Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Defense Base Act Class Action

Statement concerning filing of class action for fraud and bad faith against KBR, DynCorp, Blackwater, G4S/Wackenhut/Ronco Consulting, CNA Insurance, AIG Insurance and others who conspired to deny benefits to severely injured contractors and to harm them further

Scott Bloch  files complaint for $2 billion against major government contractors like

KBR, Blackwater.XE,  DynCorp, G4S/Wackenhut/Ronco Consulting and the global insurance carriers AIG, CNA, ACE and Zurich, on behalf of thousands of former employees, for unlawful, fraudulent and bad-faith mistreatment of injured employees and their families   

WASHINGTON, DC (September 26, 2011)

Since 2003, top government contractors like Blackwater, KBR, DynCorp, CSA/AECOM and ITT have been perpetrating a fraud on their employees and on the American public. 

The silent warriors who work for these companies, many of them decorated former military service members, have been injured, mistreated and abandoned by the contracting companies and their insurance carriers who have been paid hundreds of millions of dollars in premiums.

“It is a grave injustice,” Bloch said, “to those who rode alongside American soldiers, including Iraqi and Afghani Nationals, to be case aside without the benefits of the law.  We are supposedly trying to bring them the rule of law.  We are supposedly trying to encourage them in democratic institutions. 

We are the ones asking them to believe in justice and individual rights. 

This is a travesty to all Americans and those around the world who look to America for an example of humanitarian aid and proper treatment of workers.”

This is a lawsuit for damages in the amount of $2 billion to remedy the injuries and destruction caused to the lives, finances and mental and physical well being of thousands of American families and others whose loved ones were injured while serving America under contracts with the United States. 

It seeks an additional unspecified amount to punish the companies who made massive profits while causing this harm to people unlawfully and maliciously and working a fraud on the American public who paid them.  
“This abusive and illegal scheme by the defendants has been allowed to go on for too long. 

We are talking about loss of life, suicide, loss of homes, marriages, families split up, “ Bloch said, “and the culprits are the large government contractors who should have treated their employees better, and the mega-insurance companies who were paid a hefty sum to make sure the employees were taken care of with uninterrupted benefits in the event of injuries in these war zones.”
This complaint is filed due to actions and omissions of defendants, in conspiracy with others, and individually, to defeat the right of American citizens and foreign nationals to receive their lawful benefits and compensation under the Defense Base Act (“DBA”),  as it adopts the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (“LHWCA”).  
The lawsuit explains that those sued engaged under the RICO statute in an enterprise of fraudulent and or criminal acts to further their scheme to defeat the rights of individuals who have been injured or suffered occupational diseases, and death, while on foreign soil in support of defense activities under the DBA.  

These acts were perpetrated repeatedly through bank fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, using telephones, faxes, and United States mail .
 “These are heroes, decorated by America’s Armed Services,” said Bloch. 

“Some of the foreign contractors were decorated special forces soldiers from their countries who assisted the United States in combating threats.  The sheer disregard for human dignity and law is reprehensible and deserves punishment. 

These families and many others who have been harmed need treatment, need compensation, need redress of the wrongs that have been perpetrated by these huge companies and insurance carriers for the last 10 years. 

They have earned $100 billion per year on the backs of these people, with the blood of these plaintiffs and those whom they represent.”
The complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and covers individuals from all over the United States, South Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan and other counties.  

Contact Scott J. Bloch, PA:
Scott Bloch, 202-496-1290
scott@scottblochlaw.com

September 26, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, AIG and CNA, Blackwater, Civilian Casualties, Civilian Contractors, Civilian Police, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Defense Base Act, DynCorp, Follow the Money, Government Contractor, Interpreters, Iraq, KBR, L-3, Legal Jurisdictions, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Ronco, Ronco Consulting Corporation, State Department, Traumatic Brain Injury, USACE, USAID, Veterans, Wackenhut, War Hazards Act, Whistleblower | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Defense Base Act Insurance Company CNA hires Double Agent to spy on Injured War Zone Contractors

South African Injured Contractors want to know:

“Since when is it ok for honest injured contractors suffering from “TBI” AND “PTSD” plus others who lost legs and arms and even eyes to be investigated by criminals and people who served terrorist dictators????

According to those SA Injured Contractors we’ve spoken with this double agent has promised them

“the world, the stars and the moon, even telling them that he will see that they get better and higher amounts for mileage traveled than what CNA are currently paying”.

All an attempt to placate them while CNA continues to screw them over.

