January 7, 2004 - News Journal: Hearing on Peace Corps gets closer

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By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-19-87.balt.east.verizon.net - on Wednesday, January 07, 2004 - 9:20 pm: Edit Post

Hearing on Peace Corps gets closer

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee asked the Peace Corps to submit a report by January1 detailing how the agency handles the safety and security of its volunteers. Read and comment on this story from the Dayton Daily News on the report received from the Peace Corps that outlines a number of recent improvements to enhance safety, including establishment of a new Office of Safety and Security, increased safety training for volunteers, improving supervision of volunteers, collecting better crime statistics and authorizing 80 safety and security positions while improving management of security worldwide.

The Senate moved closer to holding a hearing on the safety of Peace Corps volunteers following the release of a 30-page report to senators this week. "We expect to hold a hearing on this issue early this year," Senate Foreign Relations Committee spokesman Andy Fisher said Tuesday. Fisher said the committee wanted the report before holding a hearing. Read the story at:

Hearing on Peace Corps gets closer*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

Hearing on Peace Corps gets closer

By RUSSELL CAROLLO / Cox News Service

DAYTON, Ohio -- The U.S. Senate moved closer to holding a hearing on the safety of Peace Corps volunteers following the release of a 30-page report to senators this week.

"We expect to hold a hearing on this issue early this year," Senate Foreign Relations Committee spokesman Andy Fisher said Tuesday.

Fisher said the committee wanted the report before holding a hearing.

In the report, the Peace Corps assured the Senate it is doing all it can to keep volunteers safe overseas.

"Every effort is made to adequately protect volunteers and staff, but in view of the global security situation and the protection of individuals' liberties, no absolute guarantees can be made," the report says. "This is true, however, for any American citizen, whether in the United States or abroad since Sept. 11."

The report and requests for a hearing come in response to a seven-part series by the Dayton Daily News, which spent 20 months examining assaults on Peace Corps volunteers world- wide.

Using records from a never-before-released computer database, reporters found that assault cases involving Peace Corps volunteers increased 125 percent from 1991-2002, while the number of volunteers increased by 29 percent. In 2002, the number of assaults and robberies averaged one every 23 hours.

The extent of the dangers faced by volunteers, the Daily News found, was disguised for years, partly because the attacks occur thousands of miles away, partly because the agency has made little effort to publicize them, and partly because it has deliberately kept some people from finding out -- while emphasizing the positive aspects of Peace Corps service.

After the series was published, Ohio's two senators asked Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, to hold hearings. Lugar then requested that the agency prepare a report by Jan. 1.

"The safety and security of our volunteers is the top priority for the Peace Corps," the report says.

"While the Peace Corps can never design or build a perfect safety system, it must do everything possible to ensure that all volunteers are given the knowledge and tools to perform their service safely and in a secure environment."

The report outlines a number of recent improvements to enhance safety, including establishment of a new Office of Safety and Security, increased safety training for volunteers, improving supervision of volunteers, collecting better crime statistics and authorizing 80 safety and security positions while improving management of security worldwide.

Among the new positions is a research psychologist charged with enhancing crime statistics, identifying trends and potential safety risk to volunteers.

The report also says the agency has put "much stronger emphasis" on volunteers' behavior, something the Daily News series linked to a number of safety problems, and the Peace Corps is working harder to develop locations for volunteers and improve communication.

Still, the report didn't address one of the key findings by the Daily News: Though many volunteers have little or no experience traveling outside the United States, minimum language skills and virtually no background in their assigned jobs, they are sent to live alone in remote areas of some of the world's most dangerous countries and left unsupervised for months at a time.

The newspaper examination found that in 62 percent of the more than 2,900 assault cases since 1990, the victim was identified as being alone. In 59 percent of assault cases, the victim was identified as a woman in her 20s.

Agency officials acknowledged they have no mandatory guidelines for how often supervisors should visit volunteers, or how many volunteers one person can supervise. Instead, decisions are left to individual country posts, which usually have an associate director visit each volunteer three times over two years.

"The Peace Corps has no data to indicate that volunteers would be safer if placed together or clustered at sites," the Peace Corps report says.

The Senate scrutiny comes at a time that the Peace Corps is trying to meet President Bush's post-Sept. 11 proposal to double the size of the agency, while emphasizing a presence in Muslim countries. But spending bills now in Congress fall about $49 million short of the $359 million the administration said was needed for the agency to expand.

Meeting the president's goal, the report says, "is entirely dependent on the Peace Corps providing a safe and secure environment during the volunteers terms of service."

Russell Carollo writes for the Dayton Daily News.

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Congress; Safety and Security of Volunteers



By bankass.com (0-1pool136-12.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Thursday, January 08, 2004 - 7:45 pm: Edit Post

Thank you Russell for demonstrating facts of the unsafe policy that is happening today at Peace Corps and has continued through the 1990's.

We have called Peace Corps, the Senate and the House for since 1996 on pairing volunteers and attrition rates. Finally, some Senators are taking notice. 31 volunteers going to so called friendly countries is too many. I don't care what an RPCV who has a positive experience says. They did not experience a rape, a threat of their personal safety or have been lied about by the agency themselves. The policy is dangerous, callous, and a planning debacle. It should have been done years ago then some of these incidents wouldn't have happened.

Go ahead and try your sneaky politics and try to slip through this new ill fated plan for safety that wastes money on Administrators of safety and not the volunteer on the ground. (The volunteer who is in their twenties and out there alone, part of the fifty nine percent of victims)

For you Senate staffers who are in your thirties and forties, remember you have never let us speak about our experiences with Peace Corps. You only speak to the National Peace Corps Association who has done nothing in the direction of safety of volunteers and has the same people who served during the 1990's on its staff and board who weren't listening at the time and still have deaf ears. Remember, you have friends and daughters going into the Peace Corps. They are mainly going to Muslim countries where high attrition rates have occured at Peace Corps. Do you want your daughter out there alone? Or do you want a know it all Regional safety officer who will not do much for safety.

Try getting this one by. If you put more folks in danger and don't secure a quality program we will go toward a national campaign on television to stop reckless policy. The military doesn't even put people out their by themselves unless especially trained.

75% percent of volunteers serve with another volunteer it won't hurt the program and will reduce safety breeches.

By ANONYMOUS (208-186-103-172.dsl.csolutions.net - on Thursday, January 08, 2004 - 9:36 pm: Edit Post


By aka (0-1pool136-58.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Thursday, January 08, 2004 - 9:58 pm: Edit Post


By limbo (pm2p7.cwdom.dm - on Friday, January 09, 2004 - 9:31 am: Edit Post

bankass.com, where did you get the 75% stat.? Was if from the GAO report of 2002 or some other source. i'm a current PCV battling admin for s & s reforms. please tell me where & how I can get access to this info.

By daniel (0-1pool136-11.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Friday, January 09, 2004 - 9:54 am: Edit Post

There are many places you can find it. However, one place I believe off the top of my head is the Early Termination Report done in 1997. Let me think and look back in my notes. I have other sources.

That early terimination report was done by Peace Corps themselves and you can get it through the FYOI Officer at Peace Corps, its a general report. However, there are more places.

Also, I want to know you are legitmate. call me with your name, your country of service. I don't feel right communicating with someone who is not on the up and up. I have had alot of backlash for this fight that has gone on for 14 years. So be up front please. call 978-462-3868 if you are out of the states have a relative call.

Tell me how you are challenging the unsafe policy and I can be helpful with more information and experience.

By Nijma (66-2-46-145-chi-04.cvx.algx.net - on Friday, January 09, 2004 - 8:28 pm: Edit Post


If you really are a current volunteer, think again about whether you really want to battle the PC on safety and security issues right now. Unless you have a senator or a lawyer in your family, here is some advice I learned the hard way.

If you have a current ongoing safety concern, do not tell your office. They have more ways to retaliate than you can know. Talk to other volunteers, talk to the host country nationals, and talk to the host country law enforcement. Get your host country people to handle the problem. If you need a translator, think of this as an opportunity for your language tutor. Do not, do not, do not discuss your problem with Peace Corps.

If you have unresolved health problems, and your medical officer is too busy looking for "problem behavior" to address your medical concerns, think about going to a local doctor, faith-healer, public clinic, or whatever to get treated at your own expense. Although local treatment can be problematic, I have never heard of anyone getting burned by this; host country nationals may be getting better treatment than the volunteers. Do not tell your office. Better yet, if you can afford it, go stateside during your leave and see your own doctor.

If you write to your congressman, the letter will probably be shared with Peace Corps.

If someone tells you a survey is anonymous because you don't sign it, think again. I filled out an "anonymous survey" and was identified.

The serving volunteers truly are in limbo. There is literally no one they can turn to. They deserve better.

By bankass.com (0-1pool136-19.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Saturday, January 10, 2004 - 7:54 am: Edit Post

Nijma and Limbo,

Nijma, I am glad you posted this. I get wrapped up in this stuff and didn't really think about a volunteer would be in country and fighting them on the safety issue.

Nijma is right. Until the Peace Corps changes in many areas with volunteer rights, you will have a problem in engaging them about these issues. They are very sensitive about these subjects because of their inept approach to safety policy. Nijma is right. They will retaliate eventually if you fight them on real specifics and statistics that they don't want to discuss. Njima is also right about needing a Senator or a lawyer on your side.

I spent two years researching the laws before I even presented my case "pro se" by myself without an attorney. I had to, because the statues would have run on my case. I have filed twice now in Federal court. It may sound strong but I can tell you it has been "no picnic" and I don't suggest this method, unless you don't have any other resources.

Also, about having a Senator on your side. Yes, Peace Corps does get nervous with a Senator on your side especially Senators who are
committees where the Peace Corps budget is located. But you really have to a have Senator's trust and the staffers trust. Personally, I knew Paul Tsongas and he recommended me for service. I also worked for him. That has helped on getting information and assistance on the hill.

As you know, Paul was a volunteer. Senator Leahy has been helpful too. In 1993, he and his staffer nearly proposed our budget for Separated Peace Corps Veterans to be funded directly from the Congress to serve the third goal. Unfortunately, the staffer changed and so didn't the Senator's position, because of the staffer.

Also, Nijma is right about Congressmen and Senator's sharing information with Peace Corps. Your concerns will be squelched like an "ant". Peace Corps has so many friends in the Congress they think they can get away with literal murder. So tread lightly. Take it from my experience. In my home state, Senator Kennedy is not on my side in this issue. Neither is Senator Kerry. They just send my information to Peace Corps. They try to make it appear as if they are on my side, like after 9/11 sending two packets to my house via priority mail two days after. They know we have real concerns with Peace Corps and how convient it arrived two days after as if they were behind me all the time. Yea, Senator Kennedy is friendly, but he is not going to walk in the Peace Corps and fight them tooth and nail for my job back and Peace Corps knows this.

However, I have other Senator's on our side right now. Like I said, I will provide information when I know are you are a real volunteer. Peace Corps staffers and other RPCV folks write phony postings and are not on our real side for safety and security. You are called "Limbo". I need a name place and country.
We are currently working on the hearing process.
It won't come until spring.

For your situation immediately, take Nijma's advice. I don't agree with every thing he or she writes, but I would say I agree with eight percent of what he or she writes. One thing you also could do is be a fictious person needing help on these issues and ask us on line to us and other volunteers. If its on-going, ask our advice on line when you can. Stay as limbo if you want. I told you, you can call. I could call you too with appropriate information.

I know it sounds arcane. But, Peace Corps knows they aren't doing enough on the ground and the volunteer is on their own.

The Inpector General of peace Corps says they help volunteers, but they are on the side of the Administration so are the Safety Officers. They safety officer could be your worst nightmare.

Are you serving alone? If you are fighting them on this particular point and you want to be assigned somewhere in a pair and they won't do it, then definitely call us. We will "try" make sure the country you are in has pairs. I have a friend who can call Peace Corps headquarters directly and "try" to make them do it. Give the partuicular country etc... It is too bad we have to use the word "try".

If you are battling them with numbers in country, it just will not work. They won't listen. So keep in contact with people who have your best interest at heart here on line, volunteer friends, in country friends, Host family etc...

I will be able to give you better advice when you indentify yourself.

By Nijma (dsc06-chc-il-209-109-233-33.rasserver.net - on Saturday, January 10, 2004 - 11:30 pm: Edit Post

Eight per cent? Thanks, Bankass. And I don't agree with having two volunteers on a site. But seriously, this is not our decision. Limbo may have no choice but to fight PC on safety and security. I didn't. Or maybe Limbo is acting on behalf of someone else.

The important thing is to come back alive. If someone is in a dangerous situation, they need to get to a safe place now, and not wait for PC to fill out the triplicates authorizing them to leave their site. But watch your back.

One technique I saw used effectively is to have the protection of a host country national with "clout". I have some reservations about getting mixed up in the internal politics of a country you're supposed to be a guest in, but again, it's your safety.

By daniel (0-1pool136-6.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Saturday, January 10, 2004 - 11:49 pm: Edit Post

Eighty sorry I missed spelled it. Daniel

By bankass.com (0-1pool136-36.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 8:06 am: Edit Post

Limbo, I have spoke with your friend. We did not have time to speak and I am very busy. The other source I have got this information was from the office of the Director when I was in contact with them during 2002. Since then Peace Corps has officially tried to retaliate in the US against our efforts and against me personally. They lie about me to this day in the public too, so don't think anything is confidential with Medical personnell or the Director of the Country.

One question, since, I know you are a legitimate person. Are you alone at your site? What are the safety issues you are concerned with?

Are friends of yours alone and don't want to serve alone? We have contact with lawmakers in many Senator and Congress person's offices to pressure Peace Corps in particular situations if you are serving alone against your will, in a safety breech situation. We can communicate through your friend who has communicated with us.

It may take a about two weeks but if you tell us where we will get on it.

By bankass.com (0-1pool136-36.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 8:37 am: Edit Post

This is why we need hearings. 31 Volunteers have been killed have died or our missing since 1997. And 2,285 plus victims of violence at their site. Additionally, a large percentage of these people have been shunned from Peace Corps, "have blamed for their attack", are not getting proper medical care and are still fighting back with Peace Corps who continues to lie about their service records. How many of the families from the Community college bunch will you hurt by sending people out alone to serve and then casting them off? I'll bet you will give them special care because it is this administration's "pet" project.

These hearings did not come over night and without tremendous struggle. The biggest struggle was overcoming the fight from other volunteers and RPCV's in the Senate and House who have not experienced this type of situation and purposely try to suppress our concerns. I guess the 125% increase in violence from 1997 to 2002 has enlightened a few folks on the hill. Peace Corps retaliatation against victims of violence, rape, and threats against us as American citizens is incredible and must be discussed in the Senate and House to get our own resolutions to their concerns without the National Peace Corps Association or anybody else speaking on our behalf.

I encourage Tony Hall's call for an Office of the Ombudsman or a lawyer working on behalf volunteers and families. However, I want a lawyer or special lawyer to work for us appointed by the Congress to work on our cases for the next five years to reconcile these cases.

To Victor Carrollo, Congressman Meehan, Senator Voinvich and Dewine and the many other volunteers who have told their stories such as Kristy Lord and Karen who both served in Bolivia and to the many others such as Separated Peace Corps Veterans who have been calling your Senator's offices and Congressional Offices demanding changes at Peace Corps. Thanks Daniel

By Nijma (dsc02-chc-il-209-109-231-175.rasserver.net - on Saturday, January 17, 2004 - 3:43 pm: Edit Post

"A" lawyer? Only? We need an entire department independent from Peace Corps or Homeland Security to define, research, and work these issues. We are doing this work as best we can right now as volunteers, although we have other obligations, because we understand the value of volunteering and the necessity of effective oversight.

Volunteers do not have any rights. Not the right to safe housing, not the right to medical privacy, not the right to informed consent to medical treatment, not even a flag on the coffin. If the Peace Corps had listened to the volunteers who were telling them about safety problems at their sites and told their salaried program development staff to fix the problem or reassign the volunteer, no one would be talking about attrition rates or two volunteers to a site right now.

The volunteers need much more than just "a" lawyer. We need an independent office not beholden to Peace Corps that will be an advocate for the volunteer, conduct meaningful, confidential post-service and other surveys, and make measured policy recommendations.

By Joanne Marie Roll (joey) (cache-da08.proxy.aol.com - on Saturday, January 17, 2004 - 11:35 pm: Edit Post

Serving volunteers are not government employees and so they do not have civil service protection.
They are not workers with a union and so they don't have that protection. In addition to an ombudsman and/or independent advocates, I believe that volunteers should have personal service contracts...spelling out mutual rights and responsibilities and guaranteeing due process. For example, I believe volunteers should not be placed alone, without their informed consent. Right now, that decision rests with Peace Corps, not the volunteer.
Contracts would give volunteers legal status and some power because they would put the force of law on the side of the Volunteer. I would hope that the presence of a contractual relationship between the agency and the volunteer would help prevent the kinds of problems caused by arbitrary administrative actions.

By Ron Seibel (cache-da08.proxy.aol.com - on Friday, January 30, 2004 - 1:06 pm: Edit Post

In the June 1993 DC Staging for Kaz 1. it was suggested the ladies (or men) purchase "body alarms." Those little battery operated boxes that attach to a belt, which pulling a pin activates.

