Mental Health and Private Military Contractors
Although it is infrequently mentioned, and it is often unfashionable to say, the truth about most private military and security contractors is that they are mostly regular folks trying to make a living doing often difficult jobs in frequently chaotic and dangerous conditions.
Yes, many of them are military veterans but they are certainly not mercenaries in any meaningful sense of the word. But often they do have one thing in common with regular military personnel, namely, they frequently get screwed over.
In that regard one should certainly read the article published today by ProPublica, written by T. Christian Miller. Miller is one of the few reporters in the country, and possibly the best, chronicling the many different ways in which private contractors are often treated like disposable trash, used for the job and then thrown away. For example, his past writings on flaws in the Defense Base Act, the federal law requiring companies to provide insurance for those working overseas in war zones, caused Congress to hold a June 18, 2009 hearing of the Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the subject.
His latest article, “The Other Victims of Battlefield Stress; Defense Contractors’ Mental Health Neglected,” details the little attention that has been paid to the mental health of tens of thousands of civilian contractors returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Unlike the mental health of regular military personnel, an issue which has received considerable attention in the past few years, no agency tracks how many civilian workers have killed themselves after returning from the war zones. Read the full story here