Well at least they hired a professional liar this time.

Kevin Woods, Double Agent, Murderer

More on Defense Base Act Insurance Company CNA here

March 9, 2011 Posted by | AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Government Contractor, Legal Jurisdictions, Pirates, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Experts look at civilians hurt supporting war

“These individuals are increasingly an integral part of the mission but have been almost completely ignored in the medical literature. That needs to change so that we can develop better methods of injury and disease prevention.”

February 21, 2011  By Stephanie Desmon Johns Hopkins Medicine

After analyzing data on 2,155 private contractors, diplomats and other civilians supporting war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan who were medically evacuated from combat zones, researchers have found that such civilians are more likely to be evacuated for noncombat-related injuries but more likely to return to work in-country after treatment for these conditions.

Still, the findings of the Johns Hopkins–led research team, published online in CMAJ, the journal of the Canadian Medical Association, note that 75 percent of the nonmilitary group medically evacuated from the war zones to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany between 2004 and 2007 did not return to the field.

“Everyone is understandably focused on the troops, but wars have fundamentally changed. Today, roughly half of those deployed in Iraq and two-thirds in Afghanistan are not members of the military,” said study leader Steven P. Cohen, an associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves. “These individuals are increasingly an integral part of the mission but have been almost completely ignored in the medical literature. That needs to change so that we can develop better methods of injury and disease prevention.”

February 21, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Iraq | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Wikipedia Journalism” Can be Contagious

Many Injured Contractors were repatriated via the Military Medical Evacuation System which was/is badly contaminated with Multi Drug Resistant Acinetobacter baumannii.  Soldiers and Contractors alike lost lives and limbs to this dangerous Superbug.

Injured Contractors played an even larger role in the spread of MDRAb across the US and to every country of the “coalition” than did the soldiers themselves.  Injured Contractors were infected  in field hospitals, Landstuhl, Walter Reed, Bethesda Naval, and then transferred to Civilian Community hospitals.    Civilian hospitals were seldom warned their new transfers were infected with a life threatening highly contagious bacteria.

The DoD’s usual knee jerk reaction was to cover this problem up rather than deal with it.  Lie about to be exact.

Steve Silberman, Investigative Journalist for Wired, has written again, on the spread of this Superbug and the Military and “Wikipedia Journalism’s” aiding and abetting the enemy.

Is Wikipedia Journalism Aiding the Spread of a Deadly Superbug?

By Steve Silberman at NeuroTribes

Japan is in an uproar. Last week, officials at the Teikyo University Hospital admitted that 46 patients in the past year have been infected with an antibiotic-resistant bacterium called Acinetobacter baumannii, and that 27 have died. Today, the number of infected patients was increased to 53, and hospital announced that it would admit no new patients until it checks for the presence of the bacteria in more than 800 patients currently in the hospital. In a contrite press conference, hospital officials admitted that they had not promptly reported the infections to local authorities as they are legally required to do, and that this delay likely contributed to the spread of the bacteria through the wards, and to patient deaths.

Meanwhile, other Tokyo hospitals are also now reporting infections and deaths. Yurin Hospital discovered that eight of its patients — aged 59 to 100 — were colonized by the bacteria, and four of them have died. Three patients at the Metropolitan Geriatric Hospital were also infected, and one has died. The bacteria seems to be spreading rapidly through hospitals in the Japanese metropolis, aided by patient transfers, overuse of antibiotics, lack of sufficient infection control, and failure to report the infections to health authorities. Seeking to place the blame for the seemingly sudden upsurge of the bacteria, The Daily Yomiuri ominously speculated today, “Could medical tourists bring something more sinister than their own health problems with them when they come to Japan?”

Sadly, none of this is a surprise to me: not the rapid spread of the bacteria, not the deaths, and not the failure to acknowledge the problem until numerous patients had died or become colonized, and not the frantic seeking to place the blame by demonizing people from other cultures. The same pattern emerged in an epidemic of Acinetobacter baumannii infections among American and Canadian troops returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which I wrote about for Wired magazine in 2007, in an in-depth investigative feature called “The Invisible Enemy.”

