August 2, 2005: Headlines: Speaking Out: Military: Intelligence Issues: Washington Post: Peace Corps Option for Military Recruits Sparks Concerns

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Special Reports: August 2, 2005: Headlines: Speaking Out: Military: Intelligence Issues: Washington Post: Peace Corps Option for Military Recruits Sparks Concerns
Military Option sparks concerns Date: August 21 2005 No: 713 Top Story: Military Option sparks concerns
The U.S. military, struggling to fill its voluntary ranks, is allowing recruits to meet part of their reserve military obligations after active duty by serving in the Peace Corps. Read why there is opposition to the program among RPCVs. Director Vasquez says the agency has a long history of accepting qualified applicants who are in inactive military status. John Coyne says "Not only no, but hell no!" and RPCV Chris Matthews leads the debate on "Hardball." Latest: Avi Spiegel says Peace Corps is not the place for soldiers while Coleman McCarthy says to Welcome Soldiers to the Peace Corps. RPCVs: Take our Poll.

These are the results of our poll of RPCVs and Friends of the Peace Corps on the "Military Option." The poll ran from August 11 to August 22, 2005. Leave your comments below on why you voted as you did.

Peace Corps Online

By donbeck ( on Wednesday, August 10, 2005 - 5:27 am: Edit Post

This is another example of how little Bush and gang don't understand the whole purpose of PC. It is just an example of a continuing push to make everything American international be war-oriented. Eisenhower warned of the military industrial complex. Sadly our economic indentity has gained control of our governing identity. Money not peace rules all.

I believe more strongly than ever that one-to-one people can make the world a peacful place, but, that politics as it exists now chooses not to.

By LCLARK ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 3:10 pm: Edit Post

Rather than sullying the reputation of the Peace Corps, established over many years throughout the world, assign these able bodied souls to repair and rebuild the crumbling infrastructure of the United States.

By CarmenBailey ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 4:07 pm: Edit Post

When one lives abroad for any length
of time it becomes embarrassingly
obvious: that the masses of Americans
don't know that America abuses the rest
of the world; well thought of reporters
like Peter Jennings don't talk about it
only around the frayed edges just enough
to let you think they have talked about it;
that it is not a topic of interest to the
masses nor to advertisers; that America is
the only feared large nation on the Planet;
that America is the only nation using WeaponsOfMassDestruction; that the
present administration will definitely
continue on its present course of doing
more Warmongering but now from within too.

That we need to keep voicing these facts in
order to amass more aware Persons; that we
need to make louder demands on the next
presidential candidate.

On a personal note... it was hard enough
to cause my PCV Tanzania families: to understand
that I did not think what the progressing war
image of President Reagan revealed; that I was not CIA. And later when I lived in Ethiopia on my own for seven years to try to explain asked for reasons why President Bush ran around the globe to maim, kill and demolish, and wanted countries to do what he wanted with no regard to what he said democracy was. They saw the difference.

I could not now have the pride of being selected
for the position of WorldPeaceManager in my
village when American soldiers have the right
to overrule the peace that I have incurred.

As to PeaceCorps having the right of refusal
of Warmongerism [I think 21 years later the pertinent question on the application form refered to 'fanaticism'] in an applicant]...
State Department runs PeaceCorps and what could it be expected to want?

By Jerry Foster ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 4:24 pm: Edit Post

As one who served in the PeaceCorps during Viet Nam after spending four years in the US Navy, I understand the differences in philosophy and values of the two organizations AND I understand the difficulties of explaining to our overseas hosts that I was no longer a military person even though I was still in the Naval Reserves. (I did not receive any "reserve credit" for my PeaceCorp service and would not have wanted it!)
Is there no underhanded trick that the Bush administration won't try, or no American institution that it won't destroy, in order to achieve its political goals?

By Phil Lacy ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 4:31 pm: Edit Post

I have no problem with former members of the military serving as a Peace Corps volunteer or vice versa. However, to link the two gives the perception that there is a direct link between the Dept. of Defense and the Peace Corps. I see nothing but problems for the Peace Corps and its volunteers in such an arrangement.

By Conrad jl PC62 ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 4:36 pm: Edit Post

Sir--as a PC doc 40 years ago working in Africa, and in many other countries since that time, there is no question, the PC should have no affiliation with the US military. They are separate programs. Bushites should have sent in the PC to middle east for 50 years before they tried military solution. The middle east needs an education system in all countries. Democracy does not work where you have an ignorant populace. It barely works here in US where our political system is up for sale every 4 years.

By Abbie Schwaderer ( on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 4:50 pm: Edit Post

I spent my entire service building up trust and developing strong friendships and working relationships with people in my town. And I was treated by many people like a member of their family. I was protected, watched over, and people were excited when I visited them (or jealous when I visited their neighbors). The personal relationships I had and still maintain are what made my Peace Corps experience so magical.

I think that one of the reasons that I was able to develop such strong and lasting relationships with people in my town was that people could draw a clear line between Peace Corps volunteers and U.S. foreign policy. People in my town knew that I was there working with the community, and that I had no hidden agenda.

By allowing active-duty servicemen and women to serve in the Peace Corps, we may damage that trust and hinder or even endanger future volunteers as they try to integrate themselves into their new Peace Corps towns. Trust is fragile --especially when you are an outsider and you're just trying to overcome cultural mistakes you've made without even realizing it.

I was a PCV in Honduras, where I almost never heard anti-American sentiments and where there is currently a large U.S. military presence. While this military option would be harmful to the Peace Corps' program in Honduras, I think it would be simply distasterous in other parts of the world where Americans are less popular.

By Clifford Lutton, Ph.D. ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 4:52 pm: Edit Post

If this happens all PCV's will be thought to be actual or potential members of the U. S. military. That would be contrary to the goals of the Peace Corps as I understand them and probably counterproductive even from a military point of view, affecting adversely members of military intelligence who might slip in under deep cover to become PCV's. They would lose that cover and be as suspect as all other PCV's. The Peace Corps should strive effectively to establish and maintain a credible image as a movement contributing to peaceful international relations, of intelligent, enlightened self-interest, not of military expedience.

By Maggie McQuaid ( on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 4:57 pm: Edit Post

Okay, for years I've lived with the fact that my two years in the Peace Corps (plus two additional years as a VISTA vounteer) have been ignored and unacknowledged by our government. Nearing my retirement, my four years of national service do not garner me the same points on my retirement credit with the State system as do the four years my coworker spent as an Army clerk in Texas in the late 70's. I have a medical condition which is a direct result of my Peace Corps service, which is going to necessitate major surgery in November, yet this "service related condition" is not covered by any government insurance.

I guess what I mean is that "opportunities for national service" have always been around, but that those of us who went ahead and volunteered have gotten nothing in return, except for our memories and the personal convition that we did something right. But now that the boys in blue are coming up short in thier recruitment numbers, things look very different indeed.

It reminds me of an old bit of doggerel by Rudyard Kipling: "It's Tommy this, and Tommy that, and chuck him out, the brute! But it's "savior of his country" when the guns begin to shoot." Rudy was writing about the abuse given to former servicemen, but to me, the message is the same. Our work and sacrifices have been all but ignored by the government, but now all of a sudden, what the Peace Corps does is seen as just another commodity for the war machine.

