Sens. Chris Coons, D-Delaware; Bob Corker, R-Tennessee; Dianne Feinstein, D-California; and Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, recently legislation to reform the Peace Corps.
The Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act of 2018 would improve access to medical care for volunteers, strengthen accountability and oversight and enhance procedures to reduce the risk of crime in the countries in which volunteers serve. The legislation is named in honor of Nick Castle, of Brentwood, California, who died at age 23 due to inadequate health care while serving in China in 2013. It was later determined by the inspector general that flaws in medical care and the response to his illness contributed to his death. Castle would have turned 28 Jan. 10.
“Very simple steps would have saved Nick’s life,” said Sue and David Castle, the parents of Nick. “As parents, we have worked for legislation to ensure this never happens to another family, and we believe this legislation will make the changes that are needed. Nick wanted to make a difference in this world, but he didn’t have time to do that. We hope with the passing of this legislation that he can make a true lasting impact on the Peace Corps.”
“Peace Corps volunteers like Nick Castle support communities around the world,” said Coons. “I’m proud to work with Sens. Corker, Feinstein and Isakson to ensure that the U.S. government does its part to keep our volunteers safe and to hold leadership of the agency accountable for their welfare. This bill will give volunteers access to the care they need as they promote peace and friendship abroad.”
— Ensures the Peace Corps hires well-qualified personnel capable of administering effective health care services for volunteers.
— Provides the director the authority necessary to appropriately review and evaluate the performance of all current medical staff.
— Requires the director to implement recommendations made by the Peace Corps inspector general and requires subsequent reports to Congress.
— Extends existing health care coverage for service-related injuries three months after volunteers return from service.
— Provides volunteers with direct access to the inspector general.
— Requires the director to notify Congress of the opening or closure of offices and country programs.
— Requires public disclosure of the results of volunteer surveys on satisfaction in each country in which volunteers serve, as well as the early termination rate.
— Requires the director to make evidence and information regarding a volunteers’ death available to the inspector general in order to facilitate an independent review of such incidents.
— Maintains records verifying each individual has completed the training required by the Peace Corps Act.
— Provides applicants with information regarding crimes and risks to volunteers in the country in which they are invited to serve.
— Extends and enhances expiring programs, first authorized by the Kate Puzey Act, that provide services to volunteers who have been a victim of sexual assault.