Back then, it was the U.S. Defense Department officials who were slow to acknowledge rampant acinetobacter infections in the ranks, and they were not nearly as eager to take responsibility as Japanese officials have been this week. Indeed, there seemed to be a coordinated effort to mislead the press about the true source of the infections. Antibiotic-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii is almost always found in hospitals and other health care facilities. It is a nosocomial infection — like MRSA, Clostridium difficile, and the other horsemen of the post-antibiotic apocalypse, it preys on those who are already sick, elderly, or traumatically injured, piling agony upon agony. That’s why troops and civilians gravely wounded in war are one of acinetobacter’s favorite target demographics: all that fresh, exposed meat, left undefended by already weakened immune systems or immunosuppressive drugs. Particularly among the young — car-crash victims and the like — many acinetobacter infections go undetected, because the primary trauma alone is enough to kill the patient.

The story coming from Washington, however, was that the source of the bacteria was Iraqi insurgents who were intentionally “dosing” improvised explosive devices (IEDs) with the superbug, in the form of dog feces or rotting meat. The alternate version of the official story was that Acinetobacter baumannii lurks in the Iraqi soil itself, waiting to pounce on young American warriors like some kind of microbial jihad. In the fog of war, reporters bought these official story lines and parroted them dutifully, from CNN’s Situation Room to CBS correspondent Kimberly Dozier, who called A. baumanniian Iraqi bacteria” (as if organisms carry passports) after barely surviving an IED attack and subsequent infection in 2006. In the military and the press, the bacteria acquired the catchy nickname “Iraqibacter,” which has a darkly ironic grain of truth to it — wounded Iraqi citizens cared for in our field hospitals in the early days of the war became infected at much higher rates than our troops, and were then released back into a country with a health-care infrastructure that had been bombed back to the Stone Age.

For more information about how the Pentagon conducted a secret war against this bacteria, see my 2007 story. But I knew when I filed it that the saga of the medical battle against Acinetobacter baumannii was just beginning. Since my story ran, there have been numerous outbreaks of the superbug in hospitals in Europe and Asia, with scores of patients — both military and civilian — left dead.

In time, the “dosed IED” story slowly faded away. But one aspect of the misleading press coverage of the bacteria refuses to die: the notion — repeated by the Mainichi Daily News and other Japanese papers this week — that multi-drug resistant Acinetobacter baumannii is commonly found in water and soil. This notion — that A. baumannii is nearly ubiquitous in the natural world — has been reinforced by everyone from local TV news stations to the New York Times.

Multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii is not commonly found in water and soil. It is found in hospitals and clinics, where the tenacious organisms earn their resistance to the best drugs we can throw at them; it is particularly prevalent in intensive-care units, lurking among those moist places where medical equipment enters the body, such as catheters and breathing tubes.

To put it another way, Acinetobacter baumannii is not a “wild” superbug. It is a thoroughly domesticated superbug, inadvertently trained and evolved by us, living alongside us in a terrible synergy, and thriving on the spoils of war, aging, disease, and the failure to implement proper infection controls.

Beyond misleading shaggy dog-poop stories from Pentagon spokespeople, the source of this problem in journalism may be tragically mundane. Acinetobacter in general — that is, not baumannii — is one of the largest and most diverse genera of bacteria on the planet, comprising more than 30 distinct species, including Acinetobacter baylyi and Acinetobacter haemolyticus. Right up at the top of the Wikipedia entry for Acinetobacter, Googling journalists on deadline are informed that the bacteria is an “important soil organism.” While that’s true of some members of the genus, it’s not true of the species causing these infections. You have to get down in the fine print to realize that A. baumannii — the evolutionary sequel — is a whole other kind of beast, native to hospitals, and worthy of its own Wikipedia entry.

This confusion has resulted in hundreds of news stories — and even a fact sheet [PDF link] put out by the Infectious Diseases Society of America — claiming that Acinetobacter baumannii is “commonly found in water and soil,” when the scientist who discovered antibiotic resistance in the organism, Lenie Dijkshoorn, a senior researcher at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, told me when I interviewed her for my Wired story, “My colleagues and I have been looking for Acinetobacter baumannii in soil samples for years, and we haven’t found it. These organisms are quite rare outside of hospitals.”

So what’s the big deal?  The big deal is that errors in medical journalism — particularly ones that proliferate everywhere in big media virtually unchallenged — can lead to bad medicine. I felt a chill pass over me when I read a 2006 paper in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that quoted Major Homer Tien, a Canadian trauma surgeon serving in Afghanistan, saying that because he believed the windblown desert sand carries A. baumannii, “There’s talk of building an antechamber to the hospital, so you’d have a double set of doors, to help keep the sand out.”

In any health-care setting, infection-control resources are stretched thin. Hospitals — on the front lines or back home — simply cannot afford this kind of confusion. Every news story that echoes the false claim that Acinetobacter baumannii is “commonly found in soil and water” is part of the problem.