I would rather continue to be ignored and unacknowledged than to have the Peace Corps turned into an adjunct of the military. To say "hell, no" is too mild by far.

Maggie McQuaid RPVC,, Honduras

By Don Briddell ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 5:18 pm: Edit Post

If a volunteer whats to quit the PC and join the military, FINE. But never comingle PC blood and Miliatary blood. In the eyes of host nationals during the sixties when I served in South America, any PC connection (real or unreal, percieved or imaginary) with the military by the host nationals was a cause for their alarm and concern, to the point our work coming to a crashing hault. CIA infiltration of PC was bad enough and caused volunteers no end of anxiety. The PC is the virgin bride and needs to stay that way. I can't express sufficiently how unwise, ill-concieved, and outright stupid is this idea .

Don Briddell RPCV Ecuador 1967-1969

By Anonymous ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 5:18 pm: Edit Post

A Peace Corps option for our military is the closest thing I can imagine as a coup de grace for Peace Corps . . . maybe that is their intent.

We were in PC 1965-67 and we saw our host nationals' reaction to some new PCVs, upon being asked "how do you like it here" and the response was "well, it is better than Vietnam." That was not pleasing to the host nationals, and I would add, those volunteers were not effective.

By R.Robinson ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 5:23 pm: Edit Post

Having myself gone from the military (Army) to the Peace Corps (Jamaica 90-92), I know that the transition is possible. I served with the highest dedication to the mission of Peace Corps as I did to my service with the Army. I am extremely proud of both. What would concern me, however, would be a policy that opens the door from one to the other and creates a connection between the two. What protects you as a soldier is the public knowledge that you are not alone. You are a part of a larger powerful force. What protects you as a Peace Corps Volunteer is the public perception that you are alone and serving and living under hardship out of the goodness of your heart.

By Milton J. Bennett ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 5:26 pm: Edit Post

Like many PCVs during the Vietnam War years (Micronesia 68-70), I had to assure people constantly that the PC was not the CIA. I made these assurances sincerely, believing that even a government that lied to us about Vietnam would seek its self-interest in maintaining a purely "peaceful" route to international relations. In its commitment to the invasion of Iraq and its larger agenda in the Middle East, the Bush administration apparently is willing to sacrifice the last purely peaceful channel it has in the world. This is a very, very bad idea -- if it prevails, it is the death knell of JFK's Peace Corps. I suspect that is the goal.

By Ronald Roy ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 5:26 pm: Edit Post

Keep the Peace Corps for civilians, we are not a military organization nor a spy agency...we are there to learn and to help.

By Sheri S. Mann ( on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 5:40 pm: Edit Post

I absolutely am not in favor of linking military (in any way shape or form) to the Peace Corps. As a matter of fact, in training we are told to never get involved with military, politics or religion while serving. I was in Niger, West Africa when the Gulf War broke out. It was a tense time because we didn't know if Niger was going to support the US (PCV's can stay) or not support the US (evacuation for PCV's). Niger supported the US but not everyone agreed and there was much perception that PCV's were in the military. It was dangerous.

It will be dangerous for future PCV's if this happens.

By Terry Regan ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 5:44 pm: Edit Post

When I was a PC on the island of Antigua in the Eastern Caribbean, 1968-70, there was a US tracking station on the island with US military and a PX and all. Volunteers could not even enter this military base. One volunteer did meet some soldiers stationed at the base who were living off base. There was a party at this off base residence and it was the only time I encountered these soliders. These enlisted soldiers did not know any local people and hated the different and so sad compared to our volunteer experience. It took PC volunteers some effort to convince the local people that we were not rich Americans and not like these soldiers.

By Andrew Winters ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 5:44 pm: Edit Post

Oh great, now the Bush bunch is going to give an incentive for the military to join Peace Corps. Peace Corps volunteers serve in a constant state of having to explain to their host country friends and colleagues that they are not with the CIA or otherwise affiliated with official USG policy. Now they are going to have to explain that new PCVs are there to avoid any further military service. This will make PCVs much more vulnerable at a time when our international reputation is already in the cesspool. How ironic, too, since RPCVs were not immune to the draft during the war in Vietnam. Now it's "bring 'em on" time for the military, further blurring the carefully eked out definition of what a PCV is. The chickenhawk Bush once more shows us how tough he can be when it is other people he is putting at risk.

By Anonymous ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 6:02 pm: Edit Post

It was bad enough being suspected as CIA or, worse, DEA (I served in Central America). Now we add military. This ploy to recruit cannon-fodder for imperial adventures is despicable.

By Benedict Tisa ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 6:16 pm: Edit Post

I am an RPCV, ex staff PC and a Viet Nam Vet. I joined the Peace Corps after the military and not a as a part of my military service. I am completly against this crazy plan to make PC part of military service. It is not good for the Peace Corps. It will put Peace Corps Volunteers at risk in a dangeous world becoming more dangerous because of this administrations reckless policies

By Stewart R. King ( on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 6:39 pm: Edit Post

I'm certainly no fan of the war and I never served in the military so I don't have an axe to grind here but I support the proposed policy.

The first RPCV I ever met was my junior high school social studies teacher, Mike Helm. He had served two tours in Vietnam as a Marine rifleman, then joined PC and did five years in Uganda and Kenya. I thought the combination made him about the coolest person I had ever met. Even from my greying and mid-40's perch in academia, I don't think there's anything wrong with PC accepting military veterans or even people with undischarged military reserve obligations. In fact, everyone who has ever served in the military is subject to recall in time of national emergency, so carrying the logic of excluding them out would exclude a large proportion of our eligable manpower -- people who have already demonstrated a willingness to give up a few years for their country's service. Let's give them a more useful way to serve! :-)

Stewart King
Guinea 89-92

By Peter Wright ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 6:40 pm: Edit Post

Even Republican Directors under Reagan, the first Bush, etc. have embraced and furthered the goals of the Peace Corps as it is clearly good for all Americans as is.

It takes the lunatic fringe to think of this underhanded way of destroying the Peace Corps purpose and credibility for an extremely narrow political agenda.

RPCV 1976-78 and former PC Staff

By John F. Bauer ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 7:04 pm: Edit Post

I don't know what the big deal is. I was a Volunteer in the 60s, got drafted when I returned to the states (age 25) and did a tour of combat duty in Vietnam. My Peace Corps experience did not interfere with my job as a soldier. Similarly, I believe that a soldier's experience will not affect his job as a Volunteer. Every American, reservist or not, deserves a chance to serve in the Peace Corps upon successful training. I detect an elitist atmosphere among many RPCVs. It's time to see the big picture.

