We Need to Bust The Early Termination Taboo


Can you believe these stats?

Basically ALL the online traffic we get is from people looking for help with early termination.

The ONLY OTHER resource on the web about Peace Corps early termination is the Peace Corps government website’s official statements.

Peace Corps Volunteers talk about parasites, poop, crazy disease, and tons of other loaded topics. But we can’t talk about leaving service earlier than expected??


So let’s bust up this taboo.


Here’s what you can do:


1. Sound off on social media and hashtag it #PCVsthatET


2. Use our platform to share your experience or ideas anonymously or otherwise. Shoot us a line, we got you.


3.  Tell us how we can help you and people like you. Book a free session below, comment, or send an email.


4. If you’re still in Peace Corps, start ANY conversation about ETing. Make it OK for others to talk to you about this.

“It was so great to talk to a returned volunteer that has COSed and found her way. As a current volunteer I struggle with the ‘whats next’ and it was incredible to talk to Meg and be frank about my feelings knowing that she gets it. She really knew how to give me great relevant advice that is setting me up for success down the road.” -PCV Fiji

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What to do after Peace Corps Early Termination

What do early termination Peace Corps Volunteers need? Tons of support. Learn more here. 

If early termination sounds like the end of your world, check out How Early Termination Will Impact Your Life.

Wondering what to do after Peace Corps? Check out our services exclusively for Peace Corps Volunteers.

Book a session now (it’s free)

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*the writer wishes to remain anonymous

It’s already tough to figure out what you should do after Peace Corps.

What happens when you add early termination to the mix? 

If you haven’t already, check out What’s Early Termination from Peace Corps Like? and How Early Termination Will Impact Your Life

ETing is sometimes involuntary, which can be traumatizing for volunteers who have invested so much in their service. One volunteer’s* medical officer ETed her even after she had met health improvement requirements.This is her story.

“…Although my ET was a medical separation, it still imbued me with an immense amount of shame.”

“There was more than a hint of competition among some volunteers, be it for doing the most projects or living with the fewest amenities possible. In that environment, ETing was a mark of failure inevitably associated with being unable to cut it. Although my ET was a medical separation, not an administrative separation (used for those who broke regulation), it still imbued me with an immense amount of shame.  I suppose I shouldn’t let something that isn’t my fault affect me so deeply, but it did.


   Health Challenges

 Throughout my six months of service, I had almost nonstop stomach issues that made eating painful.  I wasn’t sure of the source, and nothing I tried seemed to make it better. I doubted it was the stress of being in a foreign country; I’d previously lived in China, central Africa, and South America without issue.  But suddenly, eating anything more than a few bites made me feel ill. I continued with my daily activities, but felt discomfort or pain multiple times a day, and started losing weight. 


The Medical Office

I was in very regular communication with one of the Peace Corps nurses, who was extremely kind to me and had me come to the capital for various medical tests, none of which revealed anything conclusive. I started working with another medical officer when she took a leave, and he took over arranging appointments and follow-ups for me. At one point, though, he suggested that the whole thing was a recurrence of anorexia, which I’d had eight or so years prior. I insisted that it wasn’t, as I had been doing everything I could that the medical officers and nurses said I should do in order to gain back weight. I didn’t want to lose weight.

Eventually, I was told that if I could achieve a certain weight in a month, I could stay. I considered this seriously.  I could be in pain for a month, I figured, and not disappoint all the kids I had been working with at the school. Or I could have less pain but have to go home. I decided on the former.


The Decision

At the end of the month, I had met the weight gain goal the medical office had set for me. Nevertheless, the nurse and medical officer decided that I should go home anyway. Everything happened very quickly. One day they informed me of their decision, and the next day I was traveling back to my village to pack. I only had one night in the village, so I was only able to say goodbye to the principal of the school and to my homestay family. The next day, I was on a plane.


