Normally, when I write to my congressman I usually rant about concerns that I feel adversely affect the country. And usually it's between him and me. This time however, I feel it important to congratulate congress and especially Congressman Mark Kirk for holding fast to support the increase in the size of the FY2010 Peace Corps budget.
Presidents Clinton and Bush and now President Obama pledged in past presidential campaigns to increase the size of the Peace Corps. These promises went unfulfilled and it seems that President Obama was on the same path. For the past 15 years requests to join the Peace Corps could not be supported because past administrations failed to live up to their pledges. Congress, this time, won't let it happen again. It added an additional 90 million dollars so that the Obama promise can be met. The total 2010 budget for the Peace Corps is now expected to be about 450 million dollars, or to put it in perspective, about the cost of 2 F-22 fighter aircraft. This amount of money for such a key part of the US foreign policy represents a fraction of a percent of the total Federal budget.
At the end of this month, I will be hosting a reunion of my PC group. As I think back on what we were paid for our service, Peace Corps has to be one of the most cost effective programs the U.S. government operates. Indeed, it gives many of us who served great pride knowing that some of the projects we worked on are, after 40 years, still part of the fabric of the country we served. General James M. Gavin, when he heard of Kennedy's Peace Corps idea, stated that "... young Americans should be given the chance to do something more ennobling than watching over other countries in a military uniform..." The Peace Corps with Congressman Kirk's support will provide this opportunity.