The PC Staff response: Don't you dare buy body alarms, it will "insult" our host nation.

Lack of a body alarm allowed one of the ladies to be raped.

Peace Corps puts IMAGE above SAFETY.

By Daniel (0-1pool136-1.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Saturday, January 31, 2004 - 6:18 am: Edit Post

Separated Peace Corps Veterans (all separated Veterans who have been separated medically, administratively, and have early terminated.) These are all Veterans who have sworn in as Peace Corps. This group also represents the interests of the families and volunteers who have perished in service. We are not a 501C, but with Congressional funding we can be.

Our rights and needs as American citizens who have served in the Peaec Corps that are not being met by US Peace Corps. (These proposals will not make everyone content, but it is a start.) This group is not affiliated with the National Peace Corps Association and don't want to be at the moment. NPCA has not advocated for us in the past and we would rather be funded directly to fund our own projects.

We seek direct funding to protect our rights in Safety, Attrition Rates (Separations) and Health Care for Volunteers and former Volunteers. In all three areas, GAO reports have been produced, but not much has been done to solve the problems:

1. (Placement and Prevention Policy) We want the Congress to make policy or a mandate that two Volunteers need to serve together in a given village to prevent death and safety issues of volunteers. Peace Corps has refused our requests for the last eight years and 86% percent of the victims of violence were alone at the time of their attack.

2. That Volunteers and Separated Peace Corps Veterans have an attorney or attorneys working for their rights in separtation, safety and health issues. ( As suggested below by a Former Peace Corps volunteer we need more than one attorney we may need a separate organization set up with a team of attorney's or department). An ombudsman's office doesn't ensure volunteers rights.

3. That Peace Corps creates a Conflict and Management office so that volunteers have a forum to resolve their issues with the agency so they can serve again or serve the third goal correctly. This office would demonstrate that Peace Corps is really for Peace throughout the world even within its own family. This Conflict management office could be a model for training in country staff and other bilateral Peace negotiations throughout the world.

4. A GAO Report is done in a comprehensive fashion to study all aspects of separations from Peace Corps over the forty plus years of Peace Corps. This study should include a poll done to see how these volunteers are serving the third goal of Peace Corps.

5. That Separated Peace Corps Veterans have the same rights of Return Peace Corps Veterans. Or our service is given points toward Federal Service based on the months served and not based on your given country director. These points could be used by the Fellowships program, Non Competitive Federal Positions,and other programs in post peace corps incentives. (Many volunteers who are in difficult situations stay too long, underreport or don't report a perilous or unsafe environment at their site in order to receive these benefits putting them at risk. When change the incentive structure you eliminate the risk of unsafe policy.

6. Attrition Rate Reduction: That Peace Corps makes it a priority to reduce separations to 5% as a goal.

7. That the Congress implement a policy that any volunteer who is considered missing have an on going investigation funded by the Congress which includes local private investigators of the particular country. A three year funding budget should be allocated.

8. That Volunteers have the right to choice their own Doctor that is registered with the AMA in their Medical Cases.

9. That the Department of Labor and Peace Corps make a coordinating office which provides information on FECA benefits, faciliates claims faster for better reimbursement for health of Volunteers and former volunteers and that this office hires volunteers who have gone through these situations so they are empathetic to the families and volunteers in need for health care. Since Peace Corps has not been able to do this over the thirty years fund us to provide direct advocacy for the "volunteer and separated Peace Corps Veterans in these situations".

10. Employment Development: That Separted Peace Corps Veterans are either provided with funds directly in a Guaranteed Grant USAID or the Congress or are provided the same rights in receiving benefits after service such as non competitive eligibility or fellowships for further educational pursuits.

11. That Separated Peace Corps Veterans are funded directly with a seven million dollar budget to help improve the above problems at Peace Corps.

12. That Memorialize Plagues or agreed upon memorials are presented to all Peace Corps volunteers who have persihed in service. Military Veterans get this right for every soldier. We have served too. These memorials should be duplicated one for Peace Corps headquarters and the other for the volunteer who has died at their home site.

By Nijma (dialup- - on Thursday, February 05, 2004 - 3:07 pm: Edit Post

Thank you, Joanne. The civil service, union, and contract models need to be considered for how they could be applied to volunteers. I have been kicking around these ideas for a long time without knowing how to articulate them. HCN's in Islamic countries are used to seeing foreigners with contracts, and I sense surprise and a diminished level of respect when I tell people I did not have one.

Ron, the PC issued key chains with whistles to volunteers in at least one country in 2001. I have not heard any feedback about it since. I could have used one once, but was able to muster some language skills on the spot and fling enough ungrammatical outrage to attract a crowd, whereupon the stalker melted away into the crowd and I melted just as quickly in the opposite direction. A volunteer I served with was taught four different ways to say "don't touch me" by her HCN family, but I had to settle for "What's wrong with you," which is primarily a health inquiry. The language component of training is one area in which more safety tactics could be incorporated quickly, but it would need the active participation of HCN trainers to avoid giving offense.

Daniel, you have said it all. This is exactly what we need. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

By daniel (0-1pool136-86.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Thursday, February 05, 2004 - 10:53 pm: Edit Post


You have written alot on here and difintely care about safety and security of volunteers. I don't know you, but there are hearings coming in the spring. If you want to contact me with some of your ideas feel free to contact at 978-462-3868. I know you may not agree with me and others on some of the issues, but your input is definitely welcome.

By the way, thanks for the comments about a department or many attorneys. Daniel

By Beth Yehaskel (cs24343-87.austin.rr.com - on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 4:03 pm: Edit Post

I feel as though I might be stepping into a snake pit here given the tone of these posts, but I have my own opinions that I feel warrant the same attention as everyone elses.

First off, let me preface this by agreeing that safety can be improved and should always be a focus. I also feel for those who suffered injustice as a product of their PC service.

That said, I want to address Daniel's list of proposed changes in PC item by item.

1. I personally would not have wanted to be placed with another volunteer at my site - I accomplished a lot in my community and feel like I wouldn't have been able to get nearly as involved with the community had I not been alone. Aside from that, what would the logistics of this be? Would volunteers share housing? This would mean pairs would have to be same-sex to avoid other cultural problems. Would two women living together be a bigger target? Would the belongings of two Americans in one house be a bigger target for robbery? If they didn't live together, would that really ensure safety? They would still be alone a lot if they weren't living together? It's easy to say that something needs to be done, but the details have to be addressed.

2. Would these attorney's be part of PC? If so, would RPCV's really feel as though their interests would be cared for considering that the attorneys would be on PC's payroll? There would be a conflict of interest for PC to pay for attorney's to persecute them, obviously. I'm not clear on how this would work. Please help me understand.

3. I think a conflict management office is a great idea. This office should have staff devoted to helping RPCVs or PCVs get the support they need, deal with issues remaining in country, work with families of volunteers who have passed away, and help volunteers with remaining/continuing medical issues. I think this is great.

4. I'd like to hear more about specifically how you suggest this GAO report be set up and how the information be gathered.

5. This is tough. Some PCs are separated for reasons that maybe don't warrant them receiving the same benefits as those who completed service. I agree that there are probably lots of volunteers separated for reasons beyond their control who SHOULD receive these benefits. Perhaps this needs to be handled on a case by case basis, using a set of guidelines.

6. I think reducing attrition to 5% is unrealistic. We lost more than 5% of my training group just in training, only because people were homesick and didn't know that they didn't want to be there until they got there. I agree that reducing the attrition rate is something to work towards, but I think its important to be realistic about why many leave, and to set goals that are equally realistic. Perhaps reducing to 25% is more attainable and takes natural attrition into consideration.

7. I think setting up a system for investigating missing volunteer cases is good, though I'd like to hear more specifics. I think you might run into issues with the part that "includes local private investigators." We can't impose our logic on country nationals or on the legal systems/police systems of these countries. This also might have to be organized on a case by case basis. But it seems realistic to me.

8. I assume you mean choosing their doctor when they are in the states. We have to consider the fact that medical insurance issues are a mess here no matter whether you have insurance through PC or some private company, but I think that there should be a way to come to some effective compromise that all sides can handle.

9. Again, people to help with FECA and such seems legitimate. We also have to understand that any government agency will have tons of red tape, so in terms of "faster" reimbursement, PC might not have so much control over this issue.

10. Employment Development: Again, same comments as above. I think this needs to be case by case.

11. Hmm. Again, for separated volunteers to have a separate budget and funding..this needs to be case by case. I don't think separated RPCVs should get more funding than those who COS'd. That is not to say that they shouldn't get the same funding/advantages.

12. Memorials are good.

I'd like to discuss one other point - I have no interest in this debate other than I am an RPCV who has been upset by some accusations that my research has shown to be inaccurate. I also don't feel that my experience is one that is being represented in this debate, and my experience is more reflective of a "typical" experience (that is, a positive one). I am not suing PC, I don't work for them, and participating in this debate isn't furthering my life or career in any way. I'm wondering what everyone else's motives are. Are some people looking to take PC for money? Do they want PC shut down? Do they want to embarrass PC in an tit for tat kind of way? Because one obvious point is this: By consuming PC administration time with hearings and court cases, and by attacking PC in a way that pushes the organization to defend itself, PC is forced to take funding, time, and staff away from other aspects of the organization and put it towards all this. Instead of working to improve safety here and now, PC has to respond to hundreds of requests for information from reporters, prepare for hearings, and address legal suits. I'm hoping the attention will help make PC better in the end, but I'm disappointed in the way it has happened and wish a more productive and respectable dialogue had taken place that would reflect better on all sides. Maybe that kind of dialogue can still happen.

Beth Yehaskel

By daniel (0-1pool136-132.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 9:46 pm: Edit Post


Appreciate your service.

You are very thoughtful and I appreciate the time and consideration you have taken to post something regarding Separated Peace Corps Veterans issues we want addressed by the "people of the United States".

Beth this is only the beginning of adressing issues related to Separated Peace Corps Veterans and our rights as Returned and current volunteers. The Congress is not only way to go. We have not begun to raise money. That is the next step if the Congress can't support all our concerns. The people who were victims of violence in service, volunteers who were railroaded out of Peace Corps on whimsical beliefs of adminstrators, medical personnel, the Director, or any other employee of Peace Corps and families who have lost a Peace Corps volunteer must get their rights respected and we intend to get those rights.

The motive is to obtain the justice volunteers and their families deserve without "fear of reprisal from the Agency". The Time Peace Corps and the program has to take to go through these hearings is based on years of "covering up" through a systematic process in safety and separations. PC has kept sweeping the deaths of volunteers under the rug, they have swept victims of violence under the rug, they have swept wrongful separations under the rug too. They have never addressed one of these cases properly. If you know of one, you should document it for the historical record.

The goal is a better program without "discrimination or fear of reprisal from the agency". Believe me, the administrators know how to play unfair and cheap. Now, that we are being heard PC is crying about the program. Who is Peace Corps? It is all of us on equal footing and we are US citizens just like anyother volunteer.

There has been no communication from Peace Corps on these issues. 31 Volunteers killed, died or missing because of poor planning in safety since 1997. 2,800 victims of violence since 1997. How many were wrongfully separated or underreported? Peace Corps signals are all hostile. They blame volunteers for their own poor staff and cracks in the system. They must own the responsibity and will. Until they do, the program will continue to suffer in safety and attrition of volunteers.

Women should not have to describe their rape or assault on web sites to get justice or peace in their cases.

Volunteers should not be thrown out of Peace Corps by administrators fabricating a separation.

Volunteers who have safety concerns should be able to voice their concerns without the fear or reprisal or head shrunk by PC administrators.

Families of fallen Peace Corps should have get the respect they deserve for the son,daughter or mother they have lost. Respect can come in money relief, memorials, funding for that given volunteers work in their respective village.

Since 1993, we have been bringing our concerns to the hill. Peace Corps has not addressed them appropriately, therefore we are serving the third goal by bringing our experiences to the American Public. The law making body is the best place to start especially with what has happened.

I blame myself for not pushing harder between 1995-1999 to bring these concerns to the hill. When Peace Corps did not even respond to volunteer deaths, I thought of the volunteers who have died and for the victims of violence who have not had their voices properly heard. We will, now get the changes, we have needed accomplished without "sweeping our issues under the rug."

To address your points on our recommendations.

1. Most separated volunteers agree with placing 2 volunteers in the same village for safety purposes. They wouldn't be required to serve in the same hut, compound or area. I appreciate you served without incident. 86% percent of victims of violence were alone at the time of their attack. When 75% already serve together putting the rest of the 25% percent in the same village with another volunteer is a better idea for safety purposes and preventing victims of violence.

2. No, the attorney or attorney's would not be part of Peace Corps adminstration, that is a conflict of interest. These Attorney's would be funded by Congress directly as a group. Peace Corps has 7-10 members of General Counsel. We should be on equal footing so Peace Corps can't run over volunteer's individual American rights as a citizen, thus volunteer.

3. Thanks

4. GAO Report is called by any member of Congress on Returned Volunteers to demonstrate that a certain population of Peace Corps Veterans are not signigantly seving the third goal. It may demonstrate that out of the 170,000 that we are a minority of the population of Peace Corps. But, it does finally check out how Peace Corps is meeting its goals in general. There are records of most volunteers at the national Archives and the GAO is the only Agency that can do this investigation. There will be people in this report not represented Peace Corps during the Nixon administration some records were destroyed.

5. All Volunteers have served and deserve the right to get points toward further Federal Service or the benefits provided. Discrimination is not an option. I agree with some volunteers who have completed service shouldn't get some better benefits but not to get anything is out of the question. That hurts the program and promotes "one upmanship and talking poorly about your colleageues after service". This example is one of the worst sides of the Peace Corps culture today. Volunteers should help one another move ahead in life. To say a voluteer does not have value and their contribution is slighted, doesn't help development or Peace.

6. 5% is not unrealistic. Its a goal. When you set the bar high all people can achieve it especially volunteers who are some of the brighest in America in my opinion. When the program doesn't systematically separate or discriminate, make poor site selections, plan poorly, don't fund a volunteers work or provide needed support, the program doesn't have a quality aspect to it.

7. Thanks

8. Thanks, Yes back in the states and a second opinion. Any AMA Doctor.

9. Feca is out of control. It must be changed and taken under Peace Corps control and volunteers who have gone through it should be in charge.

10. Employment development: All Separated Veterans should get employment as a group because we don't now. We are discriminated against systematically as a group based on the Peace Corps system now for referring jobs.

11. We should be awarded funding directly from Congress to fulfill the third goal and provide a check to the agency in separation cases. We are not in a competition we are getting the funds we should have been allowed under Peace Corps system even now. Since, Peace Corps doesn't want our experiences heard or valued we should be provided funding to develop from that point in our life. We have the same goals as RPCV's and we all want to be involved in development again or get upwardly mobile jobs after service so we can contribute to America signigantly by using our Peace Corps experience.

We should also be funded to help families who have lost love ones memorialize their service properly.

I have doubts on dialogue. Peace Corps knows our numbers. They can call us to repair the damage. The Peace Corps can bring healing to the safety and attrition rates. That is their choice.

Of course I have been we are disappointed in the way this process has worked too.

The Motives are a better program and that all Americans feel safe about sending their son,daughter, father or mother in service with Peace Corps. That they can be assured that our contribution is valued without discrimination or fear of reprisal from the heavy hand Peace Corps has shown so far.

The Consuming of time is for the victims and wrongfully separated over the years. 31 People because of faulty planning and a system of hurting the volunteers who are the program, not the adminstrators.

Remember all the irresponsibility. Remember your colleagues and it is something to learn from not "cover up".

Solutions have not taken place. Peace Corps' federal staff and the NPCA could have brought solutions to these problems years ago.


We welcome Peace Corps' positive steps to healing the past to make the program a better place and to acheive their recruitment and expansion goals. Because we loved our service to in our own way.

By Beth Yehaskel (cs24343-87.austin.rr.com - on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 11:30 pm: Edit Post

Thanks for the response. You make a lot of good points, but I'm going to press you further. If you are in fact addressing these issues with the government or in a court, than you must be prepared to respond a bit more fully to some points then you did here. You must also be careful about some of your blanket statements - you implicate yourself when you make sweeping generalizations.

First off - you didn't answer any of my questions about the pairing of volunteers. Regardless of who supports this idea, my questions had to do with HOW this can happen effectively. To quote my earlier posting: "what would the logistics of this be? Would volunteers share housing? This would mean pairs would have to be same-sex to avoid other cultural problems. Would two women living together be a bigger target? Would the belongings of two Americans in one house be a bigger target for robbery? If they didn't live together, would that really ensure safety? They would still be alone a lot if they weren't living together? It's easy to say that something needs to be done, but the details have to be addressed." Please elaborate on how you see this actually happening in the real world, not on a piece of paper.

