Overcome fear of change for better 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: Overcome fear of change for better Peace Corps

By mattinpc (24-241-120-075.dhcp.gnvl.sc.charter.com - on Thursday, January 19, 2006 - 8:31 am: Edit Post

I have read many but not all of the statements regarding allowing a connection between the military and Peace Corps services. First I will start by saying I have done both and have found both experiences good in different ways. I think that it is important to clarify the difference between allowing people with previous military service in and the combination of the two services. I do not think this discussion is about the quality of service provided by military individuals so I will leave that.

The fear of this combination of programs seems to come from the idea that it could hinder the efficiency of Peace Corps and secondly could place volunteers in additional danger.

The first concern is interesting to me in that Peace Corps has three goals, to work with others to improve their country, to share about America, and to share about the host country with Americans. I would say that now more than ever the people of other countries need to see that soldiers are not robots, heartlessly killing. In my experiences, albeit in a peaceful country, I was proud to say that I had been a soldier and it was received in consideration of the work I was doing there. We, as the general image goes, are viewed poorly in many areas. It is because like many Americans thinking about others, they do not look past the stereotype.

The second concern of placing volunteers in additional danger is valid. But to what extent are we willing to improve the image of the nation and to help others. Soldiers put their lives on the line to support the government’s agenda, sometimes willingly, sometimes not. The elected government requires them to follow the orders by law or be punished. It is very easy for people to say “this war is terrible”, “peace” and the like, without really coming up with substantial evidence or methods for a solution. The world is not perfect and peace is a wonderful goal but it is not here yet, read the Africa news headlines almost any day. In America we are sheltered from the majority of the dangers, mostly by the action of soldiers and government agencies. The danger is there for so many, why shouldn’t PCV’s be at least offered the opportunity to help, by continuing service and accepting the additional risks for the perceived outcome.

Peace Corps should be about serving other countries and America in the best way it can. Fear is always going to be present but should be managed. By allowing the combination of military service and Peace Corps service the potential for improved image of America, I believe, can be improved.

A question might provide more insight. Who is a potential terrorist going to feel more emotional about, a person that came and served in the village or the false perception of soldier as a heartless murderer? And in that which one is going to be more beneficial to correct?

Peace Corps service was a tremendous growing experience in my life and was a great opportunity to work and learn overseas. It is best to be shared with as many Americans (from whatever background) as possible.

By RPCV (ppp-70-129-201-20.dsl.austtx.swbell.net - on Thursday, January 19, 2006 - 1:01 pm: Edit Post

You make many good points, however, the services should never be combined. Veterans (i.e., retired / honorably discharged) have always been welcome to serve in Peace Corps ... and will continue to be ...

It's difficult enough to persuade the local populations that PCVs are not associated with intelligence or military services without the added complication of combining the services for current military personnel.

Furthermore, it's not PC's job to improve the image of the military and vice versa. However, both can accomplish a lot in improving the image of Americans overseas.

And congress is now validating this point and that of safety and security in removing the PC provision for alternative service options of current military personnel.

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