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Email Congress

“I think it is more important than ever that RPCVs talk with their representatives. Volunteers’ daily interactions with citizens in developing countries present the best of our culture and values. We are a quiet but powerful antidote to much of the distrust and anxiety people feel in the world today. It’s vitally important that our representatives understand that.”

Kate Gavaghan, RPCV Botswana

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Why Email your representatives?

...because the community's voice adds up. 

There is always someone in a Capitol Hill office reading constituent emails. The issues raised in them are tallied and reviewed by staff each day. The more emails on a given issue, the more likely the representative is to act on it, especially if they're written with care.  

 
 
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In March 2017, 12,000 communications 

were sent to Congress from the Peace Corps community.  We'll need to send more in 2018.

 
 

Email Your Representatives

Tips  &  Talking Points

Send Our Emails or Create Your Own

While our click-to-send feature below includes form language for all actions, we encourage you to provide language and examples of how the issue has personally impacted you. If you'd like to craft your own email from scratch, choose the "Compose Your Own" option towards the bottom of the page. Below are some tips and talking points for either option.

Tips

  • Make it Personal: The more personalized, the more likely you are to be perceived as caring about the issue, and the more likely representatives and their staffs will be to give it strong consideration.
  • The Power of Persuasion: Representatives and their staffs are more likely to take your side of an issue through persuasive rather than confrontational tones.
  • Make the Ask: Be sure to include specifically what position you want the representative to take.
  • Name the Issue: Of course, be clear about the issue your advocating for, e.g. the name of the bill or funding level.
  • Go Local: Make sure you provide sn example(s) of how the issue impacts local communities.
  • Go Inter/National: If applicable, discuss how the issue impacts America on a broader scale, e.g. national security, standing abroad, human rights.
  • Be Concise: In general, emails should be 150 words or less.

Peace Corps Budget Talking Points

  • Background: The President's Fiscal Year 2018 budget request for the Peace Corps is $398.2 million, a nearly-$12 million or 2.7% cut from current funding of $410 million. The House has also proposed this cut, but the Senate has maintained level funding. The House and Senate are currently negotiating their final funding number.
  • The Ask: I urge you to support no less than $410 million for the Peace Corps' Fiscal Year 2018 budget, and no less than $57.4 billion for the international affairs Fiscal Year 2018 budget, which funds the Peace Corps and its partners.
  • Talking Points: Please note: We provide many talking points for your convenience, and you may not have time to cover all of them. Make sure you make "The Ask" before covering the talking points.

● As America and the world continue to combat familiar challenges and face new ones, the Peace Corps is needed now more than ever. By training foreign communities in critical areas of need, imparting American culture, and applying their experience, knowledge and skills to make America’s communities better once they return home, Peace Corps Volunteers provide high impact at a fraction of the budget.

● The Peace Corps benefits America’s economy, security, development, and reputation.

● In February 2017, 121 retired three and four-star generals told Congress that “Peace Corps and other development agencies are critical to preventing conflict and reducing the need to put our men and women in uniform in harm’s way.”

● In fiscal year 2016, U.S. exports to current Peace Corps countries totaled $441.1 billion, or 30% of all U.S. exports.

● Fluent in languages, culturally agile, and trusted by local communities, Volunteers are America’s grassroots diplomats, and a Volunteer is often the only American known by a host community.

● Peace Corps leverages every taxpayer dollar by partnering with other agencies and programs, like PEPFAR and USAID, to implement HIV/AIDS, global food security, and malaria prevention projects.

● Both supply and demand for Peace Corps is skyrocketing. Approximately 7,000 Volunteers currently serve in 65 countries. However, in fiscal year 2016, approximately 24,000 Americans applied, but funding could only support 3,800 opportunities. Retired Gen. McChrystal says that “This gap represents democratic energy wasted and a generation of patriotism needlessly squandered.” And each year, 5,000 more Peace Corps Volunteers are requested by countries than funding allows.

● America’s model citizens are made in the Peace Corps. 170 Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) affiliate groups and more than 230,000 individuals demonstrate a lifetime commitment to Peace Corps ideals. From serving as members of Congress and as entrepreneurs, to raising funds for Ebola victims and micro-loans for women’s groups, the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer community has a domestic dividend that is unmatched.

Health Legislation Talking Points

  • Background: Both chambers of Congress have introduced bipartisan legislation to implement reforms aimed at improving the health and safety for Peace Corps Volunteers and returned volunteers who come home with service related illness and injuries. Last May, Congressmen Ted Poe (R-TX) and RPCV Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA) introduced H.R. 2259, the Sam Farr Peace Corps Enhancement Act. On January 10, 2018, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) joined by Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Chris Coons (D-DE), introduced S. 2286, the Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act.
  • The Ask: I urge you to co-sponsor Senate Bill 2286 (or House Bill 2259), legislation to implement improvements in the health care and safety for Peace Corps Volunteers, and returned volunteers who come home with service related injuries or illness.
  • Talking Points: Please note: We provide many talking points for your convenience, and you may not have time to cover all of them. Make sure you make "The Ask" before covering the talking points.