Second of all - you speak of 31 deaths as though you understand the circumstance of each one, and as though all were unjust and the fault of PC. My friend is one of those 31 you lump into this category. I doubt you know the circumstance, and my firsthand opinion says that it was handled well on the part of PC. I know that Russell Carrollo tried to get some of my fellow volunteers to speak ill against PC and blame them for his death and they wouldn't - thus no one ever read his story in the series. It didn't serve the purpose of the series to say that PC handled ANYTHING well. I'd be careful using his death now to support your own argument. You will get called out and your points invalidated, and there will be some parents of those 31 willing to stand up in defense of PC. If you wish to argue with someone who lost their child, so be it, but then don't speak about disrespect. It's hypocritical.

With regard to attrition, again you didn't seem to address my point. How can 5% be a realistic goal if, as I said, we lost at least 5% to homesickness? That doesn't make sense. I'm all for setting goals high, but lets be practical about it. We also lost a bunch of people at the halfway point who simply felt like they were ready to go back to "real life." It doesn't make sense to pretend like PC can prevent that natural attrition from happening.

Forgive me for having to ask, but I'm uncertain who is categorized as "separated." Are these people who got sick and had to leave? People who opted to leave for various reasons? People who were uncomfortable with being in a third world country and dealing with corruption and dangerous circumstances and left? I didn't realize that there was such a movement of separated volunteers who have suffered so much injustice. I did know people who were unjustly separated, but I also know people who were justly separated. But you don't speak of the latter group. If I recall correctly, as someone who COSed, my benefits included:
A grossly inadequate stipend once I returned.
Discounted health insurance for my first 6 months back (which I paid for with my stipend).
The option to be "preferred" for a government job. But I didn't want a gov't job so I didn't use/need this.
The opportunity to apply for a handful of fellowships for grad school, none of which I wanted, so I also didn't use this.

I'm not saying this is all nothing, but honestly, it didn't feel like much to me at all. So forgive me if I'm confused by the huge emphasis on the "discrimination" you feel. Heck, I felt discriminated against looking for a job after PC. Everyone wanted to hear about PC but nobody could figure out how my service translated into working back in the states. So I had no job for a long time and waited tables in New Orleans. Should I blame PC?

I'm not denying that you feel you suffered. But again, I'm just trying to figure out where that elusive chalk line is that separates you and the other "discriminated" volunteers from me. It seems I can't win - I had a good PC experience and felt that in the 2 years I gave PC responsiblity for my health and safety (and also took personal responsibility for myself) they did a great job. Yet if I step to the defense of PC, I get attacked by those who had bad experiences(who are, in fact, the minority). I'm not saying the PC has never done anything wrong, but how can it be right and just to only give one side of the story when there are so many like me out there? Why can't we voice our experiences as loudly as you without being attacked, and why can't we all help PC learn from both sides so they can improve overall? Isn't it as important to learn from situations they handled well as it is to learn from situations where they messed up?


By daniel (0-1pool136-38.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 7:12 am: Edit Post


You certainly can respond. I will respond to this today. Thanks you really are a "pusher" in a good way. Thanks Daniel

By daniel (0-1pool136-38.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 9:06 am: Edit Post


We are not going to spell out everything for Peace Corps to see. They don't spell out everything they plan to do either. In 1993, we wrote a thirty page description of the discrimination tactics Peace Corps utilizes to separate volunteers. We broke it down as Peace Corps does using twenty five years of their IG reports and GAO Reports written on separations.
One of our main points is that Peace Corps deliberately divides these separations into categories to mask the real numbers of attrition, discrimination against these volunteers and to break down their gleaning of volunteers in categories as if their it is a normal occurence. Despite, what other other volunteers and former volunteers feel these practices fire people from service. That is what we are trying to avoid. We are helping Peace Corps understand their systematic discrimination practices.

There will be a natural attrition rate, but 5% percent helps administrators with their attitude toward firing folks through sneaky tactics, through Medical services, through administrators just deciding for themselves that a person should be fired because they don't like them personally, and hundreds of other circumstances. It is a good goal.

Yes, people will leave early, but if the program is good and their project and work is quality orientated then more people will stay. You know Peace Corps can do better than 25% percent.

first responder: I am ansewering your questions. I know you served alone. But so did many of the people who have gone through a safety breach. Just as an example, so you don't think I am speaking for someone else. I am a big and I believe I can stand up for myself too. But the night which I confronted people who directly to my site threaten me, I would have liked to have someone their who was a volunteer. My site mate was not their that night. It was three of them with a gun. That sucked. On top of Peace Corps then tells the Public I was seeing things or characterizes me the way the feel is convient. Now, we see it has happened to volunteers over the 1990's other than myself. On top of that, there are thousands who have gone through similar cases. We are lumped together because it happened to us Beth.

Responding to sharing a site. It is safer in pairs in a village. It is presence and it would reduce violence against volunteers and it shows unscruplous individuals we are not alone out here. The details can be worked out by Peace Corps but the requirement would be two in the same village or geographic area. 1.They would not have to share housing, unless they wanted to. 2. Two people is better than one, even in a same sex situation. 3. You would not be tide together at the hip, but that increase communication would ensure safety, but because Peace Corps wants to hold individual freedom over the safety of volunteers they choose to place people still in dangerous areas.

Peace Corps makes general sweeping arguements to promote their unsafe policies too.

2. Are you one of the El Salvadorian group? When I place the 31 volunteers together, you know, I don't like talking about these grim realities. But when Peace Corps has responded with inaction and arogance, it needs to highlighted because they have not responded correctly. Yea, there going to be people who disagree with me, but Beth their are alot of people who have died or been killed who I believe could have been avoided. Did you know Victor Carrollo just won an Award for Ethics in Government reporting. He won it because many people know their are RPCV's who work for newspapers who won't print the facts of the victims of violence. He broke that silence. That is why people who are RPCV's are upset. Peace Corps should have started doing the right thing, better planning in placement years ago.

I was even told this by the Boston Globe. The Washington Post, Al Kamen is a reporter their and has a alot of influence on what gets published. He is an RPCV and he disagrees with us from all the indicators we have gotten over the years.

What is unfortunate is that it had to be highlighted at all. It is that culture of blame the victim and did nothing wrong and cover up that has finally been exposed.

Calling people a hypocrite is easy. By saying that you have a person who disagrees with me is one thing but to dismiss our concerns in that manner doesn't need to be responded to. The Hearings speak for themselves.

Separations are defined clearly and to break it down is like Peace Corps effort to dilute the attrition problems with "sick", admin sep, left early because there was nothing to do, no support at site, evacuated; then separated based on so called job performance, so they (PC) can say 45% attrition rate is normal, no, that must me stopped and that is a form of systematic discrimination. No organization is like that. If it is, its sick at the top.

Discrimination in the job area: It happens and that is one of the reasons someone who is in an unsafe environment doesn't want to report their situation because they see what has happened to some of us. They know Peace Corps will put the "black ball" on your service, so they don't report and that has hurt the program. If you want an example my number is here and I will tell you one, 978-462-3868.

Personally, discrimination does happen directly in Peace Corps headquarters in their Personnel office. Until those changes take place nothing will be solved. Separated Veterans are denied jobs with Peace Corps because their experiences are not valued properly. This transcends into the development world, USAID and State Dept..

Take for example the time Senator Leahy intervened in 1993 on behalf of myself. I had applied for over seventy to eighty jobs with Peace Corps and documented about 50. I brought them to his office and our proposal for funding Separated Veterans due to discrimination. Senator Leahy's office told Peace Corps, What happened here, he has the background, not even an interview". Because he served on the Foreign Operations Appropriations Committee Peace Corps that day started calling my home for all kinds of job interviews. That demonstrates the corruption involved in the hiring process.

Oh, I did interview, apparently, I came in second fo the job.

This is not about me though this is about safety and improvement to the program so someone who is twenty two is not treated like this.

Beth, people who are SPCV's are afraid of Peace Corps power. Look at what they have done with my case.

Twelve pages under so called National Security. Give me a break. Who are they protecting? Why can't I answer to the person or person's determination on my case? Who are they Gaddi Vasquez, who never served in Peace Corps or Mark Gearan, who never served to make judgements about what I experienced at my site? They weren't there and no one at Peace Corps was there that is why they cover it up because it is a fact.

Instead, Peace Corps to start making things up, destroying people's characters such as in rape cases, "that it appeared she wanted it". That kind of crap needs to be stopped.

Why did Thomas Tyghe recusse himself from my case as General Counsel?

This is my circumtance but there are thousands of other cases. People should not have to go through this type of thing when they served and volunteered.

Believe me, alot of people are calling me with their concerns.

There is no chalk line to divide us up. Its about people's rights as American citizens getting trampled. Its about safety in the field for volunteers.

I have ansewered many of your questions. Peace Corps has exhausted me too.

I will respond when I can the next time.

I appreciate your time. Peace Corps and other volunteers and adminstrators can keep attacking and questioning. That is the nature of bringing up comfortable circumstances.

We are colleagues and always will be through our experience and I think we should start to understand we are working for the fallen, the victims and our future colleagues.

By daniel (0-1pool136-38.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 9:23 am: Edit Post

oops mistake. Carrollo is finalist for an award. I hope he gets it. I don't agree with everthing either or methods but sometimes you need to detail the graphic and grim so people get it.

Do you think people like my actions during this process? No, but when your rights are violated you would definitely respond in a challenging way.

Just look at the way you have challenged me, you certainly have fight in you. Just think if you were in my shoes, if you were, you would probably be an attorney by now yourself.

I appreciate your concerns and participation. You seem like a very bright woman.


By Beth Yehaskel (cs24343-87.austin.rr.com - on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 1:27 pm: Edit Post

OK - you put a lot of information in that post. Let me continue to push for more clarification.

Regarding pairing of volunteers. So from what you wrote here, you had a site mate but were still the victim of violence when your site mate wasn't there. How is this supposed to show me that two people at a site makes anyone safer? You were in a pair and it didn't help your safety. Convince me why this is a good idea, because you just accomplished the opposite goal - that pairing doesn't help anything.

When you talk about Peace Corps choosing to post people in unsafe areas - I feel compelled to point out that by definition, the third world is unsafe compared to what we're used to. That is a fact, one clearly stated all over the PC website and in the materials they send to volunteers before they ship out. Therefore, bringing this up is a poor argument. If that is an accusation against PC, then I have to question why anyone making that accusation signed up for PC in the first place. They clearly don't know what "third world country" means.

Regarding this comment from you: "When I place the 31 volunteers together, you know, I don't like talking about these grim realities. But when Peace Corps has responded with inaction and arogance, it needs to highlighted because they have not responded correctly." You're still lumping my friend into a false category for your own purposes, which I find offensive and I bet he would too. Stick to those cases you know the details of, and whose families support your opinion, and use THAT number, but don't use all 31. PC DID respond correctly in at least one of those 31 cases. You're going to have to deal with that reality, even if you don't like it.

With regard to your pursuit of a job - I can't tell you how many jobs I've applied for that I thought I deserved and was qualified for and did not get. In many cases I didn't even get an interview. When you bring up that experience as part of your argument, my immediate thought is that perhaps there were simply more qualified applicants than you. You can't know that there weren't, and for your own sake, I'd stay away from including this in your ammo against PC. It only makes you appear that you simply couldn't handle the possibility that you weren't the best qualified for a position. It doesn't do anything for your credibility, and makes you look like you just want to "get back" at PC for hurting your ego.

Carrollo is up for the Harvard Kennedy School Award for Integrity in Journalism. This is an outrage to me. Integrity in journalism should mean that a reporter is educating people in a fair and balanced way. He educated people using a very narrow view, and took advantage of the general public's lack of knowledge of PC to sensationalize basic differences between third world countries and the US for the sake of a shocking story. YES, these incidents occurred, but the spin he put on them, and the fact that he focused only on a small percentage of PCVs experiences and insinuated that these are "normal" is inexcusable to me. He deserves an award for manipulation, perhaps, but not integrity.

And as for the hearings, I have to question the manner in which things even got to that point. Ms. Hopgood, one of the coauthors of the series, spent a lot of time in DC to make this happen. She fostered relationships with Senators from Ohio who aren't even on the committee, and got their support to help push this through. I have to question her motives here. From where I stand, I can see that this series would be a better candidate for awards if it "inspired" a hearing. I find it hard to believe that the authors have the interests of PCVs in mind, rather than the furthering of their own careers and resumes. It's politics in journalism, Daniel, and the fact that there is a hearing and that they're up for this award only tells me that they know how to play the game. Heck, if I worked the hill that well, I could get a hearing on something too. This, to me, doesn't add any legitimacy to their article.

Again, YES there are safety issues and PC has made mistakes, but there is a perspective that is missing here. There is an entire side to the story that the series didn't address and that you seem to be ignoring as well, at least from where I'm standing. Overall, the PC has a good track record with the 170,000 volunteers who have served - that is a fact. YES, there have been regrettable incidents, and unjust situations. But if you're going to tell a story, you HAVE to tell the whole story, otherwise you're just manipulating people for your own purposes. If I ignored your story and the others that Carollo published, and only touted PC as a perfect, golden institution, I'd be guilty of being one-sided also. But I'm not doing that. YES, they need to improve. They need to clean up house and take care of loose ends and perhaps issue some apologies if appropriate. But they are not the all-evil, massive conspiracy that you seem to want them to be.

I appreciate your dialogue with me, and the fact that you let me push you further and further with my questions. I'm merely trying to get you away from the dramatic, passion-filled statements that dilute your argument so I can get to the meat of what you're saying. I'm also hoping to provide you with a little point of view from the other side of the fence. In order to win a debate, you MUST be as knowledgeable about your oppositions perspective as you are on your own. Otherwise, you're dead in the water.


By daniel (0-1pool136-62.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 2:11 pm: Edit Post


when my site mate was threatened in the middle of the day a boy came across the village screaming for me. I came and my site mate was being threatened physically until I confronted him. There is an example.

Poor judgement is the kind of put down that is not appropriate here. Safety never became an issue on their web site or information until four years ago. You are going to disagree with me no matter what. Too many have died or been victims and that is poor judgement on behalf of the agency.

I gave you and example of job discrimination. It happens to many separated veterans. I really don't care if it look bad for me. Who do I have to impress at this point in life. Its about the younger people applying and serving.

You say its passion filled. These are facts. 31 Volunteers have been killed, died or missing in service and 2800 plus were victims of violence. Those are facts, that is a population of former volunteers, how are you helping getting their experiences correct in front of Peace Corps and the general society?

You would be surprised who is working the hill on these issues. Carollo started this along time ago. I think they both should get awards for exposing corruption.

Beth they have ignored us and victims forever. We want the memories and experiences of volunteers who have had these problems corrected.
We are correcting it regardless of how Peace Corps wants to handle it at this point.

Oh I know the opposition and we will have them in the hearing too, believe me. We are ready.

Beth, there alot of positive I have to say about Peace Corps and I talk about my profound experience most days. I know there are alot of goods folks in Peace Corps. It is not a conspiracy, it is a system that is broke, and it keeping tripping good folks up.

If you knew me you would know my perspective I am not going to spell it out until the day it counts.

That's it I need to go do my work. Daniel

By Beth Yehaskel (cs24343-87.austin.rr.com - on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 6:49 pm: Edit Post

I'm encouraging you to try and educate me with facts and details and explanations - you choose to bow out by making assumptions about me. You say that "You are going to disagree with me no matter what." That is not true - it's a cop out on your part to make that assumption about me. Just because I ask hard questions doesn't mean I won't listen to the answers. I'm challenging you to formulate stronger arguments and add more substance to what you say.

I am trying to create a dialogue that makes a difference. I held my friend's hand after her attack and spent a week with her. I was the one asked to stay with my friend's girlfiend after he died in her arms. I cried that whole week when I was alone and at his funeral. I understand injustice and things going wrong. But I also see the value of putting some emotions aside in order to get at solutions that make sense, that aren't a product of my own frustration, and that will make present and future volunteers safer. I don't happen to think Carrollo's scare tactics and sensationalist stories did present or future volunteers any favors - but if he works the system right he might get some statues and some checks out of it. Congrats to him.

If this discussion is too intense for you, then I wish you all the luck in the world when you go up against people in the government or in a courtroom. You will certainly need it.

By daniel (0-1pool136-27.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 7:51 am: Edit Post

Its not a cop out. I have very little time. It takes me some thought and more time to write something with substance. Plus I don't want to put facts out their that others will distort.

I have told you I don't want to spell out details so that "people who are heavily against our efforts" such as the National Peace Corps Association Memebers,Board Members and Members of the Peace Corps today.

If, I get to know personally, I will share it but not on the web. After the hearing, I will present it.

We helped get those hearings and it was our arguements with numbers, Pictures and facts. Our package has had alot of impact on the hill. We had alot facts and details Carollo and Hopgood didn't have. Every office on the hill relative to Peace Corps has it.

The proposal we put out has lengthy explanations to each one of those proposals. Many are based on some of the proposals brought in 1993 and further GAO reports and IG reports that were put out by Peace Corps through 1993-2003.

I know you think I have weak arguements. You are very bright and I sure you are a sucess at anything you do. As you can see, I am not perfect and I make mistakes in writing quickly. I am emotional. I don't apologize for that. Like you, I am "outraged', at the way Peace Corps has handled the people who given their program time in their life.

Peace Corps is a big agency with alot of friends and their are alot of folks who don't want to see us get our points across. They think the separation system is just fine. I don't and many of the people who call my home who explain their separations and safety breaches as well as fears of joining the Peace Corps don't either.

