Another Retirement Choice: Peace Corps

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Her children took leave from school and work to care for their father. The family hired home health care to help. Once her husband recovered, Datt realized she made the right choice and is happy with her decision to be in Macedonia.

"He recovered, and we've reached a better footing in our lives," said Datt. "And our relationship is enriched because I did come back." Once she returned to Macedonia, Datt said she started to see breakthroughs at work.

"It's a great experience for an older person," she said. "When he does retire, health insurance will be a big problem," said Datt. She hopes to gain entry back into a public service career when she returns from Macedonia.

Karen McCarthy, a Peace Corps alum who spent 27 months in St. Lucia, said returning can be very difficult for older volunteers who have not planned their integration back to the U.S.

"My home was here when I returned because my kids were living in it," said McCarthy who returned in August. "I have two friends who volunteered. They sold their house, everything. So when they came back, they came back to nothing. They have to start completely over."

McCarthy, 61, said the timing was right for her to volunteer after she had retired five years prior and had been widowed for seven years after her husband was hit by a car.

Like the other volunteers, she said the economy didn't influence her decision to leave the country, but her personal financial situation helped her plan her return.

"I had always managed my own money. From the time I was 27 I knew I wanted to retire early," she said. "The $7,000 or so readjustment is not a lot of money. It may be fine for kids coming out of college. For older people, you have to do this for the right reasons."

Kip and Maureen Doran, health professionals from Colorado, have worked on HIV/AIDS prevention in Botswana since 2009. Kip, a graduate of Yale's medical school, said the most rewarding experience has been teaching psychology at the University of Botswana Medical School.

"When our colleagues heard what we were doing, they thought it was temporary insanity to stop our finances to work for nothing. The twist is that you don't have to be in your 60s and near retirement and have financial concerns to be a Peace Corps volunteer."

Both plan to return to their medical and teaching careers when they return to Colorado in 2011.

"I'm working as hard or harder than I was in my regular job," said Kip Doran of his work in Botswana. "I put in a lot of hours. That's my personality. I like being active. If anybody thought it was going to be a come over and sit on the beach, it's not anything like that. "

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