By Jim Jackson ( on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 7:11 pm: Edit Post

I was a PCV in India, 1965-67. I was in the U.S. Army in Vietnam, 1969-70. I can assure you that Peace Corps service and military service do not mix, and should be completely separate and apart. There were always suspicions by host country nationals that the Peace Corps was an arm of the CIA, or some other secret U.S. intelligence agency, and that our purpose was to spy on and otherwise undermine our host country. Not everyone believed that, or at least gave us the benefit of the doubt, and we were able to work with those people and accomplish some things, and in the process enrich our lives and change the way we saw the world. But gaining that trust and qualified acceptance in the host country was always an iffy proposition. All of that will disappear completely with the military option. The Peace Corps as we have known it will cease to exist. PCVs will not be believed, will not be trusted, and in some places, it will be open season on them. Body bags will follow.

By Anonymous ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 7:18 pm: Edit Post

There were former military members in my PCV class, and they were fully committed to the goals of the Peace Corps. It's unfair to discriminate against those who would like to serve their country via the PC. You must remember, many people who join the military are not war-mongering, red state Republicans. Often, military recruites are young people looking for a way to pay for college and escape American poverty.

By Pat Warwick ( on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 7:40 pm: Edit Post

Oil and water. They don't mix. Neither does Bush's political agenda and PC. Keep them separate so PC may continue to serve the world PEACEFULLY. Western Samoa 87-90)

By pcvjames ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 7:50 pm: Edit Post

I was military prior to my Peace Corps stint and my feeling is that we do need that "bright line" of seperation so there is never any question in that local person's mind as to why you are there. The Peace Corps is still an option once you've seperated from service but blurring that line endangers volunteers who can be working in some pretty hairy places. I don't see this legislation as a slippery slope to volunteers with sidearms and the CIA in every mud hut but it is just a bad idea that would unneccesarily place doubt in foreign minds and make it harder for a volunteer to not only work in a community, but to work safely in a community. It's hard enought out there already.

By Faring Touray ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 7:51 pm: Edit Post

Who is the pinhead that suggested this. It is very simply a bad idea.

Military and Peace Corps are two very distinct organizations. Yes, individuals should (and do) serve in both sometimes. But, is astonishingly short-sighted to put volunteers at risk by tarnishing (blurring) the image of the PC organization.

Being in the Peace Corp is dangerous and the men and women who serve in at are brave. (Person for person do military personnel or PCVs have a great impact as keepers of the peace? How about per taxpayer dollar?)

Why put PCV lives in danger without any credible benefit.

Any peanut brain that does not feel this would make PC service more dangerous needs to go wander the streets of an African nation the night before elections.

I guess if PCVs get in trouble they can just throw their Tevas at someone really, really hard.

By Anonymous ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 8:03 pm: Edit Post

I think what disturbs me most about this is that it is now, rather than before the legislation passed, that we are having this discussion. It is not reassuring that legislation such as this can be buried in some other bill and (apparently) avoid notice for three years even by the agency responsible for its implementation.

By Tad Baldwin ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 8:16 pm: Edit Post

It's hard to believe that this administration had not already hit every low note possible. To mix war with peace shows the same lack of sensitivity and wisdom that has led to the disaster of Iraq. Hands off one of the few good programs government has enacted since the New Deal. Tad Baldwin, Ecuador 63-65

By Linda Robinson ( on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 8:34 pm: Edit Post

With interest in military service waning, the Bush administration appears to be groping for straws. Probably, this tactic is an attempt to polish the tainted and tarnished U.S. military image, by associating the military with a praiseworthy, reputable program such as the Peace Corps. A bad move like this, opens the door to the introduction of covert hank-panky through a program known historically for its peaceful, cultural exchanges and mutual trust. I continue to be disappointed at this administration's deleterious and ill-conceived decisions.

By Ronald L. Kuykendall ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 9:03 pm: Edit Post

Peace Corps should be a choice and a commitment, not a means of avoiding another commitment. It was a bad idea for it to be a way to avoid the draft in my time and it is a bad idea for the same reason now.

By John Smart ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 9:20 pm: Edit Post

It is clear from the attached poll and these messages that those of us who've had the PC experience are very clear that this connection between Peace Corps and the "War Corps" is a terrible idea.
Also, it seems clear that a large majority of PCVs are progressives, rather than conservatives, and I wonder whether they started that way or were converted by the experience. Just musing...
John Smart
Uzbekistan III

By Anonymous ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 9:39 pm: Edit Post


By Mike Shandroff ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 9:53 pm: Edit Post

Our lives were threatened, while serving PC in the Philippines '95-'97. The locals who trusted us were the reason we felt safe enough to stay. If they thought we might have been linked to the military, I belive there would have been much less cooperation, trust and safety for my wife and I. We would not have joined the Peace Corps in that situation, and certainly would not have stayed after being threatened.

By TKS RPCV Paraguay ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 10:10 pm: Edit Post

A few thoughts:

1. While I am a big supporter of both our military troops and Peace Corps Volunteers, these two organizations should not be linked. If a former member of the military wants to join the Peace Corps, he or she should be encouraged to do so. He or she should not, however, be allowed to serve the nonactive duty part of their military obligation in the Peace Corps. This sets a very dangerous precedent.

2. The attacks on the Bush administration on this message board are largely unwarranted. The legislation was co-authored by Senators Bahy and McCain. Bayh may very well be the democratic front-runner during the next presidential campaign. This is a bipartisan blunder.

3. It was been noted that the Peace Corps was unaware of the provision until after it became law. Who at headquarters was asleep at the wheel?

By Anonymous ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 10:12 pm: Edit Post

Are we running out of cannon fodder? This is just another military recruiting gimmick. What an utterly stupid idea! I served in Haiti where our safety was a concern 24-7. To mix Peace Corps and military is asking for trouble big time. Let Bush send Jenna and Barbara to work as a military/Peace Corps in some god forsaken place and see how he feels about it AFTERWARDS.

By Nancy Sanchez-Spears ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 10:26 pm: Edit Post

As an RPCV Morocco '73-'76 I am very concerned that this might be an option. We were continuously asked if we were involved with the CIA or military in some way. The nationals who were close friends and colleagues had no concerns because they knew us. Others were as suspicious as our citizens are of foreign born individuals who work and reside in the United States. It is lack of experience and fear of the unknown that continues this mistrust. If all citizens could meet the high standards for Peace Corps service, I believe that the experience could change the perception of U. S. citizens in the world. I think our national mentality toward the rest of the world and our responsibilities as members of the global community would be greatly enhanced and improved.

By Anonymous ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 11:18 pm: Edit Post

A couple of thoughts:

1. Contrary to what one person wrote above Peace Corps is NOT run by the State Department. Peace Corps tries to have as little affiliation with DOS as possible, again to limit the perceived bonds between the USG as a political arm represented by DOS and PC as a humanitarian arm of the USG.

2. PC HQ has the ultimate say: they must draw a fine line between funding support and sticking to its belief of a separation of the services. It can always deny applicants.

3. Having worked as a PCV (Mauritania 1987-91) in a village where there were French "cooperants" and French Military advisors, it was nice that the villagers knew that we were not the same...

4. Having worked as a staff member in Africa from 1993 to 2000, I can also appreciate the perception that we were separate. In Burundi, while tracking down PCVs to evacuate them, I was stopped by armed soldiers no older than 20, and quite possibly could have died, but when I told them about Peace Corps, one of the soldiers said "Oh yeah, Peace Corps, John may go" Had he thought I might have been a soldier, things might have been different.