You have implied that I want the Peace Corps, "shut down" and "take from their so important time and money".

I encourage people to serve. But, I let them know who the General Counsel is, the Inspector General, their rights as volunteers and I tell them if the Peace Corps put you out their by yourself, refuse the assignment. If it becomes a problem demand you serve with another person. That is my personal opinion and that is the advice I give. I tell them to use my name and they will change their tune.

It works because people in the agency knows they made a mistake in my case and many others.

I also tell them to call me if they have any problems in service, anytime.

I have thought about your situation of taking care of your friend. It must have been a horrible situation. Was your friend Mr.Amador?

You have my number.

By Beth Yehaskel (cs24343-87.austin.rr.com - on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 4:20 pm: Edit Post

Well, perhaps we've hit a point where the potential for a productive discussion is out the window. I have to wonder based on some of your comments whether you're even reading what I'm writing. I never implied that you want the Peace Corps shut down - I asked you directly what your motives are, and whether that is one of your goals. It's one of my many direct questions you haven't answered.

As far as who my friend is, I'd prefer not to bring his name or circumstance into it. I'm not a family member and its not my place to go into it beyond my own emotions and feelings.

I suppose that the bottom line for me is that I can't get on board with your approach for making a positive difference. You have sued Peace Corps, attacked them repeatedly on nearly every message board on this site, spoken out publicly and repeatedly against them in other forums, and you seem incapable of conceding on even a single point. You give the impression that until PC does exactly what you think they should, you will never stop thinking ill of them. I am well aware that my logic can be flawed and that my proposed solution to a problem might not always be the best one, but I don't see that in you.

Maybe I'm wrong about you, but I only know what you've shown me. Best of luck in your endeavors and in finding whatever it is you're after.

Beth Yehaskel

By RPCV ( - on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 6:46 pm: Edit Post

Daniel - You really should pay attention to Beth's messages and seriously consider her suggestions for communicating your concerns and proposals -- i.e., if you are going to formally testify and want to leave a positive and impactful impression.

Just a few quick comments, from a RPCV and former staffer (there are numerous RPCVs serving in staff positions):

Re: Micro-legislating/micro-managing through such requirements as "two PCVs at every site" ... This would compromise CD/staff's and PCVs' abilities to exercise judgement in developing the most suitable programs. Personalities and situations can vary so much that such a placement mandate would hardly resolve outstanding safety problems.

Re: The percentage of PCVs who were alone at the time of an incident as mentioned frequentlty in your posts: This statistic doesn't reflect whether or not these PCVs had site mates. It reflects that they were alone - whether by choice or by some other unfortunate circumstance - at the time and place of the incident.

Re: Early terminations. There are four types: (1) resignation; (2) admin sep; (3) Medical sep; and (4) interrupted service. Admin and medical separations involve many procedures and are heavily documented. In my years on staff, every one of the potential admin seps chose, as is their right, to resign in leau of admin sep.Resignation surveys are collected from staff and PCVs. Resignations are what most PCVs and many staff refer to as "ET"s, even though ET is actually the all-inclusive term. Resignations are voluntary. You need to know this, as it would aid you in making the right requests for data. The ET rates include all of these categories. Perhaps you could request a break down, as this information is regularly collected by region and by post. It's all clearly explained in the headquarters and post versions of the PCV handbooks.

Re: Ombudsman - Recommend seriously pursuing this ... it could be very effective.

Please avoid lumping all staff/RPCVs who disagree with some of your comments and proposals as "being against" volunteers' safety or without sincere feeling for those who've been victims. I knew very few staff and PCVs of the thousands that I associated with over the years who were incompetent and uncaring.

Yes, the tragic disappearance of the PCV in Bolivia was the impetus for the recent GAO investigation and the new PC safety and security program. The GAO report contained valid criticisms. PC has responded. The new program isn't merely adding bureacracy - although perhaps too much -- it is also adding substance and training to staff and PCVs at post level. You really should review the new S&S program and PC's response to congress sans your anti-PC agenda. There wasn't much new in the latest response, because PC was already implementing new procedures. However, progress reports should be required.

By daniel (0-1pool136-105.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 9:35 pm: Edit Post

Thanks for your posting. You were very constructive. You make alot of points which are very valid. The ET examples were very insightful and I had not thought of it from that perspective.

I will read the other reports. I have already read some.

I have taken your advice and Beth's advice. I plan to be less emotional if given the opportunity. You are right. It is hard for me personally, not to be emotional, sometimes with the amount of problems, my own case (which I plan to stay away from), and running into antagonist types who don't realize the seriousness of our concerns or could care less about Peace Corps itself. If I get the chance, our proposal will be presented as positive as I possible can ,given the circumtances. (no promises)

I am not and I feel many who are separated veterans are not anti-Peace Corps or against RPCV's. Yes, I will try to make an impactful impression on a positive note.

As you know, there are even Senator's who disagree with our concerns. I know there are many RPCV's on the hill and some are on the committee's as staff people. I have found many to be very refreshing when speaking about these issues. Thank god some are there.

Thanks for your posting.

By Daniel (0-1pool136-24.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Saturday, February 14, 2004 - 7:58 am: Edit Post


You wrote this above and I assumed you were lumping me in with the motive idea. You certainly have something against me for suing. That is for sure.

You may have disrespect for people who sue in general. Beth, if you had your civil rights violated, would you sue or would you walk away? You don't sound like the type that would walk away but again I could be wrong.

I am nice person from a small town who joined the Peace Corps. I had a great service until the last couple days and most importantly (where my civil rights were violated)in Peace Corps headquarters in medical services.

Until you know the circumstances, I don't think anybody should come down on anybody who does not know the facts of a particular situation. This is an area we disagree. You write, "I didn't realize that there was such a movement of separated volunteers who have suffered so much injustice. I did know people who were unjustly separated, but I also know people who were justly separated". How many were justly separated and what were the circumstances? Also, I think the hearings demonstrate there is a movement toward a better Peace Corps in terms of Safety, Health and Attrition Rates. I think it is clear.

Devastating Impact of separating a "Volunteer".

I know people aren't perfect and many volunteers in the Peace Corps are young but any type of separation can be a devastating event for someone to go through. First, you are shunned by your colleagues, then you are shunned by society in your government record, and you as a volunteer signed up and volunteered for this type of abuse? Peace Corps may have implemented these types of procedures years ago, but it doesn't mean, it is a just system. Peace Corps was not created for administrators to separate people, it was for the "volunteer", "the people in a particular village and for the American People".

Also in my case, Peace Corps has had 15 years to ammend records, meet with my family, go line by line through my file, heal the past, they have had every opportunity to remedy my situation. They have chosen not to.

How many have they chosen to do this to?

Peace Corps has chosen to do this to many people. Most walk away from fighting back because it is like challenging "town hall". In most cases, they go away into America unheard from again, the way Peace Corps wants it. These people served too and are part of the Peace Corps family, no matter how RPCV's and former adminstrators view them. Their positive contribution should be highlighed no matter what the circumstances.

Beth, you write about these improvements Peace Corps needs to make or time to make the improvements. It has been 15 years from the time I served and all the way back to seventies and beyond for some others. You write about loose ends getting cleaned up. It has been 30-40 years they have had to "tighten up loose ends".

I write about my personal situation because you imply that I should not challenge the Peace Corps. That my approaches aren't your type of methods. Almost all people, who have been separated unjustly don't have "true rights in challenging Peace Corps for their positive experiences". Yea, if you are wealthy, you can get a high powered attorney to fight back.

Well, my family is not rich or wealthy so I have done what I have had to do in my personal case.

Again, this is not about me. Its about "Fear of Reprisal". Its about having "rights as a volunteer". We are the program, not people who have wrongfully separated us.

In terms of Safety, the "fear of Reprisal" weighs heavy on Volunteers in the field". For many volunteers, the incentives of Peace Corps service wiegh out in their determination to serve and volunteer. For people to serve and volunteer and then get trampled, it doesn't help any of us.

Many volunteers want me talk about my positive experiences. Many RPCV's just want us, as separated volunteers to overlook Peace Corps huge problems and move on.

The problems of Safety and Attrition Rates are what we are focusing on. Carollo, has said, to paraphase, "he only wanted to focus on the problems". From my point of view, When you indentify the "problem", you can move toward solutions. Peace Corps has refused to focus on those problems. There are no solutions and it has created an "atmosphere of injustice" .

These problems include all the GAO reports and their Inspector General Reports for the last thirty plus years on health care, separations, and safety.

You may think what you want, about my approaches over the years, but you have not walked in my shoes either. I don't think I am right about everything, infact, I am a very humble person, in general in life.

However, when it comes to this situation, I will not back down. Why? Because any young person going into Peace Corps from a small town deserves all the rights of any american citizen. They should not have to go through the experiences many of us have gone through.

I have ansewers to your questions, direct ansewers, but I can understand you don't want to talk about it. You don't like my approaches to problems.

But because you have said, I have sued, spoken out and will not concede a single point. You write above that everything in life isn't on paper. I have also told you I would rather not discuss some of the details on the web. That is your choice, not to discuss these ansewers. But, if "you" truly want ansewers, you know my number.


By daniel (0-1pool136-6.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Saturday, February 14, 2004 - 11:01 am: Edit Post

To the RPCV and staffer above,

I have one comment that needs to be heard loud and clear.

It is not micro legislating or micro managing, the two volunteers at every site.

In my opinion and I have been supported with facts (86% percent alone at the time of their attack) that it would "reduce Safety Breaches" because there would be the presence of another volunteer.

In 1996, a volunteer's mother, whose daughter perished in service made the pairing recommendation to then director Gearan and your staff friends. They refused to learn from the experience.

Results and numbers: You want statistics, don't you, numbers. Peace Corps says there are no verifiable data on whether people would be safer if they served together. Here are some numbers for you. This is playing fair because they are facts.

Here are some statistics for you, the Peace Corps and Beth.

31 Volunteers have perished in service related to safety issues.

2,800 Plus victims of violence.

Millions and Millions of dollars spent on Macro safety preparadness, planning, training etc...

86% percent were alone at the time of there attack. I know you can try break that down into, how many were serving alone at their site and other circumstances.

If this is what you call Micro Legislative issue or Micro Managing issue, I can't understand you? Human life is important you know.

If it is so micro, why is such an issue on the hill with the hearing process and why did the DDN raise the issue?

The reason why it is Macro issue is because Peace Corps experience is for all, and if a certain portion of its population are dieing in service and they are serving alone, then I would say that is the number one problem with safety.

Since you guys throw out questions and try to dillute serving in pairs. I will say this. It is my belief, that at least half the volunteers who have perished had a site mate they would be here today. If you can save one life with prevention then the whole goal and policy is worth the effort.

Verifying preventative measures has always been hard to prove throughout history. However, 2,800 plus people is alot of folks and especially when they are in a specialize field and working for the government.

It is just as important as your multi million dollar safety plan.

By the way, The State Dept Regional safety officers who will be "looking out" for volunteers. Will they be required to indentify themselves to the volunteer and the mission of their particular safety "micro managing visit"?
This question needs to be raised.

I may sound mean, but I have made a commitment to myself, other volunteers that I will not stand by and watch while more volunteers perish when I know the number one problem to the safety and having a site mate.

Its not about me, its about that twenty two year old who goes missing or dies in service relevant to a safety breach. That is my motivation for being so hard on this issue. I owe it to them and so do you. Those are my moral beliefs on the issue. I wouldn't say that is so selfish. Some people have a problem with Morals over money on budgets. I am not saying that is you. But some do.

But, just because a volunteer serves alone and doesn't have a bad experience that you have to make the Peace Corps experience unsafe for others. I know that will get you folks upset, but I think its more than you and me. Its about putting yourself in a person's shoes who is going through this situation and really thinking your opposition to it.

No more, "holes", in the safety plan in the field.

By Beth Yehaskel (cs24343-87.austin.rr.com - on Saturday, February 14, 2004 - 3:26 pm: Edit Post

Wow. It's amazing how easily you flip between perspectives, Daniel. From agreeing with some of my points to attacking me again. It's a challenge for me to keep up with, but heck, I'm in it this far, so...

I am not against people who sue. And as I mentioned the last time we had a debate like this on the other posting page, I don't know the details of your situation so I have no opinion about whether your decision to sue is a good one or not. I'm merely bringing it up because suing, by nature, is a negative way to bring attention to a problem. Sometimes it is the only way, but again, I'm not familiar with your situation. I brought it up when I was talking about your consistently negative approaches to dealing with your issues.

Now to address this quote of yours: "First, you are shunned by your colleagues, then you are shunned by society in your government record..." I know for a fact that during my time in PC, we NEVER shunned anyone for leaving either due to separation or by choice. We admired people for choosing to go, and we respected the situations of people who were separated for medical or other reasons. If you didn't have this experience, perhaps it has more to do with the kinds of people you served with. And as for being shunned by society - I have many friends who didn't finish service for a variety of reasons, and I know for a fact that they didn't feel "shunned by society" or by me as an RPCV who COSed. When you draw everyone into your experience using terms that insinuate this is "normal" for all separated volunteers, you are invalidating your whole argument. I KNOW people who you're including in your group who didn't have this experience, which diminishes your whole argument.

As for the numbers you cite on the next post. Here's a flawed statement of yours: "31 Volunteers have perished in service related to safety issues." THIS IS WRONG. Again, I mentioned my friend who is among this 31 whose death had nothing, nothing at all, to do with safety. Will you again chose to ignore this fact and continue tossing this number around?

One last comment, concerning this statement of yours: "I have ansewers to your questions, direct ansewers, but I can understand you don't want to talk about it. You don't like my approaches to problems. " Allow me to speak directly. No, I don't like your approaches to problems. I think your arguments are weak and flawed, your research is inaccurate, and you redirect to broad, sweeping generalizations instead of responding to direct questions. You have not answered my questions. You still haven't answered ANY of my questions concerning the details of how pairing volunteers at sites would work. You haven't answered my questions about what specifically you want all your efforts to accomplish - do you want people at PC to get fired? Do you want funding cut? Do you want a job? Money? Do you want PC cancelled altogether? I can go on and on, requoting from my own posts to show questions you haven't answered.

I am a supporter of PC, and I'm also a supporter of improving safety, security, and volunteer rights. I'm not a supporter of slander, vindictive attacks, or revenge. During this entire dialogue with you my purpose has been to try and understand where you're coming from better, to see where the rationale lies. But you forsake discussion for assumptions, attacks, and generalizations which don't help bring me to stand by your side. Even if I agree with things that you say, I'd rather stand by someone who is trying to accomlish those goals in a calm, logical, and effective manner. You speak of "holes" in safety plans, but I'm talking about "holes" in your arguments.

Maybe you can try to see the difference.

By daniel (0-1pool136-7.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Sunday, February 15, 2004 - 7:59 am: Edit Post


I must really bother you.

31 Volunteers have been killed, died, or are missing. I have never said they were all related to safety and those are "your words if you want to get particular". Don't distort it. ( I should write it in Bold letters, then I would be yelling on the internet, then you would accuse me of being emotional again.)

I am not yelling at you. Like words you use, "Like, you are wrong". When people say you are wrong to another person. I always question whether the person is really right or wrong. I am not wrong in the way I write "killed, died or missing". You certainly don't like those numbers, because I sense you think that number is too high too. You wouldn't be responding if you didn't care and know too many people are falling victim.

Out of the people who have, "died", (grim and awful as it is) some should not have, if Peace Corps had done the right thing. Take for example the woman who returned from Ghana and died at thanksgiving at home here in the states due to Malaria. "Peace Corps did not do a proper close of service blood test on her". Everybody who returns from service usually gets this. Again a medical service problem or short sighted practice at medical services. I do know the particulars in this case. Peace Corps gets nervous because it is a potential "wrongful death suit".

Mistakes are made at Medical Services and they have not been corrected, despite other volunteers who come and say they were had great health care. The Congress's auditing arm, the GAO has written numerous reports recommending changes to medical services, they have refused and the system continues to "limp" along firing people unjustly, violating the civil rights of volunteers, don't focus on quality of care in Washington, D.C. and finally proper counsel on their health care rights after service.

As for flipping as you accuse me of. I wrote to the RPCV above in a nice way on the perspectives I agreed with him on. However, the next day, I was able to highlight the negative side of his arguement with I assume you agree, because it relates to your disagreement with me about two volunteers mandated to serve together.

I did not really attack him, I point out the facts. You just don't like the way I present my facts. It sounds negative to you.

Like the suing, it sounds negative to you, so you say, "go easy on Peace Corps". Peace Corps as institution has gone after my character. To some degree, you don't like me either because of my disagreement with Peace Corps. They went after me,first, they have gone after my friends too, and because other have had great experiences they use them to highlight and continue to say many of us are negative. I wouldn't be on this discussion board if I did not like Peace Corps.

Its free country. I present facts and some don't like them.

It was Peace Corps fault in my case and thousands of others. Why? Because they have administrators who make faulty assumptions, attack people are not Peaceful and then try to get away with it.

