What to do after Peace Corps early termination

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

If you’re wondering about life after Peace Corps early termination, check out How Early Termination Will Impact Your Life.

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What is early termination from Peace Corps like? 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 watch their faces blanch: early termination.  

As taboo as the topic can feel among Peace Corps circles, early termination is actually very common. 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. 

Volunteers have invested hugely in getting to where they are. They’ve looked forward to the personal and career growth of completing their service.  It’s no wonder an early end can feel 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.

2. Going through the challenges of early termination will makes you a stronger person.

3. If your training + service was less than 12 months, you resigned, or you were administratively separated, then you won’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.



I know, you were thinking 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.

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:

  • Your service was in Peace Corps Response.
  • All volunteers in your country were 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. Life-changing experiences came into your life.
  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. Your character traits and work ethic are that of a Peace Corps Volunteer.
  6. You put Peace Corps on your resume.
  7. Employers will be impressed by your Peace Corps service.
  8. You brag about being 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.

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