A citizen journalist named Marcie Hascall Clark — the wife of a contractor who picked up the bacteria in a hospital after being wounded in Baghdad — has been sounding the alarm for years, a voice in the online wilderness. By 2007, when I wrote my Wired story, many physicians in the military had already figured out what was really going on, and were starting to implement strict protocols — including rebuilding the field hospitals, increasing disease surveillance, and isolating infected and colonized patients — to minimize colonization and new infections among wounded troops. The US medical establishment and smart science bloggers like Maryn McKenna, author of Superbug, have also awakened to the growing threat of this particularly nasty and adaptive organism. “In the all-star annals of resistant bugs,” McKenna wrote in June, “A. baumannii is an underappreciated player.”

Much of the media, however — from America to Japan — has yet to catch up.

September 8, 2010 Posted by | Acinetobacter, Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Iraq, Pentagon, Propaganda | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

WikiLeaks war logs show unreported plight of contractors

The WikiLeaks war logs show in sometimes gruesome detail how Afghan contractors working for the Defense Department have borne much of the worst violence of the nine-year war.

By Justin Elliot at Salon

Salon recently reported that 260 private security contractors — virtually all of them Afghan — were killed in action in a 10-month period. But the WikiLeaks war logs document previously unreported violence against other types of contractors too — those who do construction and drive trucks and serve food and perform all the other work that makes the war possible.

In September 2006, in a remote area northeast of Kandahar, troops found a decapitated body on the side of the road, with the knife “presumed to be used to decapitate him … still there,” along with a letter. “The letter states that he was a contractor working for the US at Nawa and that he was murdered because he was helping the US,” the log says. The log ends with “nothing further to report.”

The gruesome incident was never publicly reported by the Pentagon and thus did not appear in the media, according to a Nexis search.

Here’s another incident from 2008  — one of dozens that was never reported. This one occurred in western Afghanistan and two contractors had their legs blown off:

At 0810 local time on 24 Sep, an vehicle was struck by an IED, 3 [civilian contractors] were injured during the incident, 2 have lost their legs and remain in a critical condition in Herat hospital and 1 is in stable condition.

Read the full story at Salon

July 26, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Defense Base Act, NATO, Pentagon, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , | 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

Inside the No Bid Deal for Iraqi Interpreters

MEP says they are working with their insurance company to make sure all wounded employees are treated quickly, and properly

This we’d like to hear more about…………

Unlimited Talk, Only $679 Million

By Noah Shactman   Danger Room   Wired

Three years ago, Mission Essential Personnel, LLC was a miniscule military contractor, banking less than $6 million annually to find a handful of linguists for the American government. Earlier this week, the U.S. Army handed the Columbus, Ohio company a one-year, no-bid $679 million extension of its current contract to field a small city’s worth of translators to help out American forces in Afghanistan. Not bad for a company that’s been accused of everything from abandoning wounded employees to sending out-of-shape interpreters to the front lines. MEP vigorously rejects the charges.

The U.S. -led counterinsurgency strategy for Afghanistan relies on gaining the trust of the local population. But those relationships can’t be established without people who can speak Afghanistan’s array of languages. So the American military turns to Mission Essential Personnel (MEP) to recruit, screen, and bring more than 5,000 of those interpreters to the battlefield. Today, no other company comes close to supplying as many translators in Afghanistan. And with this new “indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity with cost-plus-award fee contract,” MEP is guaranteed another year as the dominant player in the translation market there.

To MEP spokesman Sean Rushton, the $679 million contract extension is a validation of “our very positive performance” — and a stop-gap measure to ensure that U.S. forces can keep talking with the locals while a more competitive contract is prepared to be put up for bid. Tens of thousands of fresh troops are streaming into Afghanistan for a new offensive there; they need people who can speak the language. “Obviously, this coincides with the surge,” Rushton tells Danger Room.

A small handful of MEP’s translators are American citizens of Afghan descent. If they have the right language skills, and can pass a security clearance, they can make up to $235,000 per year, plus health benefits and a 401-K, “analyz[ing] communications” and “perform[ing] document exploitation” on one of Afghanistan’s big, comfortable military bases. But the vast majority of MEP’s recruits are local Afghans, earning about $900 a month to accompany frontline troops into action. These interpreters are given a week’s worth of training before they’re shipped out to combat. Once there, they’re required to spend a year working 12-hour days, seven days a week, and be on-call during the remaining time.