5. That said, I also have the higest admiration for our men and women in uniform. They may not agree with what they do, but that is their business. Maybe they do agree. But they follow lawful orders, and if one of them is that they may do "civilian" type service, it is their right to choose that.

6. Besides, maybe PC can show them that being a Veteran of Foreign Peace is a worthy goal...

By Ron Rivera ( on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 10:59 pm: Edit Post

I fully agree with Carmen Bailey and during my two 3 year terms with Peace Corps ran into the same issues. To me its basic...
You join PEACE CORPS not WAR CORPS (Armed forces) let not mix the two up.

I thought that since PC was establish through a Congresional Act it would have to go to Congress to change it.

By Cal Jones ( - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 10:55 pm: Edit Post

I am an RPCV (West Africa 65-66). The Peace Corps from the beginning has been unique among organizations serving in foreign countries: it does not employ trained killers or spies... nor reformed killers or spies... nor persons who seem connected in some way to the military or the CIA. I met many people overseas from other organizations and it was very common to find that each organization had a government spy with an agenda very different from the stated organization mission. People also commonly suspected the Peace Corps was no different, but I never suspected one volunteer or staff person of being such a spy. I do not think any were or, to my knowledge or suspicion, are at this time. Our constitution and way of life is rather unique in the world too... mainly because for the most part we practice and live the laws that derive from the constitution. No we are not perfect in this regard, but it is always important to try. Trying to keep the Peace Corps pristine toward its original mission is just as important... and even more so today in light of the fact so much of the world considers our society as being a warmongering one. It is a no-brainer: keep the military out of the Peace Corps. Surely there are other roles for decent minded militarily trained people... as someone already mentioned, maybe tending to our infrastructure... or even roads and bridges overseas, but not Peace Corps.

By Pam Rock ( on Friday, August 12, 2005 - 8:43 am: Edit Post

This idea is like asking a soldier to "serve 2 masters". If a soldier is completing military service, then the military is his master. In times of "emergency"-which is now-The Peace Corps part of his work will go by the wayside. And the reputation of the Peace Corps with it.
Man, was it hard to establish a true relationship with the Guatemalans when I served in the PC. They'd had enough of US "intervention" by the time I arrived in country in the early '90's. They were rightfully apprehensive of working with ANY US program, Peace Corps or not.
Include those completing military service as volunteers? Forget it. They don't have a chance.... Their 2 years of service will be over by the time they convince Guatemalans they are not going to intrud upon them.
Americorps is a great idea. That way we'd have more forces protecting Americans on American soil.
I wouldn't have joined the Peace Corps if it was associated with the military.

By Clark Efaw ( on Friday, August 12, 2005 - 8:25 am: Edit Post

I would really like to see us move the debate away from what kind of people the soldiers and ex-military are. They are a diverse group – in fact the military has done a much better job of promoting diversity than the Peace Corps has. They are adaptable and trainable, at least as much as are fresh college graduates. If they make it into the Peace Corps, then they got there because they are qualified and motivated to serve. Peace Corps frankly should welcome the diversity that a pool of qualified veterans would bring. There are veterans serving in Peace Corps now, and there have been for decades. As long as the rules for getting in and staying in the Peace Corps don’t change, reservists can bring an excellent set of skills, attitude and coping ability into the mix. We don't need to act like we're being contaminated.

By Larry Rublee ( on Friday, August 12, 2005 - 8:20 am: Edit Post

I am an RPCV (India 68-70, village level food production). I was accused several times of being associated with CIA. This hindered my effectiveness working with farmers, by raising suspicion of my motives and those of Peace Corps. Mixing military or intelligence gathering in any form with Peace Corps is a terrible idea and totally counter to its mission.

By Ken Schilling ( - on Friday, August 12, 2005 - 5:48 am: Edit Post

Because of its military connotation, the term "corps" in Peace Corps raised concern and doubt in the minds of some nationals when I served as a PCV in Liberia ('63-'65), requiring repeated assurances of no linkage with the US military. To now create such a linkage will surely awaken old suspicions and unnecessarily arouse distrust toward volunteers in the field. This seems ill advised in today's more dangerous world.

By Bettina Kolker ( - on Friday, August 12, 2005 - 4:41 am: Edit Post

NO,NO,NO!! The Bush Administration has already endangered the lives of countless humanitarians by mixing the message of aid with military intervention. This is especially pertinent as I'm about to embark on my first mission with Medecins Sans Frontieres whose frontline efforts are continually jeopardized by these mindless policies.

Military personnel while still reservists have no business in Peace Corps and volunteers worldwide will be enormously compromised if such individuals are allowed to serve. It is outrageous to pollute the message we bring to the world as PCV's in such a blatent politically driven manner.

By Orlando Mayfield ( - on Friday, August 12, 2005 - 1:49 am: Edit Post

I was drafted in 1972 (Viet Nam Era)after student deferments were discontinued for those attending college. I served my time, returned to college, completed my BA, and then, after completing my MA,I joined the Peace Corps and taught English in Senegal and Cameroon (81-84). During my time in the Peace Corps, volunteers often had to contend with host country suspicions and concerns of our possible involvement with covert military or espionage agencies of the US government. What is beginning discussed here would destroy the integrity of the Peace Corps mission. Orlando Mayfield

By Cliff Maat ( - on Friday, August 12, 2005 - 1:44 am: Edit Post

The Peace Corps should be kept SEPARATE from the US military.

If you consider the issue in domestic (USA) terms, then the military service proposal doesn't matter much. I doubt that there will be any real interference from the military.

Consider, though, the perception of the host country nationals. Most live in countries with less freedom of speech, much less access to information, and more reason to doubt "official" pronouncements and policies.

Achieving one of the main goals of Peace Corps - Improving the understanding of Americans by host country nationals - is difficult enough, given the (understandable) suspicion that the Peace Corps has a hidden agenda. Formally linking the Peace Corps with the US military will make this problem worse.

By James R. Day ( - on Friday, August 12, 2005 - 1:23 am: Edit Post

Definitely not a good idea!!!!

By carol belanger ( - on Friday, August 12, 2005 - 10:13 am: Edit Post

The Peace Corps community has always prided itself on being open, unbiased and welcoming diversity. I personally served with a volunteer who was ex-military and he didn't go out and shoot people while he was a volunteer. We also had Dutch volunteers who had the option of volunteering or the military. They were fine volunteers. I think a well thought out program could benefit both organizations.

By Larry Romsted ( - on Friday, August 12, 2005 - 9:53 am: Edit Post

The Peace Corps purpose was always to provide support for non military assistance to foreign countries. Formally tying military service to Peace Corps service makes that goal a lie.

By Larry Flemming ( on Friday, August 12, 2005 - 9:51 am: Edit Post

Near the end of my service in Gabon (96-98) a new PCV finished training and became a good volunteer. He had recently mustered out of the Army as a captain. The fact that he had been in the military previously was certainly not a negative. In fact, his previous experience dealing with many other foreign organizations and individuals probably was a great asset in dealing with the more dysfunctional aspects of life in central Africa.

