Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

The Defense of Freedom Medal Held Hostage by the Defense Base Act

Crossposted from the Defense Base Act Compensation Blog  May 31, 2012

WHY HAVE I NOT RECEIVED THE DEFENSE OF FREEDOM MEDAL?

The Defense of Freedom Medal is an award held to be the equivalent of the Purple Heart and is awarded to Civilian Contractors injured in the war zones. 

One question we get here repeatedly is why have I not received the Defense of Freedom Medal?   The question comes from severely disabled Civilian Contractors wounded in horrific explosions and insurgent attacks.

WHO IS HOLDING YOUR MEDAL HOSTAGE?

The company you work for is responsible for requesting  that you receive the medal and providing the documentation that you have indeed suffered a qualifying injury.

As all Injured War Zone Contractors know the minute you must file a Defense Base Act Claim you are automatically placed in an adversarial relationship with your employer.   Your Employer and the Defense Base Act Insurance Company are considered equal entities in the battle you have entered for your medical care and indemnity.

Your Employer is required to assist the insurance company in denying your claim.  Under the War Hazards Act the Employer/Carrier must prove to the WHA Tribunal that they have diligently tried to deny your claim.

It appears that your Defense of Freedom Medals could be held hostage by your Employers due to the adversarial relationship the Defense Base Act has created.

When KBR, DynCorp, Blackwater, Xe, et al, provide documentation of your injuries to the DoD they have just admitted that you are indeed injured and to what extent.

Specific information regarding injury/death: Description of the situation causing the injury/death in detail to include the date, time, place, and scene of the incident, and official medical documentation of the employee’s injuries and treatment. The description must be well documented, including the names of witnesses and point of contact (POC) for additional medical information, if needed.

These admissions sure would make it hard for Administrative Law Judges like Paul C Johnson to name them as alleged.   ALJ Paul C Johnson has yet to award benefits to a DBA Claimant in a decision based on a hearing.

KBR who can never seem to find their injured employees medical records holds the key to the Defense of Freedom Medal.

Certainly there are other lawsuits outside of the DBA that the withholding of this information is vital too.

For those of you who still give a damn after being abused by so badly simply because you were injured-

The Defense of Freedom Medal may find you many years down the road once an Administrative Law Judge says you were injured.

We recommend that you contact your Congressional Representative or Senator and have them request this Medal if you qualify for it and would like to have it.

If you are still litigating your claim it SHOULD serve to legitimize your alleged injuries.

May 31, 2012 Posted by | Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Defense Base Act, Department of Defense, DynCorp, Halliburton, KBR, Lawsuits, War Hazards Act | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Civilian Contractors John J Keys and Jacob A West receive Defense of Freedom Medal

Fairbanks civilian contractor who survived blast in Afghanistan honored

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Kendall P. Cox, left, presents the Defense of Freedom Medal to John Keys, 52, of Fairbanks, who was injured when a bomb exploded while Keys was conducting a road survey near Paktika Province, Afghnistan, injuring Keys and killing U.S. service members Navy Chief Petty Officer Raymond J. Border, 31, of West Lafayette, Ohio, and Army Staff Sgt. Jorge M. Oliveria, 33, of Newark, N.J. The medal also was presented to Jacob West, 30, of Fayetteville, N.C., who was injured with Keys. / Photo by Mark Rankin, AED North Public Affairs Office

FAIRBANKS — A Fairbanks engineer saw first hand last fall how Afghanistan is a dangerous assignment whether for a soldier or a civilian. While working on a new road in an Afghan village John J. Keys was hit by an 80-pound roadside bomb. Keys, another Army civilian and a translator survived, but two military men they had been working with for months were killed instantly.

Perhaps thankless is the best word for the engineering assignment. Keys found out later that the villagers for whom they were building the road likely saw the bomb-layers digging for several days to install the bomb.

Yet no one bothered to warn them.

