News Releases

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Isakson Applauds Committee Passage of Peace Corps Reform Legislation

Legislation builds on Isakson’s previous 'Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act'

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today applauded committee passage of legislation to further reform the U.S. Peace Corps by improving access to medical care for volunteers, strengthening accountability and oversight, and enhancing procedures to reduce the risk of crime where volunteers serve.

Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations by voice vote unanimously passed the Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act of 2018, S.2286, that was introduced by Isakson on Jan. 10, 2018.

The bill builds on reforms addressed in 2011 in Isakson’s Kate Puzey Volunteer Protection Act to further protect volunteers. 

“I have long been a supporter of the work Peace Corps volunteers accomplish in communities worldwide,” said Isakson. “Their goodwill offers results for the direct beneficiaries of their labor and for the United States, too. This legislation provides additional measures to ensure greater protection and safety for our volunteers. Today, February 7, is the fifth anniversary of Nick’s passing. I am proud of the bipartisan work that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has done to make this bill a reality. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to act on this bipartisan legislation without delay.”

The Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act of 2018 is named in memory of the 23-year-old Brentwood, Calif., volunteer who lost his life in 2013 while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in China. It was later determined by the inspector general that flaws in Castle’s medical care and in the response to his illness contributed to his death.

Isakson’s previous Kate Puzey bill was enacted into law in 2011 and was named after the 24-year-old Georgia woman who was murdered in 2009 while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Benin.

Isakson introduced the Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act of 2018 with U.S. Senators Bob Corker, R-Tenn., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Chris Coons, D-Del.

The Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act of 2018 contains the following key provisions.

Peace Corps volunteer support:

  • 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 report progress to Congress; and
  • Extends existing health care coverage for service-related injuries through three months after volunteers return from service.

Peace Corps oversight and accountability:

  • 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; and
  • 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.

Crime risk reduction:

  • Requires the director make evidence and information regarding a volunteer’s 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;
  • Permanently authorizes the Office of Victim Advocacy, first authorized by the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act; and
  • Extends and enhances other expiring programs, first authorized by the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act, that provide services to volunteers who have been victims of sexual assault.