Since leaving Peace Corps, I have had a couple of jobs where I have worked closely with active duty military personnel, some of whome were RPCVs. As with any organization, the military is comprised of many individuals. Some of those individuals woud not be good PCVs. Of course that statement is true of our society in general. Looking at the early termination rate, it can be argued that there are a fair number of Peace Corps Volunteers who aren't good for Peace Corps either.

On the other hand, I have met several military people who would probably become excellent PCVs and some of whome are interested in doing so. Why shouod they be treated any differently than any other group?

The US military is actually one of the most diverse organizatons in this country. Perhaps Peace Corps could come closer to it's goals of increasing volunteer diverstiy by accepting more former military folks.

Why is there such a ground swell of antaganosim toward potential future volunteers who may have served in the military?

By Anonymous ( on Friday, August 12, 2005 - 9:47 am: Edit Post

I served as a PCV in India, then volunteered to serve with the Red Cross in Vietnam. I agree that the PC and military should be separate, but allowing the military to serve as PCV at the end of their service appears to be a done deal. While I am not a fan of George Bush, I think Peace Corps HQ and the RPCV organizations should have known about this before.

Perception is very important and the connection between the Peace Corps and the military will hurt the Peace Corps. I think the important thing now is to make sure that only qualified volunteers are chosen for the Peace Corps, and that PC HQ needs RPCV oversight.

By Jonathan R.C. Green ( - on Friday, August 12, 2005 - 9:30 am: Edit Post

During the Vietnam War, some young men entered the Peace Corps as a means of avoiding the draft (the Selective Service System accepted Peace Corps service as a deferment from induction).
Unlike them, when my draft lottery number came up (it was 38), I chose to enlist in the Army as a medic. When the (3-year) active duty portion of my enlistment expired, I entered the Peace Corps and spent 2 wonderful years working in Malaria Control in Thailand. The Army accepted my service in the Peace Corps as fulfilling part of the inactive reserve component of my 6-year total military service obligation.
Are you all saying I should have been disqualified from the Peace Corps because of my prior military service?

By Lee Sokol ( on Friday, August 12, 2005 - 11:24 am: Edit Post

I think Peace Corps needs to stay completely separate from both the military and intelligence organization. I remember in our training in Thailand (back in '83), we were warned to not wear clothes like combat fatigues because of Thais' memories of all the GIs stationed there during the Vietnam War.

Interesting question: Military veterans get lots of benefits after their service; PC volunteers don't. If military people finish their service in the Peace Corps, will they get benefits that the other volunteers don't?

By Jody Duncan ( - on Friday, August 12, 2005 - 12:12 pm: Edit Post

Not a good idea for the obvious reasons stated above. And as it regards my own experiences, if this practice had already been in effect, I doubt if Russia would have even allowed a Peace Corps program in their country in the first place. And try explaining that accross a language barrier your first month a site: "No, no, I'm not with the military. Well yeah, that other PCV accross the street is, but that's just coincidence. The Peace Corps has nothing to do with the military...sort of."

By Rachel Cooke ( on Friday, August 12, 2005 - 3:14 pm: Edit Post

My biggest concern is that military recruits will want to join PC just to get out of Ready Reserve time (2 yrs in PC vs. 4.5 in RR) -- which is not the intention we want PCVs to join with. Once they're overseas w/PC their attitude will be apparent to everyone they work and live with ('I'm just here to get out of my military requirements') , which is not the kind of attitude we want to PCVs to have.

By Charles Forbus ( - on Friday, August 12, 2005 - 8:05 pm: Edit Post

I was in the Air Force for 6 years, 2 inactive, and I had 2 tours in Peace Corps. Believe me the philosophies are totlly different. In the military you are a soldier defending the US against our enemies. In Peace corps you are a person sent to a country to share our culture and values with their citizens, to understand and bring that country's culture and values back to the States to share with US citizens and to use our knowledge to help where we can. The creed is that we are nonpolitical, nonreligious and nongovernmental. For a person to be in Peace Corps as part of the US military would put up a barrier to trust that is already difficult to overcome because of the US government's reputation for covert activity. Many people in foreign countries already believe the Peace Corps is riddled with CIA agents. For Peace Corps to become part of the Department of Defense would be the worst mistake. Keep Peace Corps independent and its mission as it was set up to be 'The Peace Corps' emphasis on PEACE!

By Anonymous ( - on Saturday, August 13, 2005 - 3:00 pm: Edit Post

Linking the PC and the military is a disastrous policy that will endanger future PCVs, but not a surprise. There are no lower depths that the current administration can reach that would surprise me. I sign "Anonymous" in recognition of the fact that while our leaders talk endlessly about extending "liberty" to the rest of the world, they are busy destroying it at home.

By Brenda Almodóvar ( - on Saturday, August 13, 2005 - 5:12 pm: Edit Post

I think this whole idea of linking Peace Corps with the militar forces is just nonsense. Completely ironic. Just because I don't think we would never reach peace trough war.

I am an RPCV from Panama. I was there from 1998 to 2000, and a lot of Panamanians still associated Amercians and even Puerto Ricans with the US Army and the military basis that left that country in that decade (and that is without taking into account the " CIA-PC relation" that some people believed).

The Peace Corps experience was so unique, so beautiful, so full of cross cultural sharing and cross cutural understanding that doing that linkage is just an absurd.

By Peter, Benin 80-82 ( - on Saturday, August 13, 2005 - 4:48 pm: Edit Post

No matter where one stands in the political spectrum, it should be clear that placing active-duty military in the Peace Corps is disastrous for the independence of the organization and for the safety and effectiveness of the volunteers. I would add that military personnel should not be encouraged to use the Peace Corps as a refuge from serving their full terms of duty. This dishonors them, the Peace Corps, and the US military at the same time. The only rational put forward is that it may improve enlistment rates--a very weak argument indeed.

What is most disappointing is Peace Corps Director Vasquez' endorsement of this idea. He should be ashamed of himself.

By RPCVNica ( - on Sunday, August 14, 2005 - 8:37 am: Edit Post

It's amazing to me that when your back is up against the wall what you will do to get recruits.
What others promises will be made next? As a RPCV, I remember one of the first questions asked to me was if I was apart of the CIA or the DEA. I clearly explained although the Peace Corps was funded by the government, we had nothing to do with them. People accepted my explanation but some still joked about it. These areas are leary of Americans coming in and wanting to help them. It'll just make it worse and your giving them just cause to ask these questions.

Another issue is that it really does take 2yrs to get the acceptance of the area your in and make a sustainable project. People are impressed that we have actually made the commitment to stay for that long. If these reserves could be pulled out of volunteer status whenever, what will that say to the people about Peace Corps commitment to them and their needs?

The two should remain separated.

