The Peace Corps in the Time of Trump, Part 12

When Gaddi Vasquez left the agency on September 7, 2006, he was replaced quickly by another Republican, Ron Tschetter, on September 26. Ron was an RPCV, having served in India with his wife from 1966-68. Ron was from Wisconsin, had a career in finance, and after the Peace Corps would move to Florida and retirement. At the agency, I’m told, he focused his attention on getting older Volunteers. (I will forgive him from changed the name I had given my idea, “Crisis Corps” to “Response Corps.”) Ron would be Director until January 16, 2009. During his tenure, the attrition rate increased to 35%, the highest since the first Gulf War.

Ron Tschetter

But there were positive movements with the Peace Corps for Ron. In the fall of 2007, 59% of all Volunteers were women. (In the 1960s, 65% of all PCVs were men.) Ethnic minority Volunteers jumped to 17%. Unfortunately, he would not be able to increase the number of PCV over the age of 50. The number remained at 5%.

Ron would leave his political appointment with the election of President Obama, but it would take the Obama Administration until August 7, 2009 to appoint Aaron Williams (Dominican Republic 1967-70). It was during this period when there was no Director that the agency experienced the worst attack of violence against a PCV. In March 2009, Kate Puzey was violently murdered in her home just weeks before the end of her tour. Her death would overshadow the Peace Corps for the next decade.

6 Comments

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  • Hi John, Has anyone plotted the attrition rate(s) by year and by host country ? I remember that with the big review in 1967, attrition in the Latin American projects already was something like 25%, whilst in the African projects it was less than 2% (for all reasons). Can you recommend some data on this ? JAT

  • I forgot to mention that a few years ago, I believe during the Ron T administration, i spoke to a recently-returned PCV from a Latin American project, who said as far as he knew, very nearly 100% of his project failed to complete their full two year tour. JAT

  • The Peace Corps publishes an Annual Early Termination Report by various categories, here is the link to the 2016 report:
    http://www.poshcorps.com
    However, it lists all kinds of categories, but it does NOT have termination rates by country. Peace Corps PR people, got to love them!

    Alan Toth and his team at Post Corps, http://www.poshcorps.com, at one time were able to presuade Peace Corps to list ET rates by country. But, again, I could not find this information on their website. You might have better luck, John. I did make an inquiry to them.

    Finally, Peace Corps Wiki, another independent website run by RPCVs, did publish ET rates by country. However, the websire is no longer functioning and I don’t know what happened to the data.

    It is an excellent question and you might try a FOIA with Peace Corps.

  • The question of retention and attrition is one that I’d love to know more about. While visiting Peace Corps sites in Africa seven or eight years ago, I was shocked to hear about how many people were leaving. I am sure Peace Corps has studied this problem, but I have not seen a good explanation. A topic for Peace Corps Worldwide, obviously.

  • I introduced myself to Ron at a Peace Corps event in Denver. I imagined that since we both had served in India, we could strike up some kind of conversation. Nope. Conversation attrition. I don’t think he gave much of a hoot. But then I think: Wisconsin, finance, Florida retirement. Not exactly wellsprings of warmth and enthusiasm. Poor fellow. Or in the current vernacular: Sad.

  • Reading Jane’s comment, i couldn’t help thinking of the emphasis we all, understandably, place on prior PC service, as a requisite for jobs like PC Director, NPCA Pres, and so forth. The Gaddi Vasquez problem. Comprendemos aqui in Nuevomexico la problema con Sr Gaddi. What we call “The Texas problem”. Gaddi looked the part, but didn’t have it in his heart.

    New Mexico was the place from which that legendary founding Country Director, Andy Hernandez, came. I’ve had the privilege to know two such PC legends, Andy, and then George Carter, the founding Country Director in Ghana. Neither, of course, had been volunteers, but they certainly had the sensitivity and smarts. I think every volunteer who worked under them, had immense admiration and respect for both the gentlemen. And unlike what Jane observed concerning Mr Tschetter, this same sensitivity was apparent many years later. Not what they had learned, but what they were, deep down.

    I have to say in total sincerity, however, that amongst the best listeners I have encountered, was PC Dir Mark Gearan. And Mark was NOT a former volunteer either. Perhaps that’s WHY he listened so intently. That, and his prior experience as a journalist. I wonder if we might not benefit, now with decades of experience, to assemble a Review Committee, to advise on nominations for administrative offices like PC Director, and NPCA President. I think Andy and George would applaud ! JAT

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