Message From Director Olsen
As you know, given the dangers of the COVID-19 outbreak and related travel constraints, we were forced to make the difficult decision to temporarily suspend all Volunteer activities.
Fortunately, we were able to safely evacuate each of our posts, avoiding a situation where Volunteers would have been stranded overseas as borders and air space were shutting down to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This was a tremendous undertaking, and it represents the very best of public service in a time of crisis.
As with any crisis, however, myths emerge about the government’s response. I am writing to assure you the Peace Corps is providing for the needs of returning Volunteers, including funds for travel, lodging, food, healthcare, medicine and the products they need to stay healthy while traveling home during this emergency. In addition, the Peace Corps will provide evacuation and readjustment allowances, extended health insurance coverage and lodging reimbursements for Volunteers who are unable to self-quarantine at their home of record for the recommended 14-day quarantine period. The lodging reimbursement for self-quarantine is something the agency has never offered to Volunteers before.
Importantly, Volunteers who evacuate will qualify for Non-Competitive Eligibility, which makes it easier to join the federal workforce. And they will qualify for Coverdell Fellowships available to graduate students.
Volunteers who seek to return to their host countries or seek a new assignment will be given expedited consideration over the next year. To be clear, the Peace Corps is not closing posts, and Volunteers will be able to return to normal activities as soon as conditions permit. We are already planning for that day.
For answers to many of the questions surrounding the return of Volunteers to the U.S., please read the updates provided on this website. New content is being added to this page daily. We also encourage Volunteers to access Learning Space over the course of the next year for detailed information on benefits, healthcare, returning to service and ways to connect with the Peace Corps community.
Having served as a Volunteer in Tunisia, I have been a part of that community for most of my life. The people of this agency are like family to me. The same goes for our Volunteers and the more than 240,000 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers across the U.S. I will do everything I can to safeguard and celebrate this extraordinary group of Americans.
The weeks and months ahead will not be easy, but the Peace Corps will continue taking action to support our returning Volunteers. Please take care.