By Michael Aumack RPCV Panamá ( - on Sunday, August 14, 2005 - 2:39 am: Edit Post

This idea would be a costly SALES GIMMICK to get young people to join the military. It will bring more suspicion on every PCV in the field! Yes, returned service men/women can join PC, but there should not be a direct link between our armed or intelligence services to PC... EVER! If you want to join PC, anyone physically and financially able can just contact PC and do it! Why the military thinks this "PC option" bonus will get more people to join is ludicrous. As an RPCV, I know every volunteer is under suspicion anyway... so why anyone at PC headquarters would accept this direct link between the US military and PC is reprehensible!

By JOHN F. OBRIEN, PERU IV ( - on Sunday, August 14, 2005 - 2:34 pm: Edit Post

As a peace time veteran of the USMC and an early Peace Corps Volunteer (1962, Peru IV) I am strongly against any form of the "mix and match" as proposed. As a nation we seem to be adolescent in our approach to the other cultures in the world and keep thinking that technology can solve problems. Thinking ahead and planning does not seem to be our forte. The whole idea of nation buillding sticks in my craw. To me we are squandering our wealth, especially in terms of the patriots who are serving our country. This proposal further shows that our government neither understands nor appreciates the nature and benefits of Peace Corps service. Having said that, my training and service as a Marine has benefitted me in everything I have done since, especially my service in the Peace Corps.

By Sal and Sylvia Tedesco - Ghana I/Somalia I ( - on Monday, August 15, 2005 - 2:32 pm: Edit Post

We agree with the comment, "not only no, but hell no". We are writing to Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein today.

By Marvin Pettey ( - on Monday, August 15, 2005 - 2:25 pm: Edit Post

During my service time in a "friendly" country which had US military presence, the few negative experiences were invariably linked in some way to the military. When the perception or assumption was that I was military, I was viewed with suspicion and disrespect. I was even spat on.

Even in areas where the people knew me and knew that I was not connected with the military, I was often asked to explain or answer for perceived misconduct by military personnel or loss of face for the home country. Comments like, "Why don't they just go home?" were common.

There has always been suspicion that Peace Corp and CIA were somehow connected. The day my group arrived in country, the press in a neighboring "unfriendly" country, published an article stating that we were CIA. That was over 30 years ago. Imagine in today's political climate the level of concern that will be generated when trained military personel are added to the mix.

Why mix nitrate and ammonia?

Allowing this "combined" service option does not address the recruitment problem in any way that I can forsee. Why not reverse the order: Peace Corp service prior to induction and military training? Too humanizing I suspect...

By Anonymous ( on Monday, August 15, 2005 - 7:58 pm: Edit Post

This is a bad idea for a few reasons. Any link (real or perceived) between the Peace Corps and the military will undermine the effectiveness of the Peace Corps. It is not only a question of safety; although safety is an important issue. Our volunteers, staff, host-agencies, counterparts and facilities would be increasingly targeted under this policy. It’s also disturbing because it’s obviously a political move to align the U.S. military agenda together with the mission of the Peace Corps under the umbrella of “service.” I hardly consider the war on terrorism “service.”

By Harry E. Bennett ( - on Tuesday, August 16, 2005 - 8:24 pm: Edit Post

Having served in Belize (2002-04) my wife and I were accused many times of working for CIA or DEA and we always could deny any involvement. With this program a connection will be made with the military and will make denying relationships with intelligence gathering difficult. Our daughter is currently serving in South America in a politically unstable country and a program like this causes me some concern for her safety. With all the money and effort that PC has spent on increasing security and safety for volunteers in recent years this program seems like "foot shooting". My motivation to join PC in my 50's was to promote peace and love in a world that is growing weary of the bully-boy Bush!

By Miles Powers ( - on Wednesday, August 17, 2005 - 10:58 pm: Edit Post

Hopefully this is a joke.

I'm unable, however, to find a punch line.

(University of Honduras professor 1966-1969)

By Joanne Marie Roll (joey) ( - on Thursday, August 18, 2005 - 11:41 am: Edit Post

I fear a backlash against Peace Corps. I fear that the RPCV community will find ourselves targeted as being "Anti-American," of not wanting to help our country at war, of thinking we are "better" than soldiers, "too good to fight."
I am just waiting for Senator Coleman to warm up and the chorus of anti peace corps politicans to start in. Remember, it was our supposed "friends", Senators McCain and Bayh, in a lame duck Congress which the Republicans did not yet control, which passed this legislation. And where are the voices of Senator Dodd and Representative "I will build a firewall for the peace corps" Farr? These are sad days of summer.

By Richard Good ( - on Thursday, August 18, 2005 - 7:38 pm: Edit Post

After reading the debate concerning the Peace Corps Military Option, I voted “very concerned” and, not thinking that I had anything more to add to what was already said, signed off.

The next morning the major headline in El Tiempo, Colombia’s leading newspaper, was “Colombians Break Prices In the Iraqi War”.
In short: A U.S. mercenary contractor claims that Colombians are available to “work” in the Iraqi war for salaries between $2500 to $5000, while the going rate in the U.S. is $10,000. As a result, this company is recruiting Colombians through the Internet and promotes the concept that the recruits will be trained with funds from Plan Colombia “by the SEAL’s of the U.S. Armed Forces and by the DEA in the jungles and rivers of this Country”.

The implications of this article brought to mind several of the issues that had been raised in the Peace Corps Military Option. My vote changed from “very concerned” to deeply worried. I am not certain how much truth there is to these claims, however, if the relationship between the public and the private sector is so dubious, and the relationship between nations is being out sourced as a commodity, how much credibility will agencies within a government retain especially if there are cross overs being made between those with incompatible objectives or intentions. I’m afraid at this rate that Peace Corps will always be suspect as being just another part of the thin edge of the wedge.

Both the Military and the Peace Corps have their purpose and a job to do. Lets make sure we keep them clear and separate.

Richard Good, UCD/ Colombia ‘68

By James W. Gould ( - on Friday, August 19, 2005 - 8:10 pm: Edit Post

The purposes of the military and the Peace Corps are entirely opposed: Both are "service" to the country (I have served in both Army & Peace Corps). But the purpose of the military is to use force, and ultimately to kill. The purpose of the Peace Corps is as its title proclaims: to create peaceful relations with foreign peoples by nonviolent, if not loving, service. Don't let this administration get away with this deception. Jim Gould Malaysia 1964-6

By Greg Walters ( on Saturday, August 20, 2005 - 10:31 pm: Edit Post

Vasquez should resign. We need a director who will put Peace Corps ahead of Junior Bush's plan to destroy the world.

