemary until the party was over. Teddy said JFK was always offering “hope.”
Geri Critchley (Senegal 1971-72) will be representing the Peace Corps RPCV Community at the New Ross ceremonies. Caroline Kennedy will also be at New Ross this weekend for the ceremonies. Peace Corps Deputy Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet (Western Samoa 1981-83), was to attend the New Ross events but the legal department of the agency will not let her travel to Ireland on her way back from Africa (at government expense) to represent all the Peace Corps Volunteers who responded to Kennedy’s call to make a difference by joining the Peace Corps. Some days, I think, the lawyers at the Peace Corps only approve of events to which they get invited.
To learn more about these events in Ireland, check out: WWW.jfk50ireland.com
To read about the Irish Embassy Ceremony check out today’s Washington Post
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.