Keys, 52, is no stranger to war zones. In his recent career he was been a a civil engineer at Fort Wainwright, where he helped design some the post’s barracks. But before coming to Fairbanks in 1994 he served in the Air National Guard during Operation Desert Storm and later on drug interdiction assignments in Central and South America.

As a civilian engineer, Keys said he has good protection from the military with a close aerial presence and an escort of soldiers. But he never forgot he was in a war. “You’re always careful,” he said. “You’re looking for signs of (improved explosive devices), hand trails where they bury the wires … You’re always aware that anything could happen at any time.”

On Oct. 19, Keys was inspecting a two-lane gravel road through the village of Yahya Khel in Eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistan border. He was on (and now directs) a provisional reconstruction team, a combined military and civilian crew that was going to convert a gravel road to cobblestones at the request of the village. As a member of the team, Keys wore full combat gear minus the weapons and was traveling with a convoy of heavy mine-resistant vehicles. Instead of an assault rifle he carried a camera to document the road conditions.

A photograph he took a few minutes before the blast shows a relatively innocuous scene: a dusty road flanked by earthen walls. A group of men in white robes sit and stand in a doorway talking to soldiers.

The blast went off about 100 meters from where the photograph was taken. The explosion killed Navy Chief Petty Officer Raymond J. Border, 31, of West Lafayette, Ohio, and Army Staff Sgt. Jorge M. Oliveira, 33, of Newark, N.J. Keys was blown of his feet and knocked 20 feet into a gully, according to an account of the explosion recorded in a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers news release.

“I don’t know how to describe it,” Keys said. “I was in full-body pain and I wasn’t where I started.”

The other Army civilian, Jacob A. West, 30, of Fayetteville, N.C., remembered only a smell of burning dirt, chemical and plastic from the moments after the blast, according to the Army news release. His first clear memory was sitting in the armored vehicle where he saw Keys return to the site of the blast to look for the two military men.

“He (Keys) did all that without being asked,” West said according to the release. “He did all that on his own without any regard for his personal safety. He was part of that team. I think that was significant. People should know that.”

This week, Keys and West were both presented the Defense of Freedom Metal, the equivalent of the military Purple Heart for Department of Defense civilians

Please see the original and read more here

April 6, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Casualties, Civilian Contractors, Department of Defense | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Civilian Contractors Receive Defense of Freedom Medal

War on Terror News
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq – Three KBR, Inc. employees received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Defense of Freedom in a ceremony, May 1, at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.The Defense of Freedom Medal is the civilian equivalent of the military’s Purple Heart Medal. It is awarded to civilian employees working in support of the Department of Defense who are injured or fatally wounded by hostile fire while in the line of duty.Robert Martin Jr., a heavy truck driver with KBR’s

Iraq Theater Transportation Mission and a Lindale, Texas, native, sustained a gunshot wound while driving in a flatbed convoy mission Dec. 5, 2005.

Lawrence Reynolds, a heavy truck driver with KBR’s Iraq’s TTM and a Tulsa, Okla., native, received shrapnel wounds and later had a cardiac episode as a result of an improvised explosive device detonation on his convoy, June 6, 2006.

Lemmis Stephens Jr., a tank driver and fuel technician with KBR and a Houston native, sustained bilateral eye injuries when an incoming round exploded 70 feet from his bus, sending shrapnel through his windshield.

All three contractors have since returned to work in Iraq.

May 18, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, KBR | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Defense of Freedom Medal

Defense of Freedom Medal for Civilian Contractors

1. Purpose: The Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom (DFM) is established to acknowledge civilian employees of the Department of Defense (DoD) who are killed or wounded in the line of duty. The medal symbolizes the extraordinary fidelity and essential service of the Department’s civilian workforce who are an integral part of DoD and who contribute to the preservation of national security.

2. Description: The Army’s Institute of Heraldry developed the medal.

a.

Medal:

The eagle and shield exemplify the principles of freedom and the defense of these freedoms on which our country is founded. The laurel is emblematic of honor and high achievement.
b.

