August 21, 2005: Headlines: Speaking Out: Military: Intelligence Issues: Safety and Security of Volunteers: Washington Post: Colman McCarthy says Welcome Soldiers to the Peace Corps

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 : Director Vasquez says the National Call to Service (NCS) program will not have an impact on the Peace Corps : August 21, 2005: Headlines: Speaking Out: Military: Intelligence Issues: Safety and Security of Volunteers: Washington Post: Colman McCarthy says Welcome Soldiers to the Peace Corps

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Sunday, August 21, 2005 - 4:18 pm: Edit Post

Colman McCarthy says Welcome Soldiers to the Peace Corps

Colman McCarthy says Welcome Soldiers to the Peace Corps

If contamination is the fear, why not exclude all former soldiers who might want to join the Peace Corps? If that idea has never been advanced, and it never has, what's the difference between accepting those recently out of the military and those still in? If they are qualified and can pass all the entrance requirements, let them in.

Colman McCarthy says Welcome Soldiers to the Peace Corps

Welcome Soldiers to the Peace Corps

By Colman McCarthy

Sunday, August 21, 2005; Page B07

Orthopedists are busy these days fitting braces to all the jerking knees of Peace Corps supporters opposed to ties with the U.S. military. A Pentagon program, legislated by Congress three years ago and increasingly promoted by the military now that its recruitment numbers are flagging, allows soldiers to join the Peace Corps to meet part of their military obligation.

Under the National Call to Service legislation, which was guided through Congress by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), soldiers could spend 3 1/2 years in one of the four branches and then fulfill the rest of their commitment with two years as Peace Corps volunteers.

Peace Corps allies -- many of them past and current volunteers and officials -- are throwing major and minor fits. What's this? Soldiers trained to kill would now become idealists trained to heal? Except in Tolstoy, war and peace don't mix, no more than hawks and doves are nesting mates.

As a pacifist opposed to all wars past, current and future, I'm also wary of increasing the military's reach. But not this time. The Peace Corps should be open to all comers, regardless of the route they take to apply. Is someone with a liberal arts degree from an Ivy League school somehow superior in character and skills to a Marine lance corporal educated by surviving combat in Iraq?

Elitism is at work here: The purity of the Peace Corps will be sullied by opening the doors to militarists.

If contamination is the fear, why not exclude all former soldiers who might want to join the Peace Corps? If that idea has never been advanced, and it never has, what's the difference between accepting those recently out of the military and those still in? If they are qualified and can pass all the entrance requirements, let them in.

A bias against people in the military has long infected the American peace movement, as if denouncing war must include denouncing warriors. It was a World War II combat veteran, Sargent Shriver, who became the first director of the Peace Corps as the appointee of another combat veteran, President John F. Kennedy. The list is long of soldiers who went from believing in peace through strength to strength through peace: Francis of Assisi, Ignatius of Loyola, Howard Zinn, Andy Jacobs, Philip Berrigan, Garry Davis, George McGovern, among others.

Mahatma Gandhi, a noncombatant in the Boer War, strongly admired soldiers. When asked about that -- how could the great practitioner of nonviolence hold the military in high regard? -- he replied that soldiers were paragons of discipline and resolve, virtues often lacking in peacemakers, who sometimes think that it is enough to stage antiwar marches and hold conferences to damn the military.

An alliance with the Pentagon could be an opportunity for supporters of the Peace Corps -- and I have been one going back to the early 1960s -- to shake the Pentagon's money tree and increase the Peace Corps budget. Congress lavishes more than $1 billion a day on the military, which is almost five times more than what it gives the Peace Corps in a year. That's the real scandal. With more money, fewer qualified Peace Corps applicants would be turned away. And perhaps, with more slots, fewer people would be choosing the military in the first place.

The writer, a former columnist for The Post, directs the Center for Teaching Peace. He teaches courses on nonviolence at four universities and three high schools in the Washington area.

When this story was posted in August 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Military Option sparks concerns Date: August 3 2005 No: 698 Military Option sparks concerns
The U.S. military, struggling to fill its voluntary ranks, is allowing recruits to meet part of their military obligations by serving in the Peace Corps. Read why there is rising 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!" Latest: RPCV Chris Matthews to discuss the issue on Hardball tonight.

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Friends of the Peace Corps 170,000  strong Date: April 2 2005 No: 543 Friends of the Peace Corps 170,000 strong
170,000 is a very special number for the RPCV community - it's the number of Volunteers who have served in the Peace Corps since 1961. It's also a number that is very special to us because March is the first month since our founding in January, 2001 that our readership has exceeded 170,000. And while we know that not everyone who comes to this site is an RPCV, they are all "Friends of the Peace Corps." Thanks everybody for making PCOL your source of news for the Returned Volunteer community.

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Story Source: Washington Post

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Speaking Out; Military; Intelligence Issues; Safety and Security of Volunteers


By Anonymous ( - on Sunday, August 21, 2005 - 4:01 pm: Edit Post

Ref: Editorial 8/21 in Washington Post
" Wecome Soldiers to the Peace Corps"
By Coleman McCarthy

He states: "What's the difference between accepting those recently out of the military and those still in?"

The answer pure and simple:

Those still in the military might be joining the Peace Corp to:
AVOID SERVING IN IRAQ...and risking life / limb.
rather than joing the Peace Corp to

Rpresenting the Peace Corp and the United States for the "wrong reason" puts the Corp and the current Corp volenteers in jeaporaty and risks loosing the good will of the nations they are serving.