My challenging of Peace Corps (you call them attacking) are based on facts. Have they repaired my case? No That is a fact. Have they repaired cases, who rights were violated or cases were carried out with whimsical and abitrary actions to a volunteer's service? No. They have not helped a whole general population of people, who served Peace Corps. Is the Peace Corps arrogant about it. Fact, Yes.

Beth, Peace Corp's actions that are not in the best interest of people, will not be met with positive "back rubbing". No, in order to obtain rights we are standing up to "them", the people who were and are negative with us. Yes, I am one of those people. Peace Corps has not played fair for years. We have gone the positive route, we have been rebuffed, put down, and alienated.

The RPCV above and former staff and you want to "break things down" in terms of numbers. Do you know when you break these "things down" they are people. Humans like you who are sensitive and analytical like you. For example; out of the thirty one who were killed, died or missing, our proposal includes memorials for people who have passed in service. We are honoring their service no matter what the circumstances.

The RPCV and staff person knows and you know, attrition rates are too high, but you want to break it down, cut it up like Peace Corps does. However, we are saying no, no more discrimination, no cutting us up, no more put downs, we served too. Many of us served and were victims of violence and Peace Corps blantantly discriminates by firng us, casting our service in false light and discriminates against us as a group.

Ansewering your questions: I ansewer by saying I would discuss it on the phone, but you seem to be afraid to call. Ooops, there is a little humor for you. Those ansewers would be direct.

I will ansewer your questions unrelated to our proposal and some of things you assume I want done. Which are not true.

Do you want funding cut? No, I want an increase in funding, "if alot of concerns are met". Until then, I feel it is unsafe for 4,000 more volunteers allocated for service. I think there should be alot more funding, when our cases are dealt with correctly and the past is remedied. Is there money involved in these cases, perhaps there is some for some cases, yes. Not in the millions but some.

I feel by highlighting the importance of these problems to the Congress and people of the US, the attention we deserve, all of us Peace Corps volunteers we be recognized with proper funds. But, expansion without quality is not a program worth working or fighting for.

Do I want a job? I always am working and looking for a job. That is a pretty open ended question. A Job relevant to Peace Corps, I am not sure, if it meant working toward remeding the past and a conflict management office, maybe.

Most importantly, I want to look for a job in the government and government contracting and be able to write in the space under have "you ever been fired from a job". I want to write, "no" and explain away my wrongful separation and relive it, over and over again, then ultimately get discriminated against because I can't get a security clearance because a few thugs came to my site in Peace Corps service. Yes, that would feel better.

Unrelated to money: In my case, I want a letter formally adressed to my family, not me, for the pain they have caused in my case. Yes, I want that. If it takes my whole career,court cases, whatever, I will get that letter.

Money? I don't know. I don't feel very well about lost opportunity due to my separation. As you know, a judge has already issued a statement in court that it appears I have wrongfully denied FECA benefits for the last 14 years. However, there is catch and I won't go into it. Like in the past, I and we need a lawyer in these cases. If I were to get Money, it would not be used specifically on myself, I would use it for people who served in Peace Corps, more for Separated Veterans but also for RPCV's as a resource in job development etc... I don't want to get specific. If we talk I would tell you.

Do I want it cancelled or shut down? No, but if it goes unsafe and violates volunteer rights from Administration to administration, we will be there around the corner.

Do I think SPCV's should get funding over RPCV's: I think we both should get more funding. I do divide us up. We are different and even Peace Corps divides us up in the benefit package with an implication. I think an adequate system is points by months of service with a larger bonus for the person who completes like it is now. (however, there is a qualifier to that, that we have attorney's on our side, so we are not wrongfully separated or our service interuptted by a wrongful separation.) That is my personal belief and not the group's thoughts.

I try not to slander people most days. If you call my type of approaches attacks so be it.

I have asked you to call me for the other ansewers which I have said I will not discuss on the internet. You refuse to entertain that request. So, it is not true, that I am not direct, you are stubborn and want to be right, so guess you are, you win, young lady. (Just kidding)

I guess, according to you I have "no rationale".

Funny thing is I must struck a nerve so that we have had some dialogue.

(I know, I know, you are right, I am one sided, bias monster, who only sees one side of an arguement.) No, that is the way, I think you are portraying me.

The facts are you have responded and according to you, you have won the arguement, Congrads.

The reality of Peace Corps today not responding and creating an atmosphere of fear, injustice and dread will be addressed and from my perspective the victims of violence will get their voices across.

Thanks and again, I guess we can agree on one thing we agree to disagree. (No, but you may find some fault in that logic too and then say,no we agree on some things).

I think you should stand behind that person you want to stand behind. Whoever that might be?

I have listened to you and your points have been registered. If you want to pile on some more, which you probably will, but you love the "snake pit" fight, that is a fact.

Remember Peace Corps has been tit for tat and "blames us" in a wrongful manner for our service in many cases.

Have a nice day,


By Beth Yehaskel (cs24343-87.austin.rr.com - on Sunday, February 15, 2004 - 2:49 pm: Edit Post

Actually, you don't bother me at all. This is a fun, if not very challenging, conversation to be engaged in.

I don't even need to use my words to respond to you. I'll just use yours.

You say:"31 Volunteers have been killed, died, or are missing. I have never said they were all related to safety." And yet in the post you wrote just before that you say: "31 Volunteers have perished in service related to safety issues." Facinating.

You also write:'so you say, "go easy on Peace Corps".' The funny thing about that sentence is that you're quoting something I never said. You just made it up, and put words in my mouth. Is this a tactic you use in the courtroom as well?

You write: "To some degree, you don't like me either because of my disagreement with Peace Corps." I don't not like you. I don't even know you. But I think you do a poor job of presenting an argument. There's a difference between not liking a person and not liking something that someone says. I'm not surprised that, as you say, you've spent 15 years on this and are still trying to be heard. You have some good things to say, but you bury the good points under lots of muck.

Another instance of you putting words into my mouth for your own purposes: "The RPCV above and former staff and you want to "break things down" in terms of numbers." Also, for the record, I don't appreciate being lumped in with people/groups who I don't know. I don't know their perspectives, they don't know mine. Don't assume I'm in some kind of cahoots with another person who is posting or with former staff.

Here's something that again insinuates that you're not even reading my posts. You tell me: "For example; out of the thirty one who were killed, died or missing, our proposal includes memorials for people who have passed in service. " If you go back and look, I responded to this specific point when you brought it up the first time, and I wrote that it was a great idea.

You write: "I ansewer by saying I would discuss it on the phone, but you seem to be afraid to call." The only reason I'm not calling is because I want you to answer these questions here, in a public forum, so that other people can read it also. It is funny to me that you think I'm afraid of you. Thanks for the giggle.

This is a good line of yours: "I try not to slander people most days." We all appreciate that, I'm sure. Keep up the heartfelt effort.

Another interesting distortion of reality: "I have asked you to call me for the other ansewers which I have said I will not discuss on the internet. You refuse to entertain that request." You never asked me to call. You did write in one posting, "If you want an example my number is here and I will tell you one, 978-462-3868." And you wrote, "You have my number" in another. Those don't sound like requests to me, but clearly we have different communication skills.

The bottom line Daniel, and the whole reason I'm even bothering to spend my time on this board with you, is that regardless of the issue, the important thing is being able to defend it accurately and effectively. I do agree with some of your points, believe it or not. But as I pick apart your arguments, it only goes to show how poorly constructed your arguments are. Again, I'm all about volunteer safety and security and volunteer rights. And I think it's tragic if your posts represent the best efforts on behalf of those issues. A loud voice is only worthwhile if what it has to say is strong.

Despite the gravity of the subject matter, I've definitely enjoyed this banter.


By daniel (0-1pool136-56.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Sunday, February 15, 2004 - 7:23 pm: Edit Post


Thanks for your input and I have learned from you, despite your constant critism.

I am sure you will post again when I say something you feel is weak.

We all have different skills.

Thanks for the 15 years comment. You did hit me where I live on that one. Believe it or not, I have tried on many occasions in a thoughtful way to reconcile my situation with the agency. They have chosen the hostile reactions and as you know they are good at it.

You never mentioned it, but I did ansewer some of your questions, but not the ones on the proposal. All in good time. I guess you just want to post your reactions.

I am not going to banter back tonight, I will need to rest the body and mind tonight.

Perhaps, you could help me by pointing out some of the good out of the "muck". Apparently, I need someone to clarify my poor judgement. (kidding of course)

The subject matter is really grim and at times it wears on me to discuss it.

I probably should have said, "31 have perished in service relating to health and safety issues." Would I be correct in saying that? I know, I know, that isn't fair.

In the coming weeks, we will put be putting together and re-writing more of the proposal which is over thirty pages. I will take some of your points and try to clarify some of our points adding your concerns. If you don't mind? I am asking you?

The above proposal was put out on the web because of the trouble on the hill related to safety and someone wanted it that day. That was the quickest way to communicate a brief, on solutions we seek. Now, I am glad I put it out there because I wouldn't have had your insight.

I had a good day, my niece was 4 today. Just for couple of hours, I going to try to savor those moments. I'm going to listen to some Johnny Cash, San Quentin and Some Dylan, Shelter from the Storm and Hurricane.

There is a favorite quote from a movie actor, I enjoy, "if you first don't succeed, lower your standards". Just kidding or course.

You have to admit, this web site is excellent for communication on issues related to Peace Corps. Hugh Pickens deserves a load of credit.

Got to run,

I hope you have a good week,


By Nijma (m115500.cuppa.uic.edu - on Wednesday, February 18, 2004 - 12:01 am: Edit Post

I am grateful for Daniel's passion on this subject, the PC has a long history of intimdating people who speak out.

Some notes in response to RPCV and former staffer's thoughtful remarks:


no teeth, can only make suggestions, protection from arbitrary actions is needed.

Early terminiations-

I have long wondered how often volunteers resign in lieu of separation. Of course if they do that, they don't get to go to talk to DC. If they do go to DC, they have just used up their plane ticket home. Very handy way to avoid listening to the volunteers. What is really amazing is that about twelve volunteers every year DO opt for admin. sep., and Washington DOES have to listen to them, for three jet lagged days, at least. It looks like at least twelve villages per year are being made safe for volunteers in this way.

I wonder how many forced ET's there are--I had an idea there were a lot in my host country--and how many have to do with safety issues. Of course, the volunteer who ET's, like the volunteer who is admin sepped, does not receive readjustment allowance, and may end up penniless on the streets of their own cities.

It would be particularly insightful to see how the numbers compare for Islamic countries. I suspect we have a lot of work to do in this area.

Two PCV's on a site-

Ideally, a volunteer should be living alone in a village and have been adopted by a family or neighborhood system that is willing and able to protect her or him. This isn't always possible. Ideally staffers should be able to use their "abilities to exercise judgment" to do good things. That hasn't happened or we wouldn't be talking about hearings. That is why we need to look at numbers like attritions rates and medical rates for "stress" related actions, as a previous report so aptly documented.

Obviously, if the program in a country has 2 people in a group of 50 who do not finish their two years, this system isn't broke and doesn't need to be fixed. If, as apparently is the case in a number of Islamic countries, there is a 50% attrition rate before the first year, that country should be micromanaged with a grapefruit spoon.

Volunteers with safety problems are not being reassigned. Staff just tells them there are no other open positions, (although they may have 50 people scheduled to COS), make up some lies about them, and abandon them. There is no way DC can check up on this from a distance before it happens. After it happens, the only thing they can do is support the CD, who after all, is a political appointee. The only thing we RPCV's can do is stand on the principle of two volunteers on a site in order to get them reassigned.

Finally, look at the PC response to the GAO report. Read all three million pages, if you can stay awake that long. It is just for show, as are many government documents. It does not reflect the mission, goals and values of the Peace Corps, or show how safety is integrated on a day to day basis. Instead, we have a lot of doublespeak about coordinating with other agencies.

The only specific practice mentioned is towards the end, when it says that volunteers are now prohibited from traveling within the country without advance permission. So much for allowing the volunteers to use their "abilities to exercise judgment" to respond to safety situations.

This reminds me of the latest "safety" idea that went the rounds when I was in-country. Someone decided that traveling was a huge risk, so a memo was circulated to volunteers in several countries instructing them to check bus tires before getting on. In most villages, the same bus makes a trip to a larger town, then waits to fill up before returning to make the trip again. So what does a bad tire look like? And what is the volunteer supposed to do? Wait until the bus goes to its destination and returns several hours later to see if the tire has improved? I was once on a bus with a flat tire, and while the nice Moslem ladies and gentlemen stood politely on the side of the road and talked on their cell phones, I decided to call attention to myself and inspect the bus tires, as we had been instructed. I couldn't tell which tire was flat.

I thought the person who wrote this memo had transferred to Homeland Security's Duct Tape Division, but apparently he is still at
Peace Corps writing policy to keep volunteers isloated from each other. Why is this the on-the-ground centerpiece of the big PC safety initiative? The response to the GAO report doesn't really explain it. The two-volunteers-to-a-site plan sends the opposite message to the PC. Volunteers are safer when they are not isolated from each other.

By RPCV and former staffer ( - on Wednesday, February 18, 2004 - 5:42 pm: Edit Post

Thanks for your passion as well ... Hopefully, as someone who has served both as PCV and staff, I can offer some helpful feedback for the previous postings:

RE: "I am grateful for Daniel's passion ..."
As am I. However, I would say that this passion, while compelling, must be supported by a foundation of fact and substantive argument. There are many misunderstandings of PC processes contained in these postings, all of which could be cleared up by taking the time to understand available informaton (boring as this activity might be ...). If one merely wants to post here and isn't concerned with impact, then I certainly wouldn't blame you for skipping the reading. However, if one is planning to testify or submit proposals formally and truly wants to argue successfully, there is absolutely no excuse for being unprepared.

RE: "Ombudsman--
no teeth, can only make suggestions, protection from arbitrary actions is needed. "

An ombudsman would be an effective way to vet the majority of complaints that cannot be resolved in-country. It does not preclude the government from devising a better way to facilitate independent counsel for PCVs. And I very much support helping PCVs better navigate the FECA process ... The agency has indeed been insensitive on this point.

RE: "Early terminations ...

The vast majority of PCVs do not opt for admin sep when faced with the prospect, as they must weigh (a) the behavior that led to this process and the right to appeal with (b)the minimal documentation of the behavior that survives a resignation and no right to appeal. Of course I am biased from my own experiences, but I never initiated the admin sep process unless I had thoroughly investigated relevant incidents and was certain of the PCV's role. I don't think this approach is unique. ALL PCVs have the right to request an interview upon termination, although many requests are denied if general counsel, the IG and/or the regional director aren't convinced of the rationale behind the request (an ombudsman would actually be effective in these cases). Perhaps there should be a process whereby EVERY PCV receives an exit interview and/or a standard exit survey direct from PCW as well as from the CD. BTY, PC does have data from ET surveys on hand (although PCVs are not required to complete a survey). Breaking the data down into meaningful categories aids in better understanding terminations and potential methods for lowering ET rates.

RE: "I wonder how many forced ET's there are..."

The only "forced ETs" are admin and medical seps. Resignations are voluntary, although often the best course counseled for PCVs who face admin sep or are having problems adjusting. ALL PCVs receive the readjustment allowance earned in service up to the date of termination ($225/mo). Although, readj allowance is earned only upon swearing in (i.e., not during PST).

RE: "Two PCV's on a site ..."

As you wrote above, it's not always possible to place a PCV alone in a village ... This is when judgement comes into play ... A blanket rule of "two PCVs at every site" would restrict optimal decision making and programming. It wouldn't be long before many PCVs and staff were loudly protesting such blanket placement criteria. Too often, organizations are lured to the quick, misleadingly easy and almost certainly unsustainable solutions -- the "panacea". What happens when a site mate ETs or COSes in this scenario? Uprooting another volunteer or that volunteer regardless of their experiences at site? Villages would be underserved yet again (so many intl orgs focus almost entirely on the capital and urban areas). Making work for two PCVs in a small village would lead to frustration by the PCVs and the counterparts. Request and review the new S&S site development guidelines (policy MS270). We need to ensure these are substantively implemented and monitored. The CD must lead staff and work with PCVs to healthy communications. As in all relationships, communication issues always affect the resolution of conflicts.

RE: "Obviously, if the program in a country has 2 people in a group of 50 who do not finish their two years ..."

Micro-management leads to a less effective program, diminished potential on the part of both staff and PCVs. However, I would absolutely agree with the spirit of your argument ... Countries with high ET rates need to be inspected on a timely basis and more closely monitored. I experienced ET rates of 15-20% at a variety of posts, including the very poor and those only moderately poor. About 40-50% of these ETs were attributed to circumstances beyond the PCV's or staff's control (e.g., medical, personal crisis, etc.). The remainder would fall into the category of dissatisfaction (e.g., PC service not what was expected, homesick, unhappy with assignment or staff support, adjustment problems, housing issues, friction with staff or counterparts, etc.). In any case in which a specific site was rendered unviable for safety or health reasons, we always came up with an alternative site unless there were other significant issues involved such as those described above or the PCV decided to resign. The 5% would be truly great but extremely optimistic. 10-15% rate might be a realistic and aggressive goal. However, these are educated guessses based on experiences with several posts.