It can be a grueling schedule. The work is dangerous — “some 24 MEP linguists have been killed and 56 injured” in less than two years, CorpWatch’s Pratap Chatterjee reported. Not all of MEP’s hires are up for it.

“In just the bare minimal outlines of how they could run their contract effectively, they are a resounding failure, and have a knack for hiring septuagenarians for combat units while misassigning their language skills,” Registan.net’s Josh Foust complained last summer.

I’ve met guys off the planes and have immediately sent them back because they weren’t in the proper physical shape,” linguist supervisor Gunnery Sgt. James Spangler told the AP around this same time. “They were too old. They couldn’t breathe. They complained about heart problems,” he said.

But the Army, not MEP, assigns where interpreters go. And the military’s contract doesn’t specify how many pull-ups an MEP translator has to do. Besides, senior citizens can be invaluable in a senior commander’s headquarters, Rushton responds. “All of our linguists meet and exceed the requirements that we were given,” he says.

MEP instantly became Afghanistan’s biggest linguist shop in 2007, after the defense contractor Titan only managed to muster about half of the translators it promised to the military. The U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command put the translation contract up for competitive bid, and awarded the job to MEP, a start-up founded by special forces veterans. Today, the company, lead by former marine and Blackwater vice president Chris Taylor, says it fills 97 percent of the translators’ billets, up from Titan’s 41 percent fulfillment rate.

While MEP hasn’t faced the kind of scrutiny paid to contractors like Blackwater, the firm has come under fire for the treatment of its linguists. Chatterjee reported last year that MEP rehired many of Titan’s old interpreters — and then promptly cut their salaries by as much as 50%. Some were canned, for seemingly flimsy reasons. One linguist, wounded in action, felt he was fired, essentially, for getting hurt.

MEP insists the accusations are way off-base. ”We’re very committed to making our company a different kind of company. To giving these guys better treatment,” Rushton says. “We bend over backwards to provide benefits and medical care.” But, according to Chatterjee, MEP’s record of caring for injured translators is far from perfect. When interpreter Abdul Hameed was wounded by an improvised bomb last August, MEP made sure he received disability pay. But it was only “$110.01 a week — barely enough to pay for his medical expenses.” MEP says they are working with their insurance company to make sure all wounded employees are treated quickly, and properly. Meanwhile, the company is gearing up for the Army’s next translation contract. A formal request for proposals is expected to be released by the end of the summer.

May 12, 2010 Posted by | AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contract Awards, Contractor Corruption, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Security Contractors killed in IED Blast, Afghanistan, May 6, 2010

A young American, a civilian contractor, working as a security guard was involved in an IED blast. He was the backseat passenger in a vehicle similar to a Toyota Land Cruiser – NOT the armored MRAP vehicle I mentioned in an earlier post on this blog. The driver and front-seat passenger were killed at the scene.

I was Overcome

Another date that will be forever etched in my mind is Thursday, 6 May 2010. I had just returned from the gym. It was about 1330 when I walked into the FST building expecting to see what I normally see at that time of day, a few folks sitting in the ICU area reading, bullshitting or on the computers. There was no one there, which was odd, but I could hear some voices in the ATLS area (where our trauma patients enter our facility), so I realized we must have received a patient. What I didn’t realize was that I was about to be involved in the care of a patient with the most horrific and devastating injuries our team may ever see. A young American, a civilian contractor, working as a security guard was involved in an IED blast. He was the backseat passenger in a vehicle similar to a Toyota Land Cruiser – NOT the armored MRAP vehicle I mentioned in an earlier post on this blog. The driver and front-seat passenger were killed at the scene. Now, we typically are notified by telephone or radio when patients will be arriving, but in this case there was no “heads-up”. There was a medic on this patient’s team who performed some initial life-saving interventions at the scene and then had him driven directly to us since we were the closest medical facility. He had vital signs (blood pressure and heart beat) until he got to the front gate of the FOB, less than a minute’s drive to the FST.