By ( - on Sunday, August 21, 2005 - 9:09 pm: Edit Post

The stereotypical liberal politically correct idea is no association between (R)PCVs and military. Gee, how many volunteers used to go to the Marine guards' house and party, drink free beer, and watch movies when in the capital city? How many PCVs realize that Embassy and military planners know where all PCVs are in case of necessary evacuation? How many PCVs have a friggin' clue of current humanitarian operations which are conducted by the military in numerous countries and actually produce positive results in terms of projects completed, host country nationals served, and long range benefits of military civil action programs versus the stereotypical two year Peace Corps project which leaves great memories but no infrastructural development? How many PCVs actually worked for and under military regimes because that was the political reality in many Host countries; where were the protests about working for/under military governments? The 'Nam era single and dual vets and PCVs may have too much bias from their respective and opposite tours to realize any evolution between the missions of both institutions. When jaded by political leanings, the reaction is "hell no, we won't go"; one can as easily reject that position as a non-thinking political gut reaction. RPCVs, PCVs, and military vets with active duty military personnel have many commonalities which could allow cross training in cultural sensitivity, languages, and assimilation techniques from the Peace Corps side of house, while the military can offer much as to project identification, management, assessment, delivery, and on scene/site support for PCVs. The maintenance of separation for "purity" purposes is BS/sikusikembum(BS in Dogon-Pelani dialect) and political when promoted by someone like Chris Matthews; it is a non-thinking emotional and rhetorical reaction straight from the "Kumba yaah" days. Regardless of institutional affiliation, some anti-Americanism always existed and will continue to exist; don't blame it on Iraq, W, or the military or whatever. I agree with the continued need for intelligence operation separation between Peace Corps and any intelligence agencies; but to deny a military medic who does community health work, give me a break! There are areas of mutual reinforcement which should be researched without emotional outcries about maintaining the "purity" of the Peace Corps or the real Corps, the Marines. Get beyond the political rhetoric which Matthew-ites and kuumbahyah-ers push, and define the areas of complementarity without getting bogged down in the political bias. JFK created and promoted the Peace Corps simultaneously as he promoted the Green Berets and Navy Seals; in certain environments the Peace Corps is a better tool, but usually once secured by the Marine Corps or by political stability. This fabricated tempest in a teapot denies the fact the both bureaucratic institutions, Peace Corps and military, are for national interests' security and foreign relations, both are tools for the same team, not tools against each other. This continued rhetoric denies the fact that American institutions funded by public tax dollars should be mutually supportive; both can teach the other and both can produce positive results in an increasingly difficult globalized community. Work on the same team without getting all bent out of shape by some philosophical "purity" characteristics which never truly existed in either the Peace Corps or the military. Get over "it", the 60s syndrome and get on with it-improve both institutions in a common mission.

Pat Smith RPCV Mali 1977-80; US Navy Diving Officer 1980-1987

By Tim Leifer ( - on Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 4:02 pm: Edit Post

The military is the military...Peace Corps is PEACE Corps...I cannot understand the problem with military developing their OWN voluntary service options, unless the military has some other idea for wanting to USE Peace Corps!!! I do not trust any organization which seeks to subjugate others via violence and neither should the Peace has enough problems subjugating people peacefully!

By Timothy E. Leifer ( - on Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 3:56 pm: Edit Post

The military is the military...Peace Corp is PEACE Corp...I cannot understand the problem with military developing their OWN voluntary service options, unless the military has some other idea for wanting to USE Peace Corps!!! I do not trust any organization which seeks to subjugate others via violence and neither should the Peace has enough problems subjugating people peacefully!

By Rodney Rylander ( - on Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 7:14 pm: Edit Post

People are already volunteering for the peace corps for other than reasons in alignment to the mission. If military reservist can join the Peace Corps in order to avoid active duty, then the mission is being compromised. The fact that APCDs have to have a top secret clearance already puts volunteers at a higher risk. I was in the Air Force and twice in the Peace Corps but there were many years inbetween. There should be a time period between active duty and Peace Corps life.

By Les Everett ( - on Wednesday, August 24, 2005 - 12:29 pm: Edit Post

I do not see how duel recruiting for the military and Peace Corps would be effective for either. The primary incentives for volunteering for the active military are the education benefits, both technical training in the military and financial support for college afterwards. Most Peace Corps assignments require a college degree up front. I was a Viet Nam era Army Medical Service Corps officer (active duty two years), Peace Corps Volunteer (Zaire), and later spent 10 years in Africa doing agricultural research and development. My Army active reserve two-year requirement was waived since I was overseas in the Peace Corps at the time. My incentive for joining the military (as an officer) was to give me some better choices in a draft environment coming out of college, and I have no regrets for that service. International development was my long term goal, so going from the the military to Peace Corps was a natural progression. In today's non-draft environment I would have chosen to go directly to the Peace Corps from college....the joint recruiting strategy would have had no relevance for me as a college graduate. Let's drop the unnecessary and probably ineffective program of joint recruiting, but continue to welcome into Peace Corps people who have served in the military and would like now to contribute in a different way. I know several others who have done so admirably.

By michelepcma ( - on Wednesday, August 24, 2005 - 3:33 pm: Edit Post

I have to agree with most of the above statements that mixing military service with Peace Corps would be a huge mistake. Imagine if people think we are spies now, how will they feel once they hear a person is tied to the military? Also, I suspect that few Peace Corps volunteers fit the personality profile of military types. Most of us are self-moticated have no interest in being told what to do, nor do we function that well in large disciplined units.

I could see that if there was a draft and a person could demonstrate years of social involvement and prove their consciencious objection to violence and war, that person could be encouraged to join PC, subject, of course, to being fully qualified. But I shudder to think of some of the military guys I've known put in situations where they are strongly encouraged to join Islam (some of the guys during my service in Morocco were almost physically assaulted but talked their way out of it), or where someone throws rocks at them simply for being American. God help those 'nationals'.

I am of the Vietman generation and see the difference between the military in the sixties and what it has become under Bush's dictatorship: there is no room for 'love thy neighbor' in the new wave of warmongering and it definitely doesn't fit in with PC philosophy. As it was pointed out, let's keep the PEACE in Peace Corps.

By Jonathon Landeck ( - on Wednesday, August 24, 2005 - 11:15 pm: Edit Post

How about requiring the military recruits to complete two years of service as a Peace Corps Volunteer BEFORE their military service. Maybe, after two years of PC, they would be more inclined to make peace, and less inclined to join the military. Jonathon Landeck (Upper Volta 1979-81)

By Jim Haybyrne ( - on Thursday, August 25, 2005 - 10:38 am: Edit Post

I served as A PCV in India 66-68 then joined the USAF for 2 tours as a Captain for 8 years.I served with many of my PCVs who also served in the military during the Vietnam War.Wish I had reversed the process and could have contributed more.So no need to be threatened by former military...their sacrifice allows you to now have these intellectual chats.They are our brothers and sisters who have made the world a better place.Welcome them!
Jim Haybyrne India 31, Capt.USAF proud of both assignments !

By chole current ( - on Monday, August 29, 2005 - 10:24 pm: Edit Post

there is nothing wrong with having people who served in the military serve later in the peace corps. great! diversity is a wonderful thing and we should, collectively, be representing a wide spectrum of america.

that being said, there should be no connection between the peace corps and the military. you finish one, you do the other. pc should not be an extension of military service. it's not elitist to say that. it's a simple matter of gaining and keeping the trust of the people and government in our host countries. how can anyone believe our goal is simply to help and to learn if they know that being in the pc is a way to finish military service?

the ugly reality is - the us is a military superpower that is not trusted in many parts of the world. just because pc volunteers say they aren't part of the military doesn't mean anyone will believe them. anything they, we, and our government can do to protect the separation between these two services, is in everyone's best interest.

romania 01-03

By Ray Donaldson ( - on Wednesday, September 07, 2005 - 7:36 pm: Edit Post

After passing the bill that allows military recruits to fulfill part of their military obligation by spending two years in the Peace Corps, I've heard it said that Congress "meant well." This makes you aware that intelligence, common sense, and sensitivity to the international scene are NOT requirements for being a member of Congress. This is just plain stupid. Any Peace Corps Volunteer knows that if the Peace Corps is to have any credibility it must be totally isolated from the military and the CIA. Volunteers need to be able to live and work in countries that don't wholeheartedly support US foreign policy and where there may be some unrest. They cannot safely do this if host country nationals can reasonably suspect that volunteers are agents of the US military or CIA.