RE: "Volunteers with safety problems are not being reassigned. Staff just tells them ..."

Again, I would ask that not all staff (or PCVs or RPCVs) be lumped together with ones with whom you had negative experiences. The vast majority of PCVs and staff that I've known over the years have been competent, committed to the work, sincere about support and effective in the field. I have, however, known a few "bad apples" that were allowed to stay on and could have been removed with some resolve on the part of senior staff in DC. CDs have not been politically appointed since Nixon was president. They are hired in a competitive process (again, info on the process, job descriptions, requirements, etc. is available on the web site, in boring manuals, etc.).

From another post: PCVs are NOT federal employees (American PC staff are ...). They ARE Peace Corps Volunteers, and they DO have rights -- although PCVs are not always aware of these rights (often due to not having perused the information provided both in the US prior to service/PST and in-country). Why anyone would commit to two years of volunteer service in very challenging circumstances without taking the time to read all of the materials is beyond me. However, I can attest that many do not, perhaps even half or more.

RE: "Finally, look at the PC response to the GAO report. Read all three million pages, if you can stay awake that long ... "

Bureaucratic speak can be rather convoluted and confusing -- and sometimes absolutely ridiculous. Some of the steps taken were for "show" (e.g., numerous staff with "S&S" titles). There is a political process involved (i.e., PC's relations with congress, congressional support, etc.). However, there is also substance. Any CD/staff member who takes his or her responsibilities seriously and implements with substance the S&S guidelines, can significantly reduce problems in-country. To be fair, one cannot demand a hearing and a response, then refuse to peruse (as opposed to skim) the responses as reported. I cannot imagine that any organization's policy manuals, reports, documented hearings, etc. would provide exciting reading.

RE: "The only specific practice mentioned is towards the end ..."

This simply is not true. Read MS270 and the S&S program that all CDs/staff are required to implement (that's bureaucratic speak for PC manual section 270). Of course, it is a framework as it must be tailored to each country's dynamics.

RE: "This reminds me of the latest "safety" idea that went the rounds when I was in-country. Someone decided that traveling was a huge risk ..."

Valid comments in my opionion. Too many staff in DC react to an incident with blanket policy memos to posts. Then CDs react by issuing memos to PCVs ... Memos are necessary but not sufficient in clarifying support issues and policies (i.e., with messages that have been thought through and are relevant to post). However, substance is in the follow through and follow-up by staff and PCVs ... Too many "CMA" memos are issued without substantive action. However, I would add that in your example above the point of the message was to exercise good judgement. Many PCVs will take transportation that is unsafe even by local standards because they don't want to wait for safer alternatives, cancel plans, etc. There is no "magic bullet" guideline that can be followed blindly. One must combine "lessons learned" from all areas (cross cultural, S&S, language, etc.)to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances at hand.

RE:"Volunteers are safer when they are not isolated from each other. "

Volunteers are safest when they have a well developed safety circle (i.e., strong training, community partners, neighbors, GOOD site development, exercising good judegment, etc.).

There are many staff who would support Daniel's goal of safer PCVs, etc. -- though not all of his approaches ... I am pointing out certain issues, not to discredit these efforts, but rather to encourage a stronger, effective approach ...

One last comment: It helps to understand - not assume based on rumor mills -- how things really work and to clearly define your desired results (e.g., safer PCVs, stronger legal, medical and career support in the field and back in the US, proper acknowledgement of all who served and proactive communications with staff/agency, or literally placing two or more PCVs at every PC site in the world regardless ...). Be persistent, but also be open to exploring alternative resolutions that lead to desired results.

All the best.

By daniel (0-1pool136-64.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Wednesday, February 18, 2004 - 9:46 pm: Edit Post

To RPCV and Staff Person,

Response 1 I thank you for your time and consideration. I don't have alot of time. But, as you know, I am very interested in Safety, Health care and especially attrition and wrongful separations at Peace Corps both present and the past.

As you know, I am not in the position financially to have the (time resource) to put in a full time effort. However, we will be ready for the hearing process. As I have done, alot of research on the agency over the years and have facts to demostrate our concerns. Most are based on Peace Corps information.

Hearings are not the end of the road, too. We are planning to move into the public sector to raise the issue to the public. The services and service of volunteers is too important not to be recognized correctly.

Tonight, I will focus on one issue you have put forward.

Ombudsman or Ombudsman office: I and most separated volunteers do disagree because the office of an Ombudsman works for both Peace Corps and the Volunteer in theory. It would create more a "limbo" type situation for the volunteer. The Volunteer is the program. I think we need to focus on this fact.

However, I don't completely disagree with the idea, something is better than nothing. I know Tony Hall put this forward and he is a very thoughtful RPCV. He is also a former Congressman who has been hearing these problems for years in the Congress. He is also from Ohio where the Dayton Daily News Article was presented. I feel he would be expected to respond due to commitment to Peace Corps, his RPCV position, his current position and has had the the trust from the people of Ohio.

I think his idea of an Ombudsman's office was in response to the media attention, our constant concerns over the years while he was in the Congress, and the fact that he knows through his service and being a staff person, that we do exist as volunteers who perhaps weren't, "done right by the agency" yet some of us languish in the "label" Peace Corps placed on our service or our service records in a false light. Or has made an abitrary decision to separate us so, that we will go into America with a stain on our service and demoralizes us in our community with their decision.

It also affects the separated volunteers spirit, which he or she did sign up for that type of abuse. They were and are giving souls who gave their time to people in their given country, to their own country and to the spirit of Peace Corps and their colleagues.

First, let us explore what we want too. We want a lawyer or group of lawyers to work on our behalf solely under the law in the United States. The Peace Corps Volunteer "corps" was based on a military corps model when it was developed. Military Veterans do have, due process with representation. Peace Corps Volunteers do not. You have to remember what the "Volunteer" or "family of a volunteer" is up against when their is a conflict with the Agency.

First, Peace Corps has the "kangaroo court" of appeal process which will, in most cases rubber stamp in favor of the adminstrator of Peace Corps. Let's face it, you still have to work together.

Secondly, a volunteer can go to the Inspector General who can "only make recommendations" to the Director. In almost all cases, the Inspector General will not agree with the volunteer's claims, even if they do, their recommendation can be squashed through the Director not agreeing or the Director making IG's decision a matter of national security, thus not helping the volunteer's claim. Additionally in this situation, how is the volunteer to be on equal footing without an attorney?

Thirdly, The Peace Corps has a team of attorney's working in the General Counsel's office. Their interest is on the side of the agency and not the volunteer, who is the program. This is where the pendulum swings in the favor of the adminstrator who has wronged a volunteer, violated civil rights, characterized a health condition wrongfully or characterized a volunteer's safety issue wrongfully by using the chief medical officer coupled with these attorney's at Peace Corps.

The Ombudsman, would be on both the Peace Corps as Agency's side and the volunteer. Their decisions would not always be binding either, so we are right back to the Inspector General's office situation. If I am wrong in what I present, please tell me how the volunteer would have their rights upheld. In addition to this, the volunteer would be up against what I explained above.Though to some degree the Ombudsman would be on the side of the volunteer he or she would also represent the heavy hand described above.

The Congressionally funded lawyer's office for the Volunteer should be independent of Peace Corps, if the Congress funds it directly, so we are assured we would have a government funded lawyer or lawyers, so that we are on equal footing in our rights within the agency and US law.

Volunteers often don't even know their rights within the agency let alone their rights as a volunteer within the Federal Government system. This is one reason we need representation.

Secondly, by having a government funded lawyer on behalf of volunteers we put administrators in a check and balance situation, so that they will think about making their abitrary descision to easily separate a volunteer. It would reduce attrition of volunteers and retain volunteers in service.

Today, the Volunteer,since they are in a position of having this heavy hand above against them, it puts a "fear of reprisal atmosphere" in the air while serving. This especially true when expressing concerns of safety and health.

Another point is that, right now, volunteers are considered "employees" under the Federal Compensation Program Act. That is considered federal employees and federal employees can't sue the government, therefore the volunteer is sent into the abyss of FECA at the Department of Labor. We don't have a lawyer there either nor counsel on how to go about it. Also, Peace Corps knows many don't claim because of a volunteer's separation issue. They believe Peace Corps acted wrongfully in their action so why should they claim for workers compensation? In my view , this is a form of Waste,fraud and abuse.

This is where the volunteer, who has been separated wrongfully has no rights.

Separated Veterans who under representation of a lawyer that is funded by the government should be able to get benefits under FECA, however, that should be determined within Peace Corps, not passing it off to the Department of Labor, where the volunteer has generally very limited rights. Secondly, that the decision has a finality to it, so the volunteer does not have to continue to document their life experiences to the government to get benefits. This would streamline many cases. If the Peace Corps doesn't want us to fullfill our two year experience ,in such fervent fashion, we should make it financially difficult for them, so they don't separate us.

Alot of these cases call into question waste,fraud and abuse and other laws regarding abitrary and capricious actions against us. There is time limit. But, Peace Corps knows they can wear you out, through time, "so you will go away". Therefore, unable to present our case because of this time limit.

Lawyers working for volunteers scares Peace Corps and Peace Corps officials. Why? It would not be business as usual. It also assumes liability on behalf of the agency. Volunteer who are separated wrongfully do experience pain and suffering above and beyond the RPCV. We also experience discrmination in job development after service.

Since, our service has been wrongfully categorized we dont receive the benefits of job development after service like other volunteers also we may be denied jobs in government contracting or in Private industry because we may not be able to receive security clearances based on our categorized service record whether in health,safety or a whimsical separation, thus upwardly mobile development in our careers. What are we to do accept, the heavy hand of Peace Corps and finally accept that FECA is the only way to get compensation for a situation like this? Further, if we go for FECA, there is always the chance, which is very high, that you will be turned down without your rights really being represented.

There should be some kinds of limit in liability. I think there could be caps on general renumeration if a volunteer was found in the right. But, there should be no time limit in FECA cases.

Separated Veterans are not out for money solely. We are out for justice in our experiences as volunteers. Many of these volunteers have lost years in trying to get an upwardly mobile jobs and development in life, because of the Peace Corps decisions of the past.

Ultimately, we are humans and we are smart folks who want to contribute in their country and within their society to our full potential.

We don't want to be categorized as a Workers Compensation case for the rest of our life. That is not why we joined Peace Corps. We joined to serve and provide the third goal.

If we have to get benefits like this even after proven right that mistakes were made, we should not placed in the abyss, provided our benefits or some kind of renumeration that is fair to us.

Additionally, we should have an apology from the Agency. After that treated with the Respect of any RPCV.

I have not finished with this response and have not completely disproved why don't want an Ombudsman.

I will think more tonight and write the second part of this response.

Thanks again, Daniel

By daniel (0-1pool136-28.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 7:40 am: Edit Post

To RPCV and Staff person,

I was too tired to respond to you fully as I moved furniture yesterday and my body was beat down.

Another reason a genuine Attorney vs Ombudsman office is needed is the obvious. The attorney or attorney's office has more power and indepedence to solve our dilemmas with the agency and can cut through the layers of bureaucracy already against us at the agency.

Further reason and one of the most important. This goes for really anybody who "says why do you need all this when we served too". First of all, we served, alot of us have been wronged by the agency and that is why the hearing is taking place in the first place. Here is the crutch of it "Trust". Many separated veterans have appealed there cases, gone through the inspector general, appealed to the director, appealed through medical services, gone to special services, and have gone through the general counsel. What have we met with. Hostility.

Trust and Hostility: What is ironic is that these are some of the basic principles we are working toward and against when we are volunteers in field.

Here is another trust issue: If you really are going to help reduce the fear of reprisal in the agency through having a forum to solve separation and conflict issues, shouldn't we who have been wronged be able to suggest what is a fair forum.

People on the hill and you RPCV's have jumped at this Ombudsman office idea. People on the hill and you folks have known of our concerns for years but until it came out in the Media didn't you react. Why is everybody on board so fast with the idea? Why isn't having lawyer's office on behalf of Volunteers a bad idea? Why are you folks on board so fast with idea? That makes me feel and many others like, "what is up there sleeve with this tactic"? That is our mistrust with the idea. We will have to do some more research on this subject to show other models in the government, in the social sector, and in private sector. This distrust and firings went on for a long time and we don't want to be railroaded again or have the wool pulled over our eyes. If it smells like a skunk it most certainly could be a skunk. This is why NIJMA said it has no teeth.

I like Tony Hall, but he has never been through a wrongful separation, been shunned, discriminated against, been put down, held back by Peace Corps folks for his or her service, been denied continuation of service because of an administrators wrongful and whimsical decisions. To come only half way and to me its really not half way to saying let's look at the facts in each case equally.

Equal is the General Counsel's office who looks out for Peace Corps separation policy and the lawyers who would represent us. Then the two parties could sit down and work through cases of the past or present day. Fundamentally, you would be creating a conflict management office in doing this. Something desparately needed within Peace Corps to ensure safety and public trust.

Reasons for we will obtain our goals: There are thousands of us. Peace Corps knows that. That is the reason that journalist probably was a finalist in receiving a nomination for an ethics in government award. We wouldn't want an award like that for ourselves, for the web site we put up and took down, which put this issue fully on the table and brought to the attention of the media. What we want is real policy changes, so that people aren't placed in dangerous situations and that Peace Corps treats its "volunteers" like gold. We intend to secure that goal by having Peace Corps come clean with the past.

I want to let you know, that, that, web site went up because of years of being lied about by the agency and we knew they were continuing to do it to and more and more. Then more people were dieing and coming back with huge issues. We had lobbied on the hill 1993-94, we got discouraged. However, when a volunteer went missing. I knew the staff people at Peace Corps needed real change in their attitude. We will not stop this time until we are met on equal ground.

I blamed myself for not pushing for those people who were victims of violence. The people who died and were killed our with us to improve the agency. Whether you believe in god or not. I do and he is finding us a way. Because each one of the victims of violence and wrongful separations needs to be heard and get their justice for being wronged.

I will continue this dialogue tonight, I have to go lift heavy objects because of discrimination from Peace Corps.

We will comment on how RPCV's and us are on the same side like yourself. We also want more help from you people and you are providing some now, by engaging us in a thoughtful way. We appreciate that. We agree on somethings and that is a beginning.

I will also try to answer some of your comments on the postting tonight. This was written fast this morning. Errors please over look for the communication.

Thanks and have a good one,


By 2X RPCV ( - on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 8:04 pm: Edit Post

To the former RPCV/staffer and Beth,
I appreciate the time and effort you've taken to point out the many flaws and weaknesses in Daniel's arguments. I, too, am a former volunteer and staff member. I was assaulted as a PCV and have counseled both assaulted and separated volunteers. I'm offended by his presumption that he speaks for me and his refusal to entertain other viewpoints. Certainly Peace Corps can improve but, as Beth pointed out, he has not acknowledged any of the things PC does right. If he can't find a more effective manner I wish he would find another cause to "help".

By daniel (0-1pool136-30.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Friday, February 20, 2004 - 9:30 am: Edit Post

Response 2 to RPCV on the issues related to the GAO Report.

As you know RPCV & staffer, we wrote a response to the GAO report on Safety here on this web site. As you know, we disagreed with alot of it, but the idea of having it brought up as an issue has changed Peace Corps for the better. First of all, that GAO Report would have never happened done if we had not lobbied Marty Meehan and been directly involved with his staff. We appreciate Marty being a listener and very concerned about Peace Corps safety. Congressman Meehan and former Cynthia MCkinney should be honored too at some point for recognizing the growing problem at Peace Corps.

It is my belief, if Congressman Meehan hadn't raised this issue, the Office of Safety would not have been a thought in the minds of the Peace Corps. Congressman Meehan's GAO Report on Overall safety has been referenced throughout the safety issue, because we now have, at least have some actual numbers and trends of violence against volunteers.

Secondly, Marty's second effort for accountability was directly involving the missing volunteer from Bolivia. A GAO Report has been done on his case too. As you know, Marty comes from Paul Tsongas's hometown. Marty knows that many people joined Peace Corps because of Paul's service and vision toward that end.

Believe me we have compromised in this process too and have had to sit on the sides lines at times. Remember the GAO wrote nothing about pairing of volunteers in their report and it is the number one problem in safety prevention. Number two the report wrote nothing in response to the fear of Reprisal from the Agency and its realtionship to attrition rates.

NJIMA wrote this: RE: "Finally, look at the PC response to the GAO report. Read all three million pages, if you can stay awake that long ... "

Yes, she (NJIMA) is right in terms of bureaucratic speak. They don't get to the point in many cases. However, the GAO report did spur the effort toward an office of safety, we appreciate that. (hey , there is something positive). Peace Corps barely mentions having pairs even in countries with high attrition rates, as you have suggested. I think both the Peace Corps and the GAO needed to look at the fact that 86% of victims of violence were alone at the time of their attack, no matter how you slice up the issue. These facts need to be addressed properly to ensure safety. Our proposal has been pairing which is very hard for many RPCV's, who have not been through a safety issue, to get their head around on.

RE: "Early terminations ...