Ribbon:

Red, white, and blue are our National colors. The red stripes commemorate valor and sacrifice. The wide blue stripe represents strength. The white stripes symbolize liberty as represented in our national flag. The number of red stripes represents the four terrorist attacks using hijacked airplanes, and the single blue stripe represents the terrorist attack on the pentagon on September 11, 2001. This day, more than ever, united this country and brought to the forefront our heroic civilians.

3. Certificate: A DA Form 7499 will accompany the medal.

4. Eligibility: The medal shall be awarded to any DoD civilian employee meeting the definition of “employee” under title 5 United States Code, Section 2105, and who is eligible for an award under DoD 1400.25-M, Subchapter 451, “Awards,” including employees of non-appropriated fund activities, when killed or wounded by hostile action while serving under any competent authority of the Department under conditions for which a military member would be eligible for receipt of the Purple Heart. Additionally, the Secretary of Defense has discretionary authority to award this medal to non-Defense personnel who are otherwise qualified to be awarded the medal based on their involvement in DoD activities.

5. Criteria: Eligibility criteria for the medal are aligned as closely as possible to those for the Purple Heart for members of the Armed Forces; this medal differs from other medals in that it is not “recommended.” The employee is “entitled” to the medal if the employee is eligible under Section 4 and if the conditions or criteria in this paragraph are present. Hostile action may involve, but is not limited to, the use of conventional or nuclear weapons, chemical or biological agents, explosives, or missiles. The medal shall be awarded to employees who are killed or who sustain injury due to hostile action against the United States of America, or killed or wounded while rescuing or attempting to rescue any other employee or individual subjected to injuries sustained under such conditions. The wound for which the award is made must have required treatment by a medical officer, and records of medical treatment for wounds or injuries received in action must have been made a matter of official record.

6. Limitations on Awarding Medal: The medal is authorized for the incident of death or the first wound suffered under the conditions indicated above. The medal itself may be awarded only once; however, for subsequent events that would require the award of the medal, a device will be awarded to attach to the ribbon of the medal.

7. Posthumous Awards: The medal may be awarded posthumously and, when so awarded, may be presented to a representative of the deceased member’s family.

8. Responsibility and Approval: The approval authority for the DFM is delegated as specified in the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) memorandum dated March 24, 2009, subject: Delegation of Authority – Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom.

9. Nomination Format: Forward a memorandum, along with a DA Form 1256, containing the following:

a.

General personal information:

For government employees: provide name, SSN, title, series, grade, organization and location.
b.

Specific information regarding injury/death:

Description of the situation causing the injury/death in detail to include the date, time, place, and scene of the incident, and official medical documentation of the employee’s injuries and treatment. The description must be well documented, including the names of witnesses and point of contact (POC) for additional medical information, if needed.

10. Army Contractor Nominations: The Secretary of Defense will consider nominations of contractor employees for this medal. Nominations for contractor employees will consist of the attached form, completed and submitted to the Executive Secretary, Army Incentive Awards Board, along with a report from a medical treatment facility or professional and a signed release to permit discussion of medical information by those who review the award nomination. Submit one copy of the memorandum and supporting justification to: ag1cpaiabsecretary@conus.army.mil.
Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom
Consideration of Eligibility
for Contractor Personnel

1. Name of individual (first, middle initial, last.) Mr. John Doe

2. Position title. Senior Project Engineer

3. Name of contractor company and name/phone number of POC. ABC, 1234 Main Street, Anytown, Virginia 22222. Mr. Harold Barnes (888) 555-4748.

4. Title of Component office for which contractor worked and name/phone number of Component POC or project manager. Headquarters, Department of the Army, IMCEN. Mr. Sam Jones (877) 555-4410.

5. Date and location of the event, which caused the death or injury. September 11, 2001; Pentagon. Mr. Joe Smith, Acting Director, Information Management Center, certifies that this employee was in a duty status on September 11, 2001.