Life After Early Termination

I don’t typically like to broadcast my negative experiences, or even label an experience as a bad one. But the whirlwind of those months, and especially those last few days, is something I rarely wish revisit, even now, five years later.  I felt tremendously appreciative of how many staff members put so much time, energy, and heart into helping me. But at the same time, I kept thinking of all the kids whom I felt I had failed. I had told them what we’d be doing the following semester. They wrote me get-well notes. And then I wasn’t there for them, without explanation. Their faces stayed in my head for a long, long time. My thoughts of them eventually decreased from every day, to weekly, to monthly. But I doubt they will ever disappear.


Advice to Others

It’s really hard not to feel guilt or shame, but, unless you break the rules, shit happens that is oftentimes it’s no one’s fault.  It doesn’t say anything about you as a person, or mean that you can’t do x, y, and z in the future. It’s important not to make it bigger than it is.”


We’re Serious.

ET Volunteers need more support. That’s why we’re proud to offer Transition Advising to all Peace Corps affiliates, no matter how long it’s been since Peace Corps.

What is early termination from Peace Corps like, and how will it affect your life after Peace Corps? 

 Seems like Peace Corps Volunteers can talk about anything. Wriggling parasites, rotten food, the ugliest of bodily functions–nothing is too raunchy for these ironclad stomachs. But utter these two little words and faces blanch: early termination.  

As taboo as the topic can feel in Peace Corps circles, early termination is very common. In fact, more than 1 in 10 volunteers’ service ends early.

There are  myriad reasons  for early termination, but no matter what, it is always unexpected, painful, and isolating for the Volunteer. 

That’s because Volunteers have invested hugely in their service. They’ve expected significant personal and career growth upon completing their service.  So it’s no wonder an early end feels like the biggest failure ever.

So how does early termination impact the rest of your life?

1. You’ll miss the experiences you would have had in your community.

3. If your training + service was less than 12 months, you resigned, or you were administratively separated, then you aren’t be eligible for non-competitive eligibility status on job applications with the US government.

4. If you resigned or were administratively separated, then you aren’t eligible for the Coverdell fellowship program.



You’re probably feeling like Volunteers who ET have to live with the shameful blemish of their Peace Corps service hidden from the world forever. But that’s simply not the case.

Actually, the vast majority of people–including US government employees–don’t have the foggiest idea what “normal” Peace Corps service is, much less how yours may have been different. The few people that might notice your service dates are other Returned Volunteers. Fortunately, they also understand the complexities of service terms, and at most are thinking your shorter service must mean you have a fascinating story.


Let’s imagine your resume says Peace Corps 2017-18.

This could mean:

  • You served in Peace Corps Response.
  • All volunteers in your country dramatically evacuated in perilous 007-esque circumstances.
  • You contracted a little-known jungle disease.
  • You served 2 years, from January 2017- December 2018.

The point is, what looks to you like a terrible admittance to failure blaring from your resume doesn’t actually mean anything to anyone at all.


Here’s what will stay the same whether you ET or not:

  1. You experienced life-altering, mind-opening things.
  2. You met people and saw places you’ll never forget.
  3. You’ll get all the social and career prestige of being a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer.
  4. You feel totally accepted in Peace Corps crowds.
  5. Peace Corps appears on your resume.
  6. You have the character traits and work ethic of a Peace Corps Volunteer.
  7. Your Peace Corps service impresses potential employers. 
  8. You’re proud to be a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer.


Early termination is emotionally tumultuous. Fortunately, the emotions are  the worst part of ETing. Be sure to process your emotions in a health way. Then you’ll regain your perspective on all the amazing people, places, moments, smiles, connections, and lessons that truly define your Peace Corps experience. Early termination will become a small detail barely worth mentioning. And you’ll still be a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer.

What to do after Peace Corps Early Termination

What do early termination Peace Corps Volunteers need? Tons of support. Learn more here.

If early termination sounds like the end of your world, check out How Early Termination Will Impact Your Life.

Wondering what to do after Peace Corps? Check out our services exclusively for Peace Corps Volunteers. We subsidize services for Peace Corps folk, and your first session is free!

Book a Free Session Now

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