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Why Peace Corps Volunteers Should Have Veteran Rights


The Peace Corps, established in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, stands as a symbol of America’s commitment to global peace, friendship, and cooperation. Over the decades, the organization has sent skilled American volunteers, known as Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs), to communities around the world, where they work tirelessly to address pressing needs, promote sustainable development, and bridge cross-cultural divides. The 27-month immersion in local cultures, collaborative efforts, and the pursuit of shared goals make PCVs true ambassadors of goodwill.

However, as these volunteers return home, it raises an important question: What rights and support should they receive upon their return to the United States? As a businessman, I have taken necessary steps myself and partnered with two individuals who have served (even though I have not served in the Peace Corps myself) to form the “Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) Ventures.” This initiative aims to assist them in establishing themselves in new entrepreneurial opportunities.

In this article, we explore why providing PCVs with veteran rights upon their return to the U.S. is a crucial step towards recognizing their contributions and harnessing their potential as community leaders.

The Peace Corps Mission

The Peace Corps has a clear mission: to promote international peace and friendship through volunteer service and cultural exchange programs. This mission is executed through the selfless dedication of PCVs, who serve in various fields such as education, health, agriculture, environmental conservation, and community development. The organization’s impact is not confined to addressing critical issues in host countries; it extends to fostering mutual understanding, respect, and collaboration between Americans and people from diverse cultural backgrounds.

PCVs: America’s Unsung Heroes

Peace Corps Volunteers are not just volunteers; they are unsung heroes on the global stage. They undertake rigorous training to prepare for their service, and then they immerse themselves in foreign communities, adapting to new cultures and working side by side with local residents to make a meaningful difference. Their efforts combat poverty, improve healthcare, enhance education, and promote environmental sustainability. PCVs embody the ideals of public service and diplomacy, embodying the American spirit of cooperation and goodwill.

I believe Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) should receive more recognition for their service. Even small gestures, such as being invited to stand at the ballpark in acknowledgment of their service, receiving priority boarding on flights, or enjoying national service discounts at establishments like Home Depot, can make a meaningful difference.

The Missing Piece: Recognizing Peace Corps Veterans

However, as PCVs return to the United States after their service, they often find themselves facing a void in terms of recognition and support. This is where a significant opportunity is being overlooked. Peace Corps veterans represent a vast and valuable resource, one that, if utilized correctly, can significantly benefit their homeland. These individuals return with invaluable cross-cultural experiences, leadership skills, and a deep understanding of community engagement. Yet, they often do not have access to the rights and support enjoyed by military veterans.

A Call for Semi-Veteran Rights

It is time for the U.S. government to acknowledge the potential of Peace Corps veterans and address this oversight. We propose the concept of “semi-veteran rights” for PCVs. These rights would provide them with recognition and support upon their return to the United States, allowing them to become leaders in their communities. Semi-veteran rights could include:

  1. Education and Career Benefits: Offering access to education benefits and job placement services, acknowledging the skills and experiences gained during Peace Corps service.
  2. Healthcare Support: Currently, RPCVs receive insufficient healthcare for service-related illnesses and injuries. If disabled, they often find themselves at the lower end of the GS scale for workers’ compensation. Additionally, they frequently forgo post-service medical treatment due to the complex requirements imposed by the Department of Labor, which assumes responsibility for them upon service completion. Ensuring access to affordable healthcare services and acknowledging the potential health challenges faced by PCVs and RPCVs as a result of their service is an essential measure.
  3. Community Leadership Opportunities: Providing opportunities for RPCVs to engage in community leadership roles, utilizing their cross-cultural understanding and development experience for the betterment of American society.

Furthermore, I believe it’s time to create a Peace Corps Commemorative Park in Washington, D.C. Amidst a city adorned with war memorials and monuments to national heroes, such a park would pay tribute to the dedication of Peace Corps Volunteers and the ideals they represent. In a modest manner, this park will provide well-deserved recognition to RPCVs for their service.


The Peace Corps is a cornerstone of American diplomacy and goodwill, fostering international cooperation and understanding. However, its volunteers often find themselves without the recognition and support they deserve upon returning home. By granting PCVs semi-veteran rights, the U.S. government can harness their immense potential and ensure that their valuable experiences and skills contribute to the betterment of American communities. Peace Corps veterans are America’s ambassadors of peace, and it is time we recognize their contributions by affording them the rights and support they deserve.

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