Peace Corpsmen To Get Support In Draft Cases
The Peace Corps, in a major policy reversal, will now intervene on behalf of volunteers seeking draft deferments for their two years of overseas service.
Agency Director Jack Vaughn said yesterday he will take an "active role" in future deferment cases before the three-man Presidential Appeal Board. He will write letters to the board describing the circumstances in each case and urging board members to grant deferments until the end of the volunteer's overseas tour.
In the past the Peace Corps simply advised volunteers and trainees of Selective Service laws and procedures, and confirmed to local boards the fact of a volunteer's service.
"The problem of induction notices to overseas volunteers is becoming a major concern for us," Vaughn explained. "Pulling a volunteer off a productive job at mid-term is unfair to the nation, the host country, the Peace Corps, and the individual." In the past year twenty Volunteers have been called back to the United States for induction, Vaughn said.
Archie C. Epps, assistant dean of Harvard College and student advisor on the Peace Corps, said he was not satisfied with Vaughn's move. "This all seems to be rather late," he said. Epps doubted that Vaughn's action would have any significant effect on the Presidential Appeal Board.
"What we need," Epps said, "is a forth-right and candid plea that the nation view the Peace Corps as an important and constructive part of its foreign policy." Vaughn should appeal to the Selective Service for special consideration for all Volunteers, both those overseas and those in training programs, Epps continued, charging that such an appeal "has never been vigorously put forward."
The Selective Service Act of 1967 grants deferment to men in "essential occupations." At the moment the Interagency Advisory Commission is at work in Washington to clarify deferment criteria.
A source close to the Commission said Friday that the atmosphere seems "favorable" for a uniform two-year deferment for Peace Corps Volunteers.