Foreign Service Journal - June 2013 - page 47

JUNE 2013
Foreign Affairs Day was com-
memorated on May 3, with
a series of events including
memorial ceremonies at
the State Department’s C
Street lobby and at USAID in
the Ronald Reagan Building.
Eight individuals’ names were
added to AFSA’s memorial
plaques at State, while two
Foreign Service officers were
memorialized at USAID.
It was a day that made
it clear that our profession
carries risks not always
recognized by our citizens.
The causes of death of those
whose lives we celebrated
ranged from explosions and
terrorist attacks to malaria
and inadequate medical care.
At the State Department,
Vice President Joseph Biden
and Secretary of State John
Kerry gave moving eulogies
whose empathy comforted
the attending family mem-
bers. Biden declared that For-
eign Service officers should
receive the same respect
that we give our military
personnel for contributing so
much to our national security
and progress without car-
rying a weapon. At USAID,
Administrator Rajiv Shah
emphasized the fact that
the Foreign Service officers
we were honoring had given
their lives so that our mission
could move forward.
While many of the causes
of Foreign Service employ-
ees’ deaths are easily under-
stood by most, others are
questioned. A recent com-
ment by someone outside of
The Everyday Risks of Overseas Service
the Foreign Service makes
this clear, “Is a plaque really
justified just because you are
overseas? After all, I work in
Washington and if I die of a
heart attack or car accident,
I am not recognized with a
memorial plaque. Why is it
justified for overseas employ-
Many of the places where
Foreign Service personnel
and their families serve, are
much more dangerous than
in the United States. Access
to services we take for
granted here are nonexistent
at most overseas posts. In
the U.S., we call 911 and an
ambulance and emergency
medical technicians arrive
to treat us and take us to
a modern, well-equipped
hospital. Overseas, we might
be lucky to have a decent
medical clinic, much less
ambulance service.
While the State Depart-
ment’s Office of Medical
Programs can be a lifesaver
overseas, it cannot compare
to the options for care we
receive stateside. In the event
of a medical emergency
overseas, depending on the
post, we are better off being
flown out of the country to a
location where the care won’t
kill us. I say this from my own
medical emergency, which
caused me to be transported
by a rickety and poorly
equipped ambulance over
a torturous drive of several
hours to Cairo from the Sinai
Peninsula. I am sure many
of you have similar horror
stories to tell.
Both AFSA’s and USAID’s
criteria for recognition spe-
cifically cover death caused
by lack of adequate medical
treatment. As Vice President
Biden noted, Foreign Service
employees volunteer for the
job despite the dangers and
risks, and fully understand
that acceptable medical care
may be lacking. This is a
message others also need to
understand to better appreci-
ate the risks taken by FSOs
and their family members
assigned overseas.
Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA USAID VP.
AFSA Scholarships Established,
Renewed or Added in May
• An
anonymous donor
pledged a substantial gift
to the financial aid scholarship she established in
2009. A portion of the funds were received in May,
with the remaining sums arriving over the next four
years. This gift will increase AFSA’s endowment and
the size of the scholarships bestowed in her name. 
• Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and his siblings,
along with donations from friends and colleagues,
have established a perpetual financial aid scholar-
ship in their parents' names. The
Christopher and
Eliza Van Hollen Memorial Scholarship
their Foreign Service careers and will be awarded for
the first time in the 2013-2014 year.
• Stephen Hubler renewed the annual
Alice and
John Hubler Financial Aid Scholarship
to his parents. Mr. Hubler originally established the
scholarship in 2005. It will be bestowed in 2013-
2014. As a past AFSA scholarship recipient, he feels
giving back is important.
• Carefirst BlueCross BlueShield Federal
Employee Program
sponsored two AFSA academic
merit awards for the first time in May 2013. The
awards were bestowed on Meredith Hilton and Lee
Ellen Myles, both high school seniors and children
of AFSA members.
• The
Public Members Association of the
Foreign Service
renewed its annual financial aid
scholarship for 2013-2014 for a student pursuing a
career in the Foreign Service.
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