The Bugler

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Peace Corps, Proud History

Fifty years and counting ... Since 1961 more than 200,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps, serving in 139 countries.

The Peace Corps traces its roots and mission to 1960, when then-Senator John F. Kennedy challenged students at the University of Michigan to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries. From that inspiration grew a federal government agency devoted to world peace and friendship.

Throughout its history, the Peace Corps has adapted and responded to the issues of the times. In an ever-changing world, Peace Corps Volunteers have met new challenges with innovation, creativity, determination, and compassion. From AIDS education to emerging technologies to environmental preservation to new market economies, Peace Corps Volunteers have helped people build better lives for themselves.

The Peace Corps story of a retired military officer
Ernie LenzErnie Lenz's life has been one filled with service to his country. His 37-year career with the armed forces included everything from enlistment in the Army to working in the Medical Service Corps to leading a medical training team in El Salvador.

Today his job is very different as he works with Guatemalan schoolchildren, teaching them basic hygiene - like the proper way to brush their teeth - in areas susceptible to health problems.

How did this psychologist and Army colonel end up working with young children in a remote mountain town in a foreign land? It's simple, he says: he wanted to continue his service to others and wouldn't choose to be anywhere else.

Following his retirement from the armed forces in 1995, Colonel Ernie Lenz was looking forward to kicking back and enjoying life full time. Yet, throughout his various adventures as a retiree - from backpacking in Europe and New Zealand to crewing sailboats in the Gulf of Mexico to obtaining an additional master's degree in public health - he recalls missing "the sense of public service I felt in the Army." He also had a strong desire to give something back after enjoying a rich and vibrant life.

In a lakeside town of about 50,000 inhabitants nestled in the Guatemalan highlands, his primary project is a preventative medicine program designed to have children practice healthy habits in school on a daily basis. By collaborating with parents, teachers, administrators, nongovernmental organizations and government officials, he hopes to get the two schools with which he works certified as "Healthy Schools" by his Peace Corps program. A school must meet several standards to achieve this designation, such as reaching the goal of 80 percent of the students regularly brushing their teeth after the school snack. He also trains teachers on new methods for teaching health.

Since joining the Peace Corps in 2003, Lenz has found it to be, "an honor and a privilege to represent our country to the world. For this older American, the Peace Corps offers the opportunity to cap one's life with service to others. It is truly a worthwhile experience. We get to know other cultures as a tourist never could."

Lenz believes that many other Americans, retired from military careers, could find volunteering with the Peace Corps to be a rewarding, enjoyable, and fulfilling way to spend their retirement. "By your service in the armed forces, you have answered the call of that distant inauguration address to 'ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.' In the Peace Corps, you can keep on contributing," he said. "Whatever your job was in the military, you developed leadership and management skills that will greatly contribute to the success of any Peace Corps project. In addition, you have many other skills to bring to the world. There are a lot of people out there who need and will appreciate your skills."

A benefit we can all enjoy!
Seventy percent of the world's cocoa comes from West Africa, but less than 1% of the world's chocolate is made there. Instead, farmers sell whole cocoa pods to the first of many middlemen who eventually export the cocoa beans to chocolate makers in Belgium and France. Tim McCollum and Brett Beach - introduced to Madagascar and each other while in the Peace Corps - founded Mad

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