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Write Op-Eds

“There’s ultimately no better voice than people actually from the districts and states that members of Congress represent.”

Michael Carlo, RPCV Ukraine, Capitol Hill legislative aide

 

scroll down to get started

 
 

Why submit your opinion to newspapers?

...because politicians pay attention to local papers.

The number one priority for Members of Congress are serving their constituent's needs, and the number one forum for voicing those needs are local newspapers. Representatives and their staff sift through district publications daily to see what community's want and where they stand on issues. The more real estate the Peace Corps can get in local papers, the more likely its issues are to be prioritized.

 
 
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In March 2017 | 12,700 communications

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

 
 

Submit Your Op-Ed/LTE

Tips  &  Talking Points

Getting Started

  • What's an Op-Ed?: An op-ed is a persuasive piece published in the “Opinions and Editorials” section of a newspaper. It is typically a well reasoned yet passionate response to current news. Op-eds can reach a large audience, including representatives and others in a position to influence the Peace Corps.
  • What's a Letter to the Editor?: A Letter to the Editor, or LTE, is a letter sent to a newspaper from a reader. Though not necessarily a response to a current event, LTEs can serve to bring attention to an issue not covered in the news.

Tips

  • The Power of Persuasion: Newpapers, representatives, and the public are more likely to take your side of an issue through persuasive rather than confrontational tones.
  • Local matters: Make sure that your letter is relevant to the communities the paper covers, e.g. tie in how RPCVs have served the local community, how many RPCVs there are, or any university-Peace Corps partnerships.
  • Authority: Credibility can not only make for a more persuasive piece, but can likely open doors. If there's someone with authority—a leader of the local NPCA affiliate group—or someone with name recognition—an RPCV mayor—who can author or co-author the piece, see if they're interested.
  • Name Your Rep(s): In almost all cases, if your letter includes a legislator’s name, their staff will give them the letter to read personally.
  • Name the Issue: Of course, be clear about the issue your advocating for, e.g. the name of the bill or funding level.
  • Go Inter/National: If applicable, discuss how the issue impacts America on a broader scale, e.g. national security, standing abroad, human rights.
  • Be Timely: If you’re responding to a specific story or op-ed that ran in your paper, do so within two or three days of its publication (the sooner the better).
  • Keep it Short, Focused and Interesting: In general, LTEs should be 150 words or less, and Op-Eds about 300 words, but check the paper's quidelines on its website. Stay focused on one (or, at the most, two) main point(s). Include interesting facts, relevant personal experience, and any local connections to the issue. Wrap your letter up by explaining what you think needs to happen now by making a call to action.
  • Follow the Paper’s Directions: Information on guidelines, how and to whom to submit an LTE/Op-Ed is usually on the paper's website. Follow these guidelines to increase the likelihood that your letter will be printed. If you can’t find the information you need, call the paper.
  • Include Your Contact Information: Be sure to include your name, address, and daytime phone number. The paper will contact you before printing your piece. Do not include attachments in your submission email.
  • Copy Your Contacts: Know someone at the publication, or someone who does? Make sure you also submit your piece to them, which should give it a better chance of getting published.
  • Share It!: Once published, share your piece on social media and with any relevant Congressional offices.
  • Build Relationships: Your piece was published? Great! Send a thank you to your contact at the paper, invite them to a local Peace Corps event if possible, and at the very least—even if your piece wasn't published—keep in touch.

Examples

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.
  • Talking Points: Please note: We provide many talking points for your convenience, and you may not have space 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 space 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 space 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 space 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 space 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.

Instructions for Submission Through the Form Below

  • Submitting On Your Own?: Great! Use our Tips above and good luck!
  • Submitting Through the Form Below?:

● 1. Enter your zip code.

● 2. Check the box for the publication you'd like to submit to. Please note: We recommend submitting to just one publication.

● 3. Below the list of publications, click "SEND A MESSAGE."

● 4. Enter you contact information on the left of the screen.

● 5. Subject Line: If you are submitting an Op-Ed, please change the subject line. We recommend a subject line that speaks clearly and concisely to your issue, e.g. "Letter to the Editor re: Peace Corps health legislation" or "Op-Ed re: Peace Corps more important than ever."

● 6. Click "SEND" on the left of the screen.