Being a Peace Corps Volunteer, sometimes it’s just not fair. We get the short end of the stick. I’m in the process of renewing my driver’s license and no one can seem to give me a straight answer about what I should do. In research I found that if I were military, there would be a certain set of circumstances that allowed me to keep my expired license without issue until 45 days after I returned home. I don’t qualify for this.
Thinking about it, I remember a lot of things I don’t qualify for. When I was trying to cancel my phone service before coming to Thailand, if I were leaving for the military, there would be no charge for me to defer my plan for the length of my international post. Instead I had to pay the $200 early termination clause.
Am I not serving my country as well? I didn’t have a choice of when I was leaving and I’m gone for a significant period of time. Granted PST and life in Thailand is a much different and less dangerous challenge than boot camp and a tour in Iraq. I hold nothing but the highest respect for the American military forces (with both grandfathers, two uncles, two cousins, and my brother having or currently served/ing) and I know anything I do in my service can never amount to their sacrifices. But I wish PCVs were allowed some of the same benefits of military to ease our lives abroad. It’s the small, easily take care-able at home, but a nightmare to manage abroad things that I flare up, I think could be smoothed out for those serving.
Based on FY 11 estimates for military defense and Peace Corps, less than five days of current military spending is equal to all government spending on Peace Corps over the past fifty years. Who do you think goes into those countries after the wars are over to mend broken bridges? Who goes in and dedicates two years learning a new language, living with a group of people, and sharing their lives with them? Who is getting poked and prodded, physically and mentally, for the betterment of understanding the American people? A Peace Corps Volunteer.
Now that I’ve stepped off of my soapbox, some humor.
But seriously, if you meet a Peace Corps Volunteer, give them a little ‘thanks for your service.’ They won’t feel like they deserve it, but they do.