● More than 230,000 citizens have served our nation with distinction in the Peace Corps. They deserve our support and respect.

● In Peace Corps' Fiscal Year 2018 budget justification to Congress, the agency states that “the health, safety and security of volunteers remain the agency’s highest priorities.”

● Congress has the opportunity to help meet this priority by passing comprehensive health and safety legislation that addresses a variety of needs.

● The group Health Justice for Peace Corps Volunteers has worked for many years in support of key provisions to assist the most vulnerable members of the Peace Corps community - returned volunteers struggling with serious service-related illness or injuries.

● The parents of Nick Castle—a volunteer who died in 2013 while serving our nation as a Peace Corps Volunteer in China—have been working since their son’s death to make improvements so other families won’t have to face similar tragedies.

● Those needs include ensuring 1) the quality and sufficient quantity of overseas medical personnel at Peace Corps posts; 2) the ability of the agency to be fully involved in supporting recently returned volunteers with diagnosis and treatment for service-related medical issues; 3) further improvements, education and training related to treatment of volunteers serving in malaria countries; 4) increased workers’ compensation payments for returned volunteers who are determined to be temporarily or permanently disabled; and 5) further protection and support for volunteers subjected to sexual assault or other forms of violence (including re-authorization of key provisions of the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act).

● Neither the Senate nor the House legislation contain all reforms requested by key Peace Corps community stakeholders (including those outlined above). We are urging both chambers to advance and pass their respective legislation, and urge the Senate and House to come together to pass the strongest Peace Corps health legislation possible.

Benefits Talking Points

  • Background: Non-Competitive Eligibility provides Federal employers the option to apply preferential status to RPCV applicants. This status is in jeopardy as a Federal hiring freeze remains in place.
  • The Ask: I urge you to support H.R. 1442, the Public Service Federal Eligibility Protection Act of 2017. NOTE: There is no Senate companion bill.
  • Talking Points: Please note: We provide many talking points for your convenience, and you may not have time to cover all of them. Make sure you make "The Ask" before covering the talking points.

● This bipartisan legislation would simply extend non-competitive eligibility for RPCVs by the amount of days that the Federal hiring freeze is in place.

● Upon completion of service, RPCVs receive non-competitive eligibility (NCE) status for federal employment. Through NCE status, the federal government is able to prioritize hiring of RPCVs--patriotic, service-oriented Americans who can immediately contribute high-quality skills and policy input to their jobs.

● A loss of NCE status would not only hamper the efforts of the federal government to recruit and onboard ideal employees, it would strip RPCVs of one of the few benefits they receive for their service.

● Additionally, NCE is often the springboard for a lifetime in diplomacy and development for RPCVs, who leverage their language skills, cultural agility and dedication to the service of the United States' mission overseas.

  • Background: The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program forgives certain federal loans after a ten-year period of regular monthly payments, should an individual work full-time in the public service sector during that period with a qualifying employer. Peace Corps service currently qualifies under this program. The House has eliminated this program in the Higher Ed bill.
  • The Ask: I urge you to oppose elimination of the Department of Education's Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
  • Talking Points: Please note: We provide many talking points for your convenience, and you may not have time to cover all of them. Make sure you make "The Ask" before covering the talking points.

● Public Service Loan Forgiveness is a vital financial assistance program for Americans who have served our country, including returned Peace Corps volunteers.

● At great personal and professional sacrifice Peace Corps volunteers serve our country to help others help themselves and build people-to-people connections that last generations. Following service, returned Peace Corps volunteers often build on their Peace Corps skills and experience by pursuing post-graduate degrees. Eliminating the PSFLP would handicap these volunteers and discourage Americans from applying to serve their country in the first place.

  • Background: H.R. 1295, The Respect for Peace Corps Volunteers Act, honors returned Peace Corps volunteers and former Peace Corps staff by allowing the use of the name and logo of the Peace Corps in an obituary or gravestone. Currently, there is no Senate companion bill.
  • The Ask: I urge you to respectfully honor returned Peace Corps volunteers and former Peace Corps staff by co-sponsoring H.R. 1295, the Respect for Peace Corps Volunteers Act.
  • Talking Points: Please note: We provide many talking points for your convenience, and you may not have time to cover all of them. Make sure you make "The Ask" before covering the talking points.

● This bipartisan legislation would afford returned Peace Corps volunteers and former Peace Corps staff the dignity of using the Peace Corps name and logo in an obituary or on their gravestone. Current restrictions prohibit these Americans from being recognized for their service to the country and their host communities.

● Since 1961, some 230,000 Americans have served in the Peace Corps and many thousands more have supported their work in critical support roles as staff. For many of them, the Peace Corps remains the most transformative, memorable and patriotic experience of their lives.

● Not recognizing this service is an added and unnecessary burden in the already difficult circumstance for anyone contemplating end-of-life decisions or for family and loved ones carrying out the wishes of the deceased. Co-sponsoring H.R. 1295 and allowing returned Peace Corps volunteers and former Peace Corps staff to have their service recognized is a decent, commonsense decision.