What Patrick Shea Has To Say About His Life and the Peace Corps (Georgia)


John interviews —

Patrick Shea
Patrick, why did you join the Peace Corps?

I come from a deeply patriotic family that was in America before America was a country. If my die-hard republican uncle is to be believed, we have family that fought in the Revolutionary War. Myself, well, my father always called me a “conservative hippy.” I have done volunteer work since the seventh grade, and had over 300 hours of volunteer service before I even entered the Peace Corps. I believe everyone should serve their community, and my professors suggested the Peace Corps, as one was a RPCV herself.

Where were you assigned?

I was a G16 — the Eastern European country of Georgia in 2016-2017.

How big was the group?

This group was large, it was right around 60 volunteers.

What was your assignment?

I was an English teacher as I had been volunteering tutoring immigrants in America for a year before I joined the Peace Corps.

What is the procedure for being ‘accepted’ by the Peace Corps? Were you interviewed and had letters of recommendation?

In 2016 the procedure was to apply online, have an interview, then receive a letter of acceptance. I was interviewed successfully, a Harvard educated professor and a professor who is a RPCV made my best recommendations. I graduated at the top of my class with honors.

After your Training in-country were you given your assignment?

We were given our assignment while in training. I was placed in Adjara in Georgia in Eastern Europe.

How soon after your arrival did things begin to go wrong for you, health wise?

Where to begin?

3 days before school started, I slipped on cement steps and landed on my back, spraining my entire back. This caused nerve damage —  there is a spot in my back where I can still feel it. I was sent to the  emergency room.

The Peace Corps doctors put me on 2 weeks bed rest and told me to perform physical therapy on myself and told me to “google it.” No further instructions. All the Peace Corps doctors did was perform x-rays on the soft tissue damage.

After 3 months at my site, my digestive tract was being eroded away by the food I ate. It was nothing but fried potatoes, and whatever had happened caused me to develop polyps. The doctors did nothing but observe and tell me to change my diet.

The family I lived with did nothing to change the food I was given. The change in my body was visible even from an ultrasound. I needed surgery, the Peace Corps did nothing. I would receive surgery 2 years later, a year after I was medically terminated.

I was screwed over by the Department of Labor and that is a whole different nightmare. A Doctor from Ohio diagnosed the most obvious problem in one day, where the Peace Corps doctors sat on their hands for the rest of my time in service. I had to have additional surgeries that were all missed by the Peace Corps.

To put it in perspective, before the Peace Corps I was in perfect health, and the only doctor I saw the previous few years was just for a yearly checkup. After Peace Corps, I spent over $6000.00 in medical bills alone. The Peace Corps cheated me out of medical care.

I spent the rest of my service in pain, wearing holes in my sweaters as I was constantly trying to dull the pain by rubbing my stomach. My book goes into much more detail. The only thing the Peace Corps cares about is getting volunteers into the country and then out, they don’t give a damn about the health of a volunteer.

I also had infections and other common problems.

I was medically evacuated after I was almost killed by one of my own students who thought it would be funny to jump me from behind and hold my head underwater.

You can read about that in my book.  I don’t feel like reliving that in detail when I have already written it out in my book.

Then I was hit with a chair by another volunteer, and then finally manipulated and abused by the Country Director when I reported the situation. I was broken as a person, and shaken to the point I needed drugs to stop shaking after his interrogation. You can read about that too.

What was the process next?
  • With the Peace Corps staff?
  • Doctors?
  • Your own mental state?
  • PCV friends?

The Peace Corps staff called me in for a “friendly chat” when I reported I was abused and manipulated by the Country Director.

The Country Director’s background was working with military intelligence in Afghanistan to hunt down the Taliban, and then he tried to recruit an Arabic speaking volunteer for the CIA while he was in the Peace Corps.

The Peace Corps doctor asked if I wanted to be medically evacuated to check out all my problems, I asked her advice, she recommended it. So, I was evacuated, I turned down the doctor’s escort.

For 120+ volunteers for Georgia, there were only 2 doctors on call. Only 2 doctors for 120 people. They have been called out on this many times, but the US Congress does not care.

Mental state, gone. I would not be the same person for years, and eventually tried to kill myself with a shotgun. I was no longer myself, and it was PTSD.

My PCV friends supported me, but I was alone on the evacuation.

When you got back to D.C. what were you told and what happened to you?

The entire Peace Corps administration — anyone I talked to about the Country Director — refused to talk to me. They treated me like a leper. Anytime it was brought up, they either left immediately or changed the topic.

When I talked to the Peace Corps psychologist, she blamed me for it and said I reported it. When I talked about the order of events, she told me we would only talk about the drowning incident and not the country director or the interrogation. The entire Peace Corps knows that this abuse happens, and they keep their mouth shut. The psychologist seemed to not care about my case.

The Victim’s Response Unit picked me up from the airport and told me they had reports from other sources on this country director. She would later tell me to report to the Inspector General. She would also threaten me by stating, if I sued the Peace Corps over this, they would press criminal charges against me. This is what the Peace Corps Victim’s Response Unit told me. This pushed me even further into despair. This is how the Peace Corps covers-up their problems.

The nurse practitioner sent me to physical therapy where the therapist missed the real problem and that would plague me for years . . .  even to this day.