By Pat Smith ( - on Friday, September 09, 2005 - 12:21 pm: Edit Post

Now that the Peace Corps/Crisis Team has been mentioned to assist in New Orleans operations, I wonder how they are going to get in there? Perhaps with the assistance, coordination, and collaberation of the US Military or national guard. Perfect example how this "quest" for "purity" and separation between military and Peace Corps misses the entire team concept that national security-domestic or international requires people to put aside ideological bias and get on the same team. Some statements here have indeed been just plain stupid; regardless of who, when, where, or how, Volunteers will be seen as Americans and by association by anti-American voices deemed a threat, CIA or military. Prove them wrong was and is the case for past and future Volunteers. If indeed prior military, use that can do attitude to accomplish your projects rather than pontificate about the great experiences that you had whether or not much was accomplished. It is time for koombaya to meet hooyaah/oo-rahs and work together; something that recent American political examples are unwilling or afraid to do. Volunteers and Veterans usually are not afraid to do something unknown or challenging; share that for a greater cause whether it is in New Orleans or a new world.
Pat Smith, RPCV, ex-Lt. USNavy

By Joanne Marie Roll (joey) ( - on Saturday, September 10, 2005 - 12:28 pm: Edit Post

Serving Peace Corps Volunteers are NOT being sent to New Orleans; Crisis Corps is an organization of RPCVs who are not employees of the Peace Corps (unless they have jobs in a differnt capacity) nor are they on Peace Corps rolls as volunteers. They are citizens, who have had service in the Peace Corps, and are volunteering to use the experience again.
It is a totally bogus argument to say this is a blurring of the lines between "active duty" peace corps and the military. (Although this does raise theoretical questions about the use of the Crisis Corps, coordinated by Peace Corps, overseas, which is a discussion for another day.)

Belittling the very real concern that RPCVs have about the inflltration of the military into the Peace Corps by calling this concern a "quest" for "purity" is, as my father, the Colonel, would say "crapola'. RPCVs have an obligation to hold our government accountable and publicly debate the impact of this policy of the safety and security of volunteers and on all the HCNs who do now and have in the past associated with Peace Corps. If we don't, then who will? This is about commitment and integrity of our own government.

Remember, unlike the military, the Peace Corps does not enter foreign countries unless it is invited. The inclusion of military IRRs in the Peace Corps changes the nature of the organization and impacts the terms under which peace corps has been invited into host countries. It is not clear how this change is being presented to potential host countries. Host countries invite Peace Corps Volunteers not Team America.

We still have civilvan control of the military and I am not sure whether inactive reserves and retired still are limited in their ability to speak out and restricted to just advocating the current administration's policies. Again, a topic for another day.

The one ethic both military veterans and RPCVs share is it absolutely better to have served than not. It is good that our own country can benefit from that service, now.

By --jim, RPCV ( - on Tuesday, September 13, 2005 - 4:00 am: Edit Post

As RPCV and exStaff from the 60s, I'm once again appalled.

Every few years, there is a proposal to use PC's success to bolster some other failing cause. Unfortunately it is DANGEROUS to ever comingle PC with ANY Intelligence Gathering or Military operations.

In the 60's ANY such PCV contact with "Intelligence" was grounds for immediate separation and return home -- done once with my group. Separation was written into the original concept.

If an ex-soldier, at some point wants to volunteer as a PCV, I see only minor adjustment problems, if any; to be handled per normal review.

HOWEVER, it would be disasterous to link PC, Intelligence and/or Military within ANY common program. It will cost lives, putting isolated PCVs at real risk -- assuming Peace Corps even survives.

Is there no program this Administration won't destroy and ravage to it's self-serving ugly ends?

This cockamamy proposal, should be rejected out of hand, though it will likely be implemented -- one more destruction of a successful program we hold dear.

No? Hell NO -- of course not!

By John Paskevicz ( - on Monday, September 19, 2005 - 4:15 pm: Edit Post

How did this amendment to a military spending bill get pass the noses of the PC. Most rules developed at the State level require a public notice and comment. Congress is different. If this mindless option (completion of military obligation as a PCV) was public noticed, the outcry from RPCVs would likely have prevented its passage. Congress, obviously, can sneak any kind of language into a bill without consulting anyone. I just can't understand what was going through Bayh and McCain's head when they added this language.
Is it going to be a problem for volunteers? Yes, for both non-veteran PCVs and the veteran PCV. Some of us who served in PC during the height of the Vietnam war can tell a story or two of host country nationals who made a point of reminding us that the US was acting like an imperial state, a colonial power, etc. With comments such as; are you a spy, how much do spies get paid in US dollars? That's a nice camera, do all spies have the same camera? Some of this type of conversation could get real serious. Institutionalizing the connection between PC and the military tells host country nationals that there is a connection between the military and the PC. And today's PCV will have to deal with this issue. Hopefully, the HCN will understand how mindless our legislators can be.
Anyway, I'm not too woried that this "option" available to the IRR soldier will be picked up. PC may not be too attractive to soldiers who have had everything provided for them. Immediate health care and evacuation if sick or wounded; instant communication via satllite phone or radio; personal weapon as a job requirement and for protection; and other unit members to fall back on when lonely or in need of help. Most RPCVs can relate that some of these elements were not available in their postings. I don't know of anyone who carried a weapon, you took care of yourself when sick (and "medevac" was not available), communications was always poor and sometimes not available on the same day or in the same village, and if your posting was in a village chances are you lived alone and far from the nearest got lonely. The transition for todays soldier to complete his/her term of service in the PC is going to be rough.

By mike osborn (majoroz) ( - on Wednesday, October 05, 2005 - 3:16 pm: Edit Post

John says: "The transition for todays soldier to complete his/her term of service in the PC is going to be rough. "

Let me be sure I understand this. You are saying that a GI, who has been through (at a minimum) basic training will have a rougher time than the (typical, so don't get huffy) liberal arts grad.

You need to get out more

oz, USAF '58-'81; PCV, Micro 61, '94-'96

By Wayne I. Newhart ( - on Friday, October 21, 2005 - 8:55 pm: Edit Post

People with prior military service have served in the Peace Corps from its early days. I had two years of active duty in the Army (56-58) and six years in standby reserves. I joined Peace Corps right after my reserve period ended, but I could have joined a year earlier. I see no problem of people in standby reserves joining PC. Their US citizens too, and have much to offer. Of course they need to meet PC needs and

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