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Employment – Older Americans and the Peace Corps

The arm of the United States federal government that is designed to promote world peace is known as the Peace Corps. In the Peace Corps, volunteers live and work in developing countries, known as host countries, helping to train and educate residents. For example, Peace Corps volunteers have helped educate people about AIDS, business development, and information technology. Many older American volunteers enjoy sharing their wisdom and life experience with other volunteers and with residents of developing countries. However, members of the elderly population who are considering working with the Peace Corps may have special concerns, as well, such as the availability of health care, their personal safety, and other financial matters.

Health Care

Although there is no upper age limit for service, all Peace Corps volunteers are given medical and dental examinations to ensure they are able to serve safely and to help match volunteers, when necessary, with communities that can provide access to needed services. During service, the Peace Corps pays for each volunteer’s medical care, including immunizations and preventative medications. At least one medical officer is present in each country of assignment, and volunteers are sent to other countries to obtain medical care, when necessary. The Corps also trains volunteers, providing health care information specific to their countries of assignment, to help them maintain their health.

Safety

The Peace Corps takes several steps to ensure the safety of its volunteers. First, before assignments are made to any country, assessments are conducted to ensure volunteers will be safe at their places of work and residence. The Corps considers comfort issues, as well, such as access to banks, post offices, and local transportation. Second, the Peace Corps trains volunteers about its safety policies and emergency plans. Finally, volunteers are trained before and during assignments with information specific to their countries of assignments. For instance, training is provided regarding safety risks specific to that area and local customs and behavior.

Financial Matters

In addition to free medical care and housing, Peace Corps volunteers receive a monthly living allowance, which, in most circumstances, does not affect Social Security or other federal government retirement benefits. Upon discharge, volunteers receive a readjustment allowance, which is accrued during their terms of service.

Additional Terms of Service

Volunteers accrue vacation time, which they may spend any way they wish, such as visiting other countries or visiting family members at home in the United States. Volunteers also receive emergency leave, which provides them with two weeks of leave, with travel expenses paid by the government, when family emergencies occur.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.