The vast majority of PCVs do not opt for admin sep when faced with the prospect, as they must weigh (a) the behavior that led to this process and the right to appeal with (b)the minimal documentation of the behavior that survives a resignation and no right to appeal. Of course I am biased from my own experiences, but I never initiated the admin sep process unless I had thoroughly investigated relevant incidents and was certain of the PCV's role. I don't think this approach is unique. ALL PCVs have the right to request an interview upon termination, although many requests are denied if general counsel, the IG and/or the regional director aren't convinced of the rationale behind the request (an ombudsman would actually be effective in these cases). Perhaps there should be a process whereby EVERY PCV receives an exit interview and/or a standard exit survey direct from PCW as well as from the CD. BTY, PC does have data from ET surveys on hand (although PCVs are not required to complete a survey). Breaking the data down into meaningful categories aids in better understanding terminations and potential methods for lowering ET rates.

Our response to this: Behavior: Peace Corps staff are the best at monitoring behavior and great at being critical until it comes to them. Granted there are some cases,very rare, that a volunteer's behavior compromises the program and other volunteers. Documenting behavior out of context is a crime and many do it at Peace Corps as you know. Behavior Police types need to stop for the better good of the program too. Many ET's and separations come from over agressive staff people with their own adgenda, that is where volunteers need protection.

Yea, you have the right for an interview in your termination case, but you are up against the people who separated you or their direct colleagues who are on their side no matter what? This where we really need the lawyer. To put the check on the administrators sending volunteers home unjustily and hurting the program.

There has never been a direct poll done on RPCV's in general on how they feel about the agency and separations. We are asking for a forty year GAO report on all volunteers who served. I would say that is positive. That will be somewhat accurate numbers.

RE: "I wonder how many forced ET's there are..."

The only "forced ETs" are admin and medical seps. Resignations are voluntary, although often the best course counseled for PCVs who face admin sep or are having problems adjusting. ALL PCVs receive the readjustment allowance earned in service up to the date of termination ($225/mo). Although, readj allowance is earned only upon swearing in (i.e., not during PST).

Our Response to this: Right and they have forced alot of separations wrongfully violating civil rights. That is a crime. Adjustment issues are very subjective.

RE: "Two PCV's on a site ..."

As you wrote above, it's not always possible to place a PCV alone in a village ... This is when judgement comes into play ... A blanket rule of "two PCVs at every site" would restrict optimal decision making and programming. It wouldn't be long before many PCVs and staff were loudly protesting such blanket placement criteria. Too often, organizations are lured to the quick, misleadingly easy and almost certainly unsustainable solutions -- the "panacea". What happens when a site mate ETs or COSes in this scenario? Uprooting another volunteer or that volunteer regardless of their experiences at site? Villages would be underserved yet again (so many intl orgs focus almost entirely on the capital and urban areas). Making work for two PCVs in a small village would lead to frustration by the PCVs and the counterparts. Request and review the new S&S site development guidelines (policy MS270). We need to ensure these are substantively implemented and monitored. The CD must lead staff and work with PCVs to healthy communications. As in all relationships, communication issues always affect the resolution of conflicts.

Our Response to this: MS 270 is the same manual, which never mentioned safety issues until the mid 1990's. MS 270 is a guide book which has really hurt many volunteers. To refer to that manual is an injustice to many of us. But, I do know you are trying to be constructive from your perspective. I am not going to yell or get emotional, but I am going to say that, that, guide book and inactions on behalf of staff is what we are having this hearing for. The Hearing was not demanded, it evolved because MS 270 is not working in terms of safety. You may strongly disagree, but we are going to be arguing our perspective too.

When judgement came into play, many over 2,000 plus became victims of violence. You are going to be arguing against those increases in numbers.

Thanks for your remarks,

Will write again with another response:


By Beth Yehaskel (cs24342-55.austin.rr.com - on Friday, February 20, 2004 - 9:59 am: Edit Post

A few questions, Daniel.

First off, just for my own benefit, can you let me know whether you acknowledge that it is impossible for PC to prevent all crimes and all violence? That yes, they can improve safety, but that even if all your suggestions are implemented, there is no way that safety issues and attacks can be completely prevented?

As for forced ETs, do you or do you not recognize that some forced ETs may not be what the volunteer want (and that the vol might protest vehemently) but that those ETs are, in fact, in the best interest of that volunteers safety and/or health?

Do you understand that any report, and any statistics gathered, should to be taken with a grain of salt? Do you understand the business of stats, and that they can be twisted to support nearly any argument one might chose to make?

Do you understand what is means to use generalizations, and that by speaking in terms that lump massive groups of people into one assumption, your argument will be cracked at its very foundation? As illustrated by the post from the RPCV and staffer who was assaulted and who has counseled other RPCVs, you are speaking for people who may not want you to speak for them. You use the phrase "Our response" throughout your post. I'm not sure who you're talking about, and if you tell me "any RPCV who was assaulted, killed, or wrongfully separated" I will roll my eyes. I won't speak for the rights of women in general, but I will speak on my personal opinions as a woman, and perhaps speak on behalf of those who have given me their permission to speak for them. Just something for you to think about.

Do you understand that there is no way you can draw a direct, clear, uninterrupted correlation between PCs actions and violence against PCVs? You MUST factor in those people who carried out the violence. And unless you're suggesting that PC implant chips in the head of every host country national before they send in volunteers, there will be more incidents of violence. PC can improve, but there are a lot more factors here than just PC and PCVs. Like, the host country, people who live there, and the culture of that country, for example.

One last question - I'm curious about the several instances in which you blame PC for having to carry furniture as a job. I'm confused. Did PC somehow sign you into forced labor, and you are being held in shackles? I know several people who had forced terminations: one is an entrepreneur, one is in medical school, one is a lawyer. I'm sorry, but I'm having trouble figuring out how PC is to blame for your present job. I'm a freelance writer and marketing consultant - is that because of my own hard work, or should I give all the credit to PC? I'm pretty sure its the former.

Quick note to the other RPCV who posted just before your last one - thanks for putting your opinion out there. It is one thing for me to argue with someone like Daniel, but it is an entirely other thing when people who he claims to be speaking for come forward and disagree with his points. Again, we all understand that the bottom line goal is (or should be) making PC safer in a realistic and practical manner, but there are good ways to do this and there are inflammatory and ineffective ways to do this. Anyway, thanks for posting.

Beth Yehaskel

By daniel (0-1pool136-72.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Friday, February 20, 2004 - 12:50 pm: Edit Post

I know try to kill the messenger, we all get the point. It funny that they were both staffers. The insiders are really concerned with the fact that we are moving forward. It seems to me that as Staff people some have been paid to make Peace Corps safer. I notice Carollo got attack from some of you folks too.

Beth I will respond later to the "torpedo efforts". I have to run and work at bringing in income.

Beth, there are many who disagree with us.

Peace Corps holds a file with lies regarding my personal case and it is used to discriminate in other government areas and you, I believe know this and want to try pick, and pry at a sore subject. That is easy. What is hard is former a volunteer like you to understand that you could call Peace Corps and advocate to change this type of separation system. No, the focus is on me, not the issue, that is very easy.

We are miles apart in our thinking. I have to go. I have to get this "Piano in the house". Ooooooh. Just kidding. Shackles really hurt today.

I will write later. Why do you ask so many curious questions?

You have asked alot?

I am asking one? Where did you serve?

You are so nice,


By Daniel (0-1pool136-72.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Friday, February 20, 2004 - 12:58 pm: Edit Post

You never wrote the good stuff, out of the muck.

I ansewer your questions.

You seem to not ansewer mine.


By solo (gk-160-8.usps.gov - on Friday, February 20, 2004 - 1:02 pm: Edit Post


"Peace Corps holds a file with lies regarding my personal case and it is used to discriminate in other government areas and you..."

Are you on medication? You are starting to concern me. Are you starting to hear voices? Is the government after you? I think I may be going through the same thing. Please contact me on the special frequency we had origianlly planned. I'm out and waiting for your response.."The fat man has emptied the water cooler" Repeat, "The fat man has emptied the water cooler".

By fatpostman (0-1pool136-74.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Friday, February 20, 2004 - 2:08 pm: Edit Post

Solo, Post worker,

You don't know the particulars of my situation.

For the comments below, no need for the response.
Thanks for trying the groin blow. Nice one.

Appreciate your concern.

Frequency Tuner

By daniel (0-1pool136-74.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Friday, February 20, 2004 - 2:22 pm: Edit Post

Beth, This was just sent to me from someone who served in on the central African countries who was wrongfully separated.


I disagree with your statement, "Some forced ETs may not be what the volunteer want but that those ETs are, in fact, in the best interest of that volunteers safety and/or health?" That blanket statement cannot be applied to all situations. I was in a country where two of the nine provinces were evacuated. Instead of being reassigned temporarily at different posts within the country, we were sent home. Another PCV and I requested reinstatement within the country, knowing that the situation would clear up shortly. Two months later, my friend was back at post, yet my request to return was denied. One month after that a new training group arrived in country and within months there were two new volunteers living at my site. PC officials convinced themselves that the ET was in the best interest of the volunteers (and themselves, mainly, as they were changing CDs at the time and the office was overly busy), but their decision to ship the volunteers home was shortsighted and showed total lack of consideration for the volunteers themselves. What's my proof? The fact that they let the other PCV return to her site so quickly after the incident, and the fact that the arrival of the next lot of volunteers was not at all affected by the situation. So while the evacuation was in the best interest of the volunteers at that time, was it in the best interest of the volunteer's service? No. The PC Staff showed no interest in keeping us in country or even reassigning us to another. Why didn't they hold us in country and wait out the situation? I'll never know. Evacuations occur, unfortunately, but the volunteer doesn't lose out in most situations. In my situation, where the PC Staff showed no concern at all for me as a volunteer, I'll never believe that the evacuation was in the best interest of the PCV. I think the PC staff performed extremely poorly, and I'd like to see more oversight from HQ in future situations. Beth, there are so many different instances where ETs happen, and sometimes they are not in the best interest of the PCV. Please remember that the PC staff do not always show regard for the volunteer's commitment to serve.

Another SPCV

I am sending this on behalf of the above volunteer.


By Beth Yehaskel (cs24342-55.austin.rr.com - on Friday, February 20, 2004 - 3:45 pm: Edit Post

I agree with what your friend wrote, in terms of not all staff always showing regard for a volunteers commitment to serve. This is one of my points - many incidents that happen seem to point to weak in-country staff. I understand that they are, in a sense, PC, but I know that I, for instance, had great in-country staff. We had some bad situations where even good staff made poor choices (they are only human) but I think its important to bring some focus to getting PC to improve weak staff members rather than rail the organization as a whole.

Side note to your comment about how a couple posters here are staff members. You fail to acknowledge that one of them was also assaulted. I think that's an important point.

To answer a couple of your questions, Daniel. First, I served in the Dominican Republic as I've mentioned to you in several posts prior to this. As for your wanting to know what good points I think you've buried in muck, they're pretty fundamental. That PC should be finding appropriate and practical ways to improve volunteer safety. I think you muck up your points with unwavering opinions. Having strong opinions is good, but you don't ever acknowledge that something you say might not be the absolute best thing ever, and that maybe, just maybe, one of your perceived opponents might have a valid point. This is the muck I refer to.

As for my curiousity - I have lots of questions for you. You are the single most vocal person on every page of this entire site. If you're going to be this aggressive, you better be able to answer some basic questions. I still think your logic is flawed, so my previous list of questions that I posted are me wondering where you are coming from, and whether you're even capabable of participating in a productive debate.

As an aside: I find it interesting that you are always the first on these boards to attack someone for posting without giving their name or situation, and yet you are posting on behalf of someone who is hiding. And you want me to take that post seriously, though you never do unless they respond with their personal information? Facinating.


By nijma (m115500.cuppa.uic.edu - on Friday, February 20, 2004 - 8:57 pm: Edit Post

I don't find these personal attacks and demands very helpful. I'm more interested in hearing about what people experienced, what people saw, and the time frame they saw it in (why safety and security problems seem to have mushroomed in the 90's).

By daniel (0-1pool136-118.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Friday, February 20, 2004 - 9:56 pm: Edit Post

Daniel, tell that Beth woman that I am not hiding, that I am simply having logon problems.

That is a response from the woman I posted for. I don't think she has to respond directly anyway. You get the drift for discussion sake. Also, remember she was separated, as the staff people in her case continued on in their career path, probably trying to step on other folks who were doing a good job as a volunteer.

My response: Some people don't want to give dates, time and details about their situation. Take for example the two former staffers above, your friends, they certainly don't want to reveal their names, their situation, dates and details. Also, look at the smuck with the personal attacks above. I know you are going to say I do the same thing. I made mistake in Matt's case above and acknowledged it.

However, there are others who deserve alittle shaming for the people they stepped on or didn't act correctly while people were hurt. I am referring to a couple of the former Directors, I have made comments about.

Many former staffers don't want to identify themselves. If, I were them I would think about it too.

Beth, we are trying solve problems that a group feels needs to be addressed. People are going to disagree.

I feel Peace Corps can be one of the best agencies in the government, if they treat each other better from staff to volunteers. Peace Corps officials and some RPCV's have accepted lower standards in medical separations,ET's and admin seps for thirty years. It hasn't been right for thirty plus years, now that attitude is in the way of safety, health and the integrity of the Agency.

You want me to say nice things about the Peace Corps.

I am very positive about the Peace Corps in general. But, there are elements that need to fundamentally changed without rhetoric this time.
I am unwavering in that way. There will be alot of folks who disagree with us. There has been alot of staff people who have "blown off our suggestions" as people would continue to perish and be wrongfully separated. They never listened, now we will get our chance. Will it be perfect no, but there are many of the fallen and victims who will agree with our points.

I am very glad you had a good experience and Beth so did I until the last couple of days of my days. Most of the time, I talk about the good things about Peace Corps, but here amongst RPCV's and in Congress we are making our concerns known.

If you can understand this, I don't want to see one person hurt or killed again. I know Peace Corps won't listen to reason, so we are going to air it out in the hearing. Its a democracy.

For years, we have had to listen to folks who like you differ with us on policy. We have had to listen to the staffers like the ones above with the policy guidelines and the administrators of the past who made mistakes keep telling us they are right. Perhaps, they are right from their perspective. We are going to raise the concerns of 2,800 plus victims of violence through our proposals, lobbying and legislation.

Peace Corps has had alot of time to change. They won't and that is why Carollo wrote the articles.

You keep telling me that you know some people have not done the right thing in many cases. Well, when is the time table?

Tired and I need to get back to work. Oh we got that Piano in without a scratch.

Your flawed logic friend,


By 2X RPCV ( - on Friday, February 20, 2004 - 10:17 pm: Edit Post

Your response to my post was "I know try to kill the messenger, we all get the point. It funny that they were both staffers. The insiders are really concerned with the fact that we are moving forward. "

Would you please explain? What's so funny about us being staff members? Why would I, as an assault victim, not want Peace Corps service to be safer?

You claim to represent the "thousands" of PCVs that were assaulted or seperated yet you quite clearly are implying that I, a victim, am part of the grand conspiracy that is thwarting your cause. Your writings indicate that my experience as a staff member invalidates my experience as an assault victim. You are every bit as dismissive and disrespectful as the Peace Corps staff you disparage.

I repeat, you do not speak for me. You do not speak for any of the "thousands" who have been separated. You can only speak for yourself. You presume too much.

By daniel (0-1pool136-12.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Saturday, February 21, 2004 - 6:59 am: Edit Post

Appreciate your service, and it is unfortunate you were assaulted during service. I am sure you really cared about your service and care about volunteers.

Let me address one thing with the grand conspiracy. It is not a grand conspiracy, it is unqualified individuals at Peace Corps and without ethics or sensitivity. Are you one of those people, probably, not. However, if someone has worked in Peace Corps during the 1980's, 1990's and into 2004, you are fully aware of these problems existed. Many did not do the right thing, many did not listen to our warning calls and our experiences. Many violated people's civil rights and some staff people looked on with an "awe that isn't right" attitude. But, they weren't in position to change it or didn't feel the need to change it because it worked for them.

If you want me to put names on here of Public Officials, I won't. They know who they are.

You say, "you are every bit as dismissive and disresptful as the Peace Corps staff you disparage". I am, and at least I admit it. The Staff people who started this "bunk" don't, and they are part of the problem, not the solutions needed to move forward. I have a very good nature, like most people and if you really knew me, you would see why I was accepted into Peace Corps in the first place.

But, when the Peace Corps, (that is the individuals who represent the leadership and decision makers) hurt people, volunteer safety, health, well being, careers, and on and on, well, I will speak out. I still think many of the people in the IG leadership, the Director's office, medical services, office of special services, planning and policy, personnel and the general counsel's office are apathetic. They go along and get along for a pay check and they are the one's who make judgements which are not in the best interest of these young and old adults who have served their country, their government, you, and the people of the country they served.

If I don't speak for you, well, I guess we disagree then. There are many SPCV's who disgree with me personally and as a group. You say you have counseled people who were victims, did you make them accept actions which they felt were wrong by staff members internally, you had to work for? You may believe in the program set up by Peace Corps and the methods in medical services, the administrative offices, the safety planning offices and some of the above mentioned. I and many other SPCV's don't, and want change.