The physical therapist I was forced to hire pointed out the issue the following year. In terms of my digestive track, she told me the entire time, “just wait, it will go away.” I had to have multiple surgeries because of this.

Then they kicked me out, sent me home with a broken body and broken mind. Forced me to use the Department of Labor. I spent more than my entire return stipend on medical care. I would spend years dealing with the Department of Labor and their colossal failures. The Department of Labor does not care about helping people, their job is to prevent paying for medical care. They denied so many treatments and told me they were my problems and not theirs, even when they were given evidence and documentation linking the cases. Even when something was approved, they refused to pay for it.

My life was ruined, and I put a shotgun in my mouth. I became someone entirely different, like I was chained up inside my own head. I became a drunken womanizer. I spent my life doing volunteer service, and didn’t even drink until I was 22, and valued human life. Before I went to church every Sunday for 20 years in a row. I graduated top of my class from one of the most difficult universities in America. I can barely even function now. What’s worse, some volunteers have told me to shut up when I tell this story. The Peace Corps ruined my life.

Have any of the PCVs you served with come out in support of you and talked to the Peace Corps administration?

There have been other reports filed against the Country Director, and he resigned 3 years (from my estimation) into his 5-year limit. My RPCV friends have supported me in my efforts. I am not alone. These problems have all been documented before, they just all happened to me at the same time. The Peace Corps is slower to change than the US military.

Peace Corps Victim

What is your next step, beside the book you have written, in terms of your career?

In terms of living in America, that phase of my life is over. Whistleblowers are being killed in America, or sent to prison, or financially bankrupted by the US government. The Supreme Court refuses to hear cases on Snowden or domestic intelligence gathering, and this shows how little the actual law matters in America.

Have you hired a lawyer or spoken to any government officials about the actions of the Peace Corps Staff? Are you taking any legal action?

Last time I spoke with a government official, it was a Peace Corps Victim’s Response Unit and they threatened to press criminal charges against me after I almost died for their cause. Government officials are only looking out for their pensions, even in the Peace Corps.

I am open to discussing these issues with lawyers in terms of protecting future volunteers, any legal experts or individuals who can help, please check out my website. https://peacecorpsvictim.wordpress.com/

What was your total time in the Peace Corps overseas and back here in Washington?

Training 3 months. In-Service sworn in, total – 14 or 15 months. I made it past the year mark, and even after the Country Director called sites that were not mine, he called nearby towns and villages to dig up any dirt on me he could, he failed. That is why I am an RPCV, because despite it all, I still did my job.

Did anyone in the agency — other Volunteers, Staff, or DC Administrators help you in any way by giving you support and/or advice?

The same person who threatened me was the same person who told me to report to the Peace Corps Inspector General. That was it. Nothing else other than threatening me with criminal charges. They never wanted this to become public, but they ruined my life, and now I have nothing to loose.

What are you doing next in terms of work and your life?

Inveniam viam.  (“I will find a way.”)

Are you going to bring any legal actions against individual staff or the agency?

I am open to discussing these issues with lawyers in terms of protecting future volunteers, any legal experts or individuals who can help, please check out my website. https://peacecorpsvictim.wordpress.com/

One last question. Would you recommend the Peace Corps to a graduate college student?

Only if they are wealthy and connected and have a lawyer on call 24/7.

Patrick is now back in Georgia teach. He is on his own, fulfilling his commitment to teach.


Leave a comment
  • Who was this country director?! I think we really need to get to the bottom of the alleged breach in policy if it is fact true that a Peace Corps staff member was involved in intelligence work. So far, the story has a UFO ring to it…told by someone with a blurry photograph. If true, we need some action and resolution. Otherwise, this must be debunked.

  • Patrick, I am very sorry you had so many terrible experiences while serving in the Peace Corps.

  • It is a reminder that many Volunteers have experiences that don’t turn out happily. We don’t see these unhappy experiences in writing often. My village had its share of incidents that went very wrong, but prompt action kept them from blowing up. For example, soon after I arrived at my post, an aging warrior with PTSD accosted me in a restaurant and threatened to castrate me – my white skin set off memories of his war-time experiences against Italian invaders. Quick action by some locals calmed a situation that could have gotten very ugly very fast. See


    Also, my area rep that first year, Jack Prebis, was a man of action. He swiftly interceded in some other serious incidents to steer matters back on course. The line between happy and unhappy PC experiences can be very fine.

  • Sounds like you got hit pretty bad kiddo! My own experience in Zambia as a volunteer was pretty good, altho I had a negative experience when rejoining Peace Corps post pandemic in a different country (again, medical). So I think it varies drastically between countries. There’s a strange kind of contradiction to the whole Peace Corps thing. It sounds like you racked up some trauma. I would recommend therapy and recovery as trauma is a serious thing and requires active treatment. You said you are drinking heavily which is no good…read the Judith Herman book on CPTSD instead.

    Anyway, it is possible to get your life back after one of these significant horrible instances. There is hope. Don’t let yourself become another statistic. If you’re as smart and hardworking as you say you are, I challenge you to recover from your experiences. It is only in this way that we can be taken seriously as members of society and begin to regain a meaningful life.

    Kind regards,
    Adam Bombo

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