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Ensuring Volunteers' Health During and After Service

The Peace Corps' top priorities are the health, safety and security of Volunteers. The agency is continually working to improve the quality of care and support for both current and returned Volunteers.

To ensure continuity of high-quality care, the Peace Corps has:

  • Established and promoted a direct line to medical professionals at Peace Corps headquarters for current and returned Volunteers who have concerns, questions and comments about their health care.  Volunteers currently in service can contact the Quality Improvement Unit at qualitynurse@peacecorps.gov.  Returned Volunteers can contact the Post Service Unit at psu@peacecorps.gov.
  • Enhanced the overall quality of medical care provided to Volunteers by improving the supervision, hiring, credentialing and management of Peace Corps medical officers at each post.  Peace Corps has also upgraded technical guidance on a range of medical topics, including sexual assault, malaria suppression, injury and trauma, and mental health.  A Health Care Quality Assurance Council has also been established to oversee, monitor and report on the quality of Peace Corps health services.
  • Trained Peace Corps Medical Officers, safety and security staff, and sexual assault response liaisons — all based in the field — on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and trauma informed care so they can identify when Volunteers are in need and deliver high-quality support.
  • Strengthened policy and guidelines for malaria prevention and treatment.  Volunteers meet individually with their Peace Corps Medical Officer to discuss the risks, benefits and side effects of the malaria suppression medications available to them.  Volunteers are then given a choice of medication, depending on their location and whether they prefer a daily or weekly regimen.
  • Sponsored a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on improving malaria prevention and compliance with anti-malarial medications among Peace Corps Volunteers. In response, the agency has highlighted strategies at pre-service training to help Volunteers remember to take their medications.  In addition, a video on malaria prevention jointly produced and disseminated by the Peace Corps and the U.S. Department of State has been incorporated into a global education campaign on malaria prevention.
  • Started the implementation process for an electronic medical records system that will improve the quality of care by giving Peace Corps Medical Officers better access to Volunteers' medical files and allow for real-time oversight. The system will provide valuable data that will help inform the agency’s continuing medical education and training programs.

For Current Volunteers, the Peace Corps has:

  • Proactively provided referral forms, known as PC 127 forms, that guarantee coverage for readjustment counseling to all Volunteers upon Close of Service so they are readily available as needed when Volunteers return home.
  • Reformed medical evacuation procedures so all Volunteers who are medically evacuated to Washington, D.C., are met at the airport by a Peace Corps representative and have a choice of healthcare providers for their care. Medically evacuated Volunteers are encouraged to provide feedback to the agency on their experience to ensure the quality of the process.
  • Hired a nurse case manager who specializes in sexual assault services to oversee the medical care provided to medically evacuated Volunteers following incidents of crime.

For Returned Volunteers, the Peace Corps has:

  • Conducted extensive analysis of post-service Volunteer healthcare issues and collaborated with the U.S. Department of Labor to create solutions that address concerns related to Volunteer claims under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA). Peace Corps has established a strong working relationship with the U.S. Department of Labor to improve FECA communication and streamline processes.
  • Hired new staff in the Peace Corps' Post Service Unit to accelerate FECA case resolutions. Peace Corps hired an additional billing specialist who has been trained by the U.S. Department of Labor on FECA billing processes and now works closely with returned Volunteers on their claims. Peace Corps has also hired an additional nurse case manager to assist returned volunteers with long-standing FECA claims or challenges with their claims, as well as to track complicated new FECA claims after they have been fully transitioned into the Department of Labor workers' compensation system.
  • Reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor that allows for several medical conditions to be treated by Peace Corps without prior approval, helping to make the process more efficient for returned Volunteers.

Fact Sheet: Ensuring Volunteers' Health During & After Service (PDF)

Last updated Oct 30 2014