6. Describe the circumstances of the individual’s death or injury, e.g., the event that caused the death or injury and how it occurred. Mr. Doe was working in the Pentagon, Room 1C543, when terrorists crashed a commercial aircraft into the Pentagon. He was hit on the head by falling debris from the ceiling and walls of his office.

7. For injuries only – (1) describe the nature of the injury and the treatment protocol (treated and released, number of days hospitalized); (2) identify where treatment occurred (treated at medical facility or by private doctor and provide name of facility/ physician and phone number if available); (3) describe extent of immediate care, (treated with aspirin, x-rays taken, etc.), and (4) describe extent of continued care if considered necessary (outpatient care, physical therapy, etc.) Mr. Doe sustained blunt force trauma to his head and was admitted to Polaris Hospital Emergency Room where he was taken to the operating room and received fourteen stitches to close the wound in his head. He received medical treatment at the hospital until September 18, 2001. He had physical therapy appointments once a week for several months.

8. CERTIFICATION STATEMENT: MG Thomas Smith, Commanding General, U.S. Army XXXXXX, signed memorandum recommending approval.

March 1, 2010 Posted by | | 2 Comments

War Contractors Receive Defense of Freedom Medal for Injuries But Attract Little Notice

by T. Christian Miller, ProPublica – February 18, 2010 1:08 pm EST

Falls Church, Va. — A former sheriff’s deputy from South Dakota named Tate Mallory got a medal for service to his country on Wednesday, but it didn’t get much attention.

There was no top military brass at the ceremony, no long line of politicians waiting to shake his hand. Instead, Mallory stood on a dais in an anonymous hotel room in suburban Washington, D.C., looking pleased and slightly embarrassed as he was handed a Defense of Freedom medal.

“I thought that if someone was going to get hurt, it was going to happen to somebody else,” he told the audience, which included friends, family, co-workers, State Department officials and representatives from a congressional office or two.

Mallory was a civilian contractor who worked for DynCorp [1], a large defense firm that helps train police in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in western Iraq in 2006, punching a hole in his gut. He almost bled to death until U.S. Marines saved him.

He is one of thousands of civilians whose deaths and injuries are not included in the Pentagon’s official list [2] (PDF) of casualties from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A joint investigation [3] by ProPublica, ABC News and the Los Angeles Times found that injured civilian contractors routinely face drawn-out battles to get medical treatment paid for under a taxpayer-financed federal system known as the Defense Base Act.

The Labor Department, which tracks injuries to contract workers abroad, recently updated the tally [4]: Since 2001, more than 1,700 civilian contractors have died in Iraq and Afghanistan and nearly 40,000 have been reported injured.

More than a hundred contract workers have been given the Defense of Freedom medal [5] (PDF), a Pentagon citation that is the civilian equivalent of the military’s Purple Heart. Still, it’s difficult to track who receives the medal, which was created by the Defense Department after 9/11. Typically, corporations such as DynCorp or Houston-based KBR [6] nominate their workers, with the Pentagon approving the final award. But there is no centralized record of recipients, nor are the award ceremonies [7] (PDF) usually publicized.

Several of those at Wednesday’s ceremony, which was sponsored by DynCorp, lamented the lack of attention. They noted that contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan usually get in the news for bad behavior — such as wasting taxpayer money or the killing of innocent civilians.

Ken Leonard, a former DynCorp employee who was also recognized for valor on Wednesday, said Americans are not always aware of the contribution made by civilian contractors at work in the war zones. Leonard had both legs amputated after being injured by a roadside bomb in 2005. After 18 months of surgeries and rehabilitation, he returned to work as a police officer in High Point, N.C. [8]

“I’d say there was a public misunderstanding. I was there to work with the military,” Leonard said. “There’s a perception that we’re all gun-crazy, trigger-happy cowboys. That’s not the case.”

Write to T. Christian Miller at      T.Christian.Miller@propublica.org

February 18, 2010 Posted by | Contractor Casualties | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Price of Sacrifice

The government decided that contractors are eligible for public honor as civilians, through awards such as the Defense of Freedom Medal. This is described as the “civilian equivalent” of a Purple Heart, as both require the recipient to have been injured or killed. But the contractor is honored as victim; not hero.