We see that the methods are hurting families and individuals. If you are counseling people and trying to do the right thing, all the power to you. I also, think if you would agree with me about the FECA program and some of the areas in our proposal.

I don't know why you were staff. They probably handled your assault pretty well in terms of health care and administratively and that is good and you may believe in that system in place. There are many of us who don't, like the woman who posted above and the other woman who posted above and the list goes on.

From my experience and the former Peace Corps folks, I speak to, who have had problems are upset with the agency and want change. There are others who accept the decision makers at Peace Corps and go home or collect a FECA check and go to counselling in their home area. They move on to different things in their life and so one. Is that bad, no, but we have other plans.

From my experience and others who agree with our concerns, we want systematic change. We as SPCV's want a say in our experiences as volunteers. We want real choices and qualifed individuals at Peace Corps. If the Peace Corps so awesome? Why hasn't the Director reached out and said we have an open amensty for all former volunteers? Why doesn't he make, two of the General Counsel members, "Volunteer Counsel".

That is not impossible and not a conflict of interest, because the interest of the program is the volunteer, not the Director who makes a hundred plus thousand while people and families of former volunteers, who served, have problems because they ran into a conflict or an ignorant (not knowing the consequences of their actions) staff member with the agency.

I know many staff members and many are friends of mine. They know the problems exist but they can't change them they say. Well, we say we can and we are trying. The numbers of attrition are facts and the numbers of victims are facts. We disagree on the methods. Some people fight back different than others and we all should be tolerant of that. We have hearings. We are going to get what we think will be a safer peace corps, healthier peace corps, a better work environment, less partonizing,with more equal rights for volunteers who serve. What is wrong with that? Our methods are flawed right?

No, I am one example and the two who posted above are examples too. They (PC) have not remedied the wrongs in our cases. They aren't doing enough for safety of volunteer's health, safety and retention in service from our perspective. We hope you can help too.

If you want to believe in the way Peace Corps handles things or don't want to be part of it, then stay with them or the national peace corps association. We will move forward and make the changes we think are neccessary and right. Like a former member of the IG's office, who is an aquaintance of mine, has said to me "just keep pushing, you are on the right track".

If we get money or funds to repair the past and help in the future, what is wrong with that?

Again, I don't know what happened to you. I am sure it profoundly impacted your life. We are both former volunteers and I do respect your service.

I guess we disagree with my presumptions.

Thanks Daniel

By daniel (0-1pool136-12.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Saturday, February 21, 2004 - 7:30 am: Edit Post

For Beth, 2 RPCV, former staff above, Nijma, Matt and others who have posted.

Someone has e-mailed me recently with something interesting.

I think you all know that the increase in violence and separations has happened during the during the 1990's. If you look at it as increasing, well why and who was doing the perpetrating and was there a pattern, all of us have missed in our discussion? Just a thought.

By RPCV and another former staff member ( - on Saturday, February 21, 2004 - 9:53 am: Edit Post

Daniel - This is why we break down data into meaningful categories, whether for safety incidents, ETs, or other issues of concern. The data is available to be analyzed in various ways. One other note: While safety incidents might have increased to some degree overall, it's also likley (and very difficult to quantify) that the number of incidents reported has increased substantially due to improvemments in the commuunications and reporting processes. In any case, the issue of S&S trends in the 90s has been discussed in the various GAO and PC reports, as well as in the Dayton articles.

I know at one post for example, the number of incidents reported doubled - while incidents against other expats and host country nationals remained almost flat - in one year after staff implemented improvements to the process and spent considerable energy educating and communicating with volunteers about why the information is so important... i.e., in enabling staff and fellow PCVs to better support volunteers, respond to the incidents at hand, analyze data for patterns and make improvements to site development and communications, etc. CDs are required to regularly update the S&S environment in-country, and this assessment is to be included in staging info, the staff and volunteer versions of the Emergency Action Plan, PST sessions, regular updates to PCVs in service, etc.

By daniel (0-1pool136-28.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Saturday, February 21, 2004 - 10:40 am: Edit Post

I want to acknowledge there have been improvements in many areas. I think those changes are signifigant. The increases could be from better communication. I agree. I think there needs to better prevention at a volunteer's site coupled with Washington's efforts and CD's.

I know the trends have been discussed in those prior articles but in some cases their are other trends that are not discussed. We never want to bring up the "T" word, (I don't like using it) but it happened alot in the late 1980's and through the nineties. I did not see much in those reports relevant to that. But, some things I guess are better left un-said?

I know I was threatened like that and they affected alot didn't they? That is part of their purpose I guess? In my case, The Peace Corps administrators case have helped them from my point of view.

That is why we need to learn from one another and not be so judgemental?

Your post is honest straight forward and does show me people are somewhat civil at Peace Corps.

Thanks for Your post, Daniel

By 2X RPCV ( - on Saturday, February 21, 2004 - 5:40 pm: Edit Post


You stated, "If I don't speak for you, well, I guess we disagree then." This, again, implies that you do feel you speak for me and, again, you are incorrect.

I stated, "You are every bit as dismissive and disresptful as the Peace Corps staff you disparage." You responded "I am, and at least I admit it". This is the reason why you are not advancing the cause of improving Peace Corps. Until you prove yourself better than those you perceive as unjust, you will have no credibility. Because of this and your flawed logic, you are not only ineffective, you hinder the work of others. Progress is made in spite of you, not because of you.

I greatly respect Beth's decision not to provide us with more information about her friend who died in service. I also appreciate this site's option of posting anonymously. I have seen how you presumptively use the experience of others to advance your agenda. I own what happened to me and since you refuse to acknowledge that you do not speak for me, I will not allow you the opportunity to distort my story or use it presumptively as you have so many others.

By daniel (0-1pool136-91.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Saturday, February 21, 2004 - 6:49 pm: Edit Post


I guess you have said your peace.

Thanks for your input,


By Nijma (dsc01-chc-il-209-109-228-154.rasserver.net - on Sunday, February 22, 2004 - 3:22 pm: Edit Post

There seem to be a lot of "former staffers" engaged this discussion. Maybe some of you can use the anonymity of this site and your inside information give us some insight about what policy changes would make a difference to safety and security. As you well know, it is impossible to get any information out of Peace Corps unless you are a major newspaper and you ask for it under the Freedom of Information Act with lawyers. Too often, Peace Corps staffers present themselves as the "we know what's best for you" aristocracy, with volunteers as peasants who don't even merit an explanation, much less a voice. This internal "culture of hostility" towards the volunteer is backfiring on the agency.

The frequent citing of policy documents not available to the public is a bit arrogant. Although corporations and government agencies in the U.S. give their employees open access to policy documents, often online, PC does not even give volunteers serving in country access to policy. We tried. We were trying to start a project so volunteers could have meaningful assignments and wanted to know if our proposal conformed with policy before we presented it. This kind of secrecy, coupled with an out-of-control safety and security situation, does not inspire public trust.

In regard to separations, we know that DC always sides with the country director. The volunteer who appeals, after traveling long distances and frequently in poor health, faces a battery of adequately-fed, safely-housed, and presumably diarrhea-free administrators alone without any rights. The only thing volunteers can accomplish by appealing is to try to gain a better situation for the volunteers that will follow them. The only time the decision of the country director is not upheld is when the original country director has left that position. The result of an appeal is always "no".

In regard to attrition rates, we had no one ET during training, not one. The trainers had been told to solve all problems, and they did.

The same with reassigning volunteers. Staff always told volunteers with safety problems they had no sites for reassignments, but when the country director said, "find a site", they were always able to do so immediately. It seems there is a great respect for pecking order, and the volunteer is very low in the caste system. Simple directives to the staff may hold the solutions for all the PC's safety and security problems.

I know many volunteers who ET'd or stayed in questionable situations, when someone with access to vehicle, telephone, translator, and authority could have resolved the S&S problems just by meeting with everyone together and listening. Unfortunately, many staffers do not have the ability or the will to do this. Communication is hard to mandate, yet it is essential to the three goals. It is much easier to mandate two or three volunteers to a site and drop the requirement when a country can demonstrate low attrition rates.

Okay, staffers and former staffers. Are you being given the tools to do your jobs? Or do they just throw you out there in some country without adequate staff, adequate training for the support people, and host country nationals who can't read English or use a computer because they are political appointees without qualifications?

Do you need a budget for crisis management so you can recruit former volunteers in-country to paid staff positions instead of inviting them to a third year as a volunteer? Is the political situation in your country enough to make a Chicago alderman blush? Do you need a directive from DC that says you need to offer three inspected alternative housing sites to each volunteer so they have a place to go when their safety is threatened, instead of forcing them to live in a dangerous place so that someone who is politically connected can collect the rent?

What do you need to respond to the volunteers who come to you with safety concerns so you can actually offer them an alternative instead of a plane ticket home? Or do you just hate us?

By daniel (0-1pool136-105.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Sunday, February 22, 2004 - 6:41 pm: Edit Post



By Signing off ( - on Sunday, February 22, 2004 - 11:05 pm: Edit Post

Yes, Nijma has spoken, convincing me, certainly, that it's a waste of time to try and assist here ... You obviously have made up your minds about all staff in quite negative terms, even those who are RPCVs and collectively have experienced it all (that would include assualt as well as diarrhea, Nijma)... Ironic, how you're stereotyping an entire group of people in your quest to "help" ...

By Beth Yehaskel (cs24342-55.austin.rr.com - on Monday, February 23, 2004 - 1:54 am: Edit Post

Hello, personally. I'm Beth Yehaskel, formerly Beth Gorman, a PCV and non-staff member. You seem like an intelligent person, so let me ask you, what about volunteers who are separated for safety reasons but who are not happy about it. Who have it forced on them because of situations in their areas. What about volunteers, like I have known, who were moved from their original sites for safety reasons, and set in a place they just did not like and chose to leave. Do they count in the group you want to defend?

It seems that personal attacks are definitely becoming the norm around here. Me against Daniel's form of attacking PC, Daniel and Njima affronting former PCVs who are staffers now - when do we get back to the real debate? And when do we all get together, as we should, to help present and future PCVs with safety?

From my limited perspective, we should all be coming together with our unique experiences for a common cause. But there are so many angry emotions, we're getting nothing done. And the bottom line is that we're arguing about HOW to make things better, and unless we all listen and learn from each other, instead of forcing our own opinions, that's won't happen.

I think having staffers in the debate is a brilliant way to make a difference from the inside. If those of us with good ideas can effectively convey them to the staff directly, then things can happen. So why are they being attacked on this post? Especially those who were also assault victims, and who have an extremely personal tie to this issue?


By daniel (0-1pool136-42.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Monday, February 23, 2004 - 10:53 pm: Edit Post

The hearings will be a start for us to understand one another.

Its been interesting Beth and despite what you may think, you are making a difference in this debate. I have listened and participated with you. Affronting? I would use challenge.

The system at Peace Corps on safety, separation, medical separations, and Feca are broken and it does hurt volunteers. That is what we are going to be challenging Beth. The staff members who have backed that system and currently will be challenged on their current policies, their performance and what results they have been producing for all Volunteers. What is wrong with that? How many times has Peace Corps actually been questioned on the hill in a hearing format?

I would like to see what these folks have in terms of what is being done to correcting the past, currently and in the future. If it is in that 30 page report, they better be prepared too.

Your friendly,

The Mover


By nijma (66-2-46-118-chi-04.cvx.algx.net - on Tuesday, February 24, 2004 - 12:04 am: Edit Post

"I'm not afraid. We need this information to make sure that the steps we have taken thus far are adequate to the problem. We need to know the truth."

Is this the official Peace Corps response to the Dayton series? Nope. It is from the U.S. conference of Catholic bishops regarding next week's release of a nationwide survey on sex abuse among Roman Catholic clergy. If the Peace Corps was running the Roman Catholic Church, altar boys would be excommunicated for not wanting to live with priests who had abused them.

No, I don't believe it is a personal attack for someone to describe something they have seen or experienced that challenges someone else's assumptions. If no one challenges the Peace Corps' assumptions right now, even more people will be hurt.

One volunteer who reported an assault was told by a staffer, "What's wrong with you that you didn't enjoy it?" I saw the bruises on her butt. Another volunteer who reported an attack was told by a staffer, "I expect people to touch you." What is wrong with this picture? We need to send a message to the volunteers, loud and clear, that we do not expect people to touch them, and that we will do everything we can to support them against these degrading expectations.

I have heard stories about staffers in country. One married staffer was hitting on volunteers who came into the office to report assaults and would offer them free food and try to get them into a hotel. Another staffer was having sex with 9-year-old host country girls, as he claimed it was culturally acceptable. These are the same children international organizations find for surgical repair of rectal fistulas.

What on earth are they thinking about at PC headquarters? What must their sexual harassment training program for employees look like? Does anyone within the organization dare speak out? And is this the face we present to the world?

Here is the final thought: "Good wishes are not enough. We have to assume responsibility." -the Dalai Lama, Daily Wisdom, beliefnet.com

By daniel (0-1pool136-1.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Tuesday, February 24, 2004 - 5:50 am: Edit Post


Thanks for your post.

The analogy of the catholic church is an interesting perspective.

The Peace Corps can't discount the 31 volunteers who have died, been killed and are missing in service. Those are facts. They won't be able to deny the 2,800 plus victims of Violence since 1997. Yes, there are cases of assaults they have handled well. They are the lucky ones.

Some even got the opportunity to have federal employment after their situation. I guess there was no reprisal in their cases. We are grateful to know that. And we are grateful to know you are getting upwardly mobility in job development in some of your cases.

But, how many people after a safety breech were not handled well at all at Peace Corps and still aren't? Yes, they are in the thousands. Those are the service people who were assaulted, threatened with their life, sexually raped and physically attacked. Many of these folks were separated too, they are without the resources to fight back with Peace Corps. Many have medical issues they are paying out of pocket for because the Peace Corps has exhausted their appeals and because PC doesn't respect their service, their experience, nor believes their assault, rape, or threatening of their life even happened. Where does this leave us?

With mismanagement related to Safety, Health and separation cases.

To put out one or two or even ten people they have treated right, doesn't dismiss the thousands disserved by the agency.

I found it astounding that return volunteers and former staff wouldn't be working for other victims of assaults, rapes and violence who have been "separated" wrongfully or categorized wrongfully by Peace Corps.

For former volunteers who try to tell me how to behave, after going through what I have been through with that agency is a crime. As for winning creditbility or winning acceptance with my detractors, it is not a popularity contest. Its about justice, doing the right thing and aiding Peace Corps Volunteer rights. Since some are doing it from within, I will hold my breath and wait for those systematic changes.

If the Peace Corps was truly out for us, why would be having a hearing?


By Beth Yehaskel (cs24342-55.austin.rr.com - on Tuesday, February 24, 2004 - 10:33 am: Edit Post

"For former volunteers who try to tell me how to behave, after going through what I have been through with that agency is a crime." Actually, it's not a crime. It's a first amendment right for people to voice their opinion even if you don't agree with it.

This dialogue is clearly not one that is developing intellectually. I see a a handful of people cheering because PC is being "challenged" and the possibility exists for the organization to be humiliated publicly. Some of you have invented reasons for why other people(like myself) are defending PC, when actually I'm just defending it because I feel that the article and many of your arguments are inaccurate, and are only pulling efforts away from actually improving safety. You haven't convinced me that you care about volunteers as much as most people do. You have convinced me that you care about yourself. You have convinced me that you're angry, and that you want justice and revenge in the form of a public stoning. I haven't seen you willing to answer questions and participate in a dialogue that would allow everyone on this board - staffers, victims, and people like myself - to come together with our different experiences and use that combined knowledge to really make a difference. I can't put it any better than another writer did above: "Progress is made in spite of you, not because of you."

By daniel (0-1pool136-71.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Tuesday, February 24, 2004 - 11:27 am: Edit Post

Hearings are progress.

By nijma (dsc01-chc-il-209-109-240-98.rasserver.net - on Tuesday, February 24, 2004 - 10:50 pm: Edit Post

And all those staffers had to perform sexual favors for host country nationals in order to complete their service with honor?

By Beth Yehaskel (cs24342-55.austin.rr.com - on Wednesday, February 25, 2004 - 2:14 am: Edit Post

Njima, you only support my point that this dialogue has lost all intellectual and productive value.

By daniel (0-1pool136-38.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Wednesday, February 25, 2004 - 1:06 pm: Edit Post

We will be going public now with our concerns, that is to the private sector and the media for coverage on how Peace Corps treats volunteers.


By nijma (dsc06-chc-il-209-109-243-18.rasserver.net - on Thursday, February 26, 2004 - 10:24 am: Edit Post

A special thank you to the Senators, the Congressmen, the unnamed people who work on this behind the scenes, and to all the former volunteers who shared their personal experiences.

By atiah thomas assibi ( on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 4:12 pm: Edit Post

I have the desire to be one of the volunteers.How do I go about it:?

By Volunteer ( on Tuesday, December 01, 2009 - 7:20 pm: Edit Post

Lawyers office for Safety issue Victims: There, all that arguement and controvesy and someone wants a challenge. They want to join the Peace Corps. This is why this discussion is important. Peace Corps should have a lawyers office for Volunteers and their families

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