What's up with Coleman McCarthy... I doubt he is that naive or that stupid.

By Anonymous ( on Wednesday, August 24, 2005 - 11:16 am: Edit Post

If one's goal is actually to destroy the Peace Corps, a la the "No Public Schools Left Open" Act, this is a good first step. Doubtless lots of folks who have served neither in the military nor the Peace Corps are offended at the thought of the USA doing anything altruistic, or money being spent in ways that can't be coopted by large donors. One could speculate as their reasons for trying to kill the Peace Corps, or being so blind in their obsession to reward campaign contributors, but why? The simple fact is that they are as dumb as a sack of hammers.

By Anonymous ( - on Wednesday, August 24, 2005 - 11:39 am: Edit Post

In principle, if national service were obligatory across the board in the U.S. as it is in many countries, there would be no need for a distinction between kinds of national service performed. The obligation could be fulfilled equally well whether through serving as an EMT, in the National Guard, Peace Corps, or elsewhere.

However, in the particular case of the U.S., there has been a longstanding tradition that national service is voluntary and professional. By extension, each service accepts the responsibility of recruiting those it believes most suited to the task of fulfilling its objectives as a service. As the Peace Corps is an independent agency, and as each branch of the armed forces respects the characteristics that make the other branches unique and distinct; respect of the independence of other national service organizations must be given consideration.

There is a fundamental distinction as well in the sense that the risks and duties that military personnel are willing to take are not, and should not be, the same as those that civilians are asked to take. For active military personnel to be serving without uniforms in the same theater as civilians, and to be hosted by the local population, would actually be in violation of the Third Amendment of our own Constitution. There is a lot at stake here--while the issue deserves strenuous debate, I believe that ultimately the rightful solution would be to create within the military a branch that seeks to provide emergency relief and works to support and uphold the goals of the Peace Corps in its own right. This would more effectively demonstrate a shared commitment to the rule of law and to the principle of civilian control.

By Frank Dermody ( - on Wednesday, August 24, 2005 - 7:39 pm: Edit Post

What's wrong with a vet joining the Peace Corps? I was out of the Army less than eight months when I started my volunteer service. In fact, there were several other vets, including two who had served in 'Nam, in my training group.

Veterans joining the Peace Corps is nothing new.

By Anonymous ( - on Thursday, August 25, 2005 - 9:15 am: Edit Post

True..there is nothing new regarding "veterans" joining the Peace Corps...however, the major distinction here would be that the veterans had infact COMPLETED their respective service in the armed forces and THEN pursued joining Peace Corps...while the present proposal would allow for "current GI's" to COMPLETE their respective service obligations thru the Peace Corps...a very bright and distinct difference that you brushed over...additionally, this is the most absurd proposal that I have heard regarding the Peace Corps in sometime. My volunteer service was in a former Soviet country and there were MANY host country nationals fearing that we were infact government, you put in the mix service men who are there to complete their service obligations and what do you suppose the host country nationals will think about our "spy" status...sometimes the appearences are TOO great to overlook...

By Dick Mentzer ( - on Friday, August 26, 2005 - 2:48 pm: Edit Post

I had completed my military service before my PC service. This is much different than being attached to the military while serving in the PC. If the military is willing to seperate (Honorable Discharge)the volunteer from service early with the condition they volunteer for PC it would make some sense.

By mike osborn (majoroz) ( - on Monday, August 29, 2005 - 6:48 pm: Edit Post

1. Alex serves four years active duty in the military, comes home and works at the local high school while serving his remaining two years as an inactive reservest.

2. Barbara serves six months active duty, comes home and stays in the active reserve for 3 1/2 years and two years in the inactive reserve, all this time going to college and working part-time at a bookstore.

3. Chad serves four years active duty, comes home and joins the peace corps, serving in (wherever) while completing his inactive two year service commitement.

4. Dorothy serves six months active, comes home and serves 3 1/2 years active reserve, then joins the pc and goes to (wherever) while completing the inactive two years.

5. Earl serves eighteen months active duty, comes home and joins the peace corps, getting credit for the military obligation, knowing that, in case of national emergency, he can be brought back and re-activated.

6. Fay serves eighteen months active duty, comes home, works at the Rosebud reservation as a teacher, getting credit for the military obligation, knowing that, in the case of a national emergency, she may be re-activated.

7. Gary goes to college, gets a BA in liberal arts, can't find a job, and joins the pc while he figures out what else to do.

8. Helen serves four active years, getting an associate degree in the process, comes home, serves out the two year inactive reserve requirement while finishing a BS in public health, RE-Joins the reserve as a public health officer and ALSO joins pc and goes to southern Africa to work on AIDS relief.

Line these people up in their order as useful to their nation.
Then line them up in order as useful to PC.
Then line them up in order as true to themselves.
Illustrate any conflicts of interest.
Show how the rude, crude GI's would contaminate the Kum-buya Kids.

Quit whining.

oz, USAF, 58-81; PC, 94-96

"Seven years of college shot to shit: I'm gonna have to join the Peace Corps"
John Belushi; Animal House

By Michael Thompson ( - on Wednesday, October 05, 2005 - 11:57 pm: Edit Post

Murking up the distinction between military and PC is gonna make a lot of dead 'spies'. Let 'em fix stuff within the US, it's not like we are running out of problems. I propose we call it "The National Guard".

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