While this Medal is available the majority of injured contractors will not receive it

Defense of Freedom Medal Held Hostage by the Defense Base Act

David Isenberg at Huffington Post  May 24, 2012

Please see David’s blog  The Isenberg Institute of Strategic Satire

How should one recognize an act on the battlefield that gets you wounded? If you are a soldier, marine, sailor or airman the answer is easy; you get a Purple Heart. That medal, originally created by General George Washington, is awarded to U.S. soldiers wounded by the enemy in combat. It was ordered by the Continental Congress to stop giving commissions or promotions, since the Congress could not afford the extra pay these entailed, so Washington drew up orders for a Badge of Military Merit made of purple cloth. In 1782 he directed that “whenever any singularly meritorious action is performed, the author of it shall be permitted to wear on his facings, over his left breast, the figure of a heart in purple cloth or silk edged with narrow lace or binding.”

In short, Washington gave cloth because he could not give money. But if you are a private contractor and you get wounded you don’t get a Purple Heart. You, hopefully, will get medical care and benefits which your employer is required, at least theoretically, to provide under the Defense Base Act.

To Mateo Taussig-Rubbo, a professor at the State University of New York, Buffalo Law School this raises the question as to whether they are forms of value which can be substituted one for the other.

In an essay he wrote, “Value of Valor: Money, Medals and Military Labor,” published earlier this year he explores the divide between money and medals. This raises interesting questions about motivation.

Please read the entire post here

May 24, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Defense Base Act, Department of Defense, Government Contractor | , , , , | Leave a comment

Leishmaniasis in Iraq and Afghanistan a Hazard, but not a War Hazard

There will be no “Defense of Freedom Medal” for being infected with the Leishmania parasite.

Leishmaniasis is a one celled parasite normally contracted via the bite of a female sandfly.

These sandflys and the parasite they carry are endemic to many countries in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Locals and visitors to these endemic areas are always at risk of contracting Leishmaniasis if precautions are not taken to keep from being bitten.

Leishmaniasis is no more a War Hazard than Malaria or any of the regular work place accidents that occur while working overseas yet are not reimbursable under the War Hazards Act.

So unless the female sandflys have taken up arms and joined Al Qaeda and the Taliban, which would require a complete reversal regarding their views on women…..

The War Hazards Tribunal up in Ohio needs to beware the DBA Insurance Company attempts to paint them as insurgents.

This is the first in our series of reports on Leishmaniasis which most of you who worked in the War Zones were exposed to.

Statistically, it is likely that many of you carry this parasite unawares………

May 22, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Defense Base Act, Leishmaniasis, Toxic, War Hazards Act | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Marine EOD Staff Sergeant Stephen J Dunning killed in Afghanistan

Milpitas Marine Awarded Purple Heart, Was Killed Disarming Bomb

Marine Staff Sgt. Stephen J. Dunning, 31, of Milpitas, has received a posthumous Purple Heart. Dunning is a graduate of Milpitas HIgh School.

Marine Staff Sgt. Stephen J. Dunning, 31, of Milpitas, was killed Thursday in Afghanistan.

The U.S. Department of Defense said Dunning was an explosive ordinance disposal technician, and was killed while attempting to disarm an explosive device in the Helmand province when he was killed.

Dunning has been awarded a posthumous Purple Heart.

During his career, he also collected many other service awards, including the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Unit Commendation, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, Good Conduct Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, and the NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan. He also received two letters of appreciation and a certificate of commendation, individual award.

Dunning joined the Marine Corps on April 19, 1999. At the time of his death, he was assigned to the 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, which is normally based in Okinawa, Japan, where he had been serving since June of 2009. His unit was recently sent to Afghanistan to support Operation Enduring Freedom

Memorial Service Planned

October 30, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Improvised Explosive Devices | , , , , , , | 1 Comment