I walked in just minutes after his arrival, amazed at what I saw. I watched as HM2 Gavin Rampertaap was performing CPR. I watched HM3 Kevin Hines assisting the patient’s breathing with a bag-valve mask through a breathing tube inserted by the medic (I don’t know how he placed the tube; you could barely see where the patient’s mouth was on his face). I watched HM2 Alonzo (I call him Zo) Shields running to the OR to get equipment. I watched HM3 Hasan Hafiz and HN John Hitchcock cutting off the patient’s pants from what was left of his legs – both were mangled. I watched HM2 Patrick Malveda applying a tourniquet to what was left of the patient’s right arm. I watched Doc Z, bald head and all, inserting a large bore IV into a big vein in the patient’s chest so I could start transfusing blood. I watched LCDR Sue Howell documenting everything that was being done to the patient while at the same time trying to get information about the incident from the medic who brought him to us. I watched CDR Charlie Godinez directing the entire team as he pondered his next intervention; which happened to be another emergency thoracotomy (see earlier post Birthday Cakes and Bombs). While CDR Godinez was “cracking” the patient’s chest, CDR Cheuk Hong was attempting to place another large bore IV in the patients groin so that we could get more blood into the patient faster. After all of the above interventions failed to get the patient’s heart to beat again, he was pronounced dead at 1413. This resuscitation was different for me. I had a different perspective. Maybe it was because I was only transfusing blood – I don’t know. I kind of stood back and watched the expressions on the other team member’s faces as they worked. It was surreal, like I wasn’t really there.

We decided early on in this mission that we would debrief as a group after every resuscitation – to talk about what we did well, or not-so-well, and to provide “lessons learned” in the event we have a similar patient in the future. Whoever led the trauma resuscitation leads the debrief then proceeds around the room asking for input from every member of the team who was involved. So, CDR Godinez started and when he was through he went around the trauma bay asking for comments; I was somewhere near the middle of the group, but I wasn’t really listening to what anyone was saying. I just kept thinking about the effort those young corpsmen just put into trying to save that man’s life. I’m almost certain none of them ever saw anything so shocking in their lives. Any one of them could have easily thought the situation was too overwhelming for them and just walked out, and everyone else there would have understood. But, they didn’t. They pressed on, without missing a beat. The next thing I know I hear CDR Godinez say my name, but I found myself unable to speak. I was so overcome I was crying – tears and snot running down my face. I simply shook my head side-to-side. I wasn’t crying because a great man just died in front of me with injuries that would make almost anyone else vomit. I was crying because I was overwhelmed with pride; I was proud to be a part of this outstanding team, doing incredible things, under austere conditions, in a fourth-world country. But mostly I was proud of the corpsmen. They are all between 22 and 29 years old. Many are married and most have children. They don’t get paid a lot and the most junior often get some of the worst taskings here, but when the shit hits the fan like it did on this day, you know they are going to be there, doing what they do, and it’s an unbelievable thing to witness. I am honored to know, and get to work with, every one of them!

And we are honored to have you caring for our casualties…….

May 10, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

AIG, CNA, ACE Denials Add to Overburdened VA System

Thousands of Injured Contractors  are being treated by the VA because AIG,  CNA , ACE, refuse to accept their responsibility to provide medical benefits earned by  injured contractors.   Yes, you earned those benefits, they were paid for.

Despite these huge numbers there are those who want to advocate the use of the VA by all injured war zone contractors .   We say AIG and CNA have been paid to provide these services and need to do so or get out of the business.  Congress and the Department of Labor need stop putting this off and deal with it.  The VA  has enough to do without subsidizing greedy insurance companies and taking away from military war casualties.

Towards Excellence for Veterans

In 2003, Bush administration officials estimated that about 50,000 U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq eventually would file disability claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

In this, as with so many things about the wars, the administration woefully underestimated, this time by a factor of 10. Already some 500,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have filed for disability — about one in every three who served.

With nearly 200,000 troops still deployed in the two nations, that number surely will rise. And the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are the smallest part of the VA’s current disability workload.

The Chicago Tribune reported last month that 84 percent of the increase in VA disability claims over the past seven years came from veterans of the Vietnam and Persian Gulf Wars. In all, the VA paid out $34.4 billion in disability to more than 3 million veterans. The biggest single category for Vietnam, Persian Gulf and “war on terror” veterans: $8 billion for post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological disabilities.

Funding isn’t the problem — Congress and the Obama administration have approved major boosts in VA spending in the last two budget years. The problem is the sheer size of the workload.   And it’s about to get bigger.   Read this in it’s entirety here

May 5, 2010 Posted by | AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Private Military Contractors | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

IPOA Director: Critics of private contractors “don’t understand what the industry does”

The International Peace Operations Association has an admirable goal in mind, promoting higher standards and requiring ethical operations of their membership.

We support the IPOA and it’s  goals but would like to see some support for the injured employees some of their members have abused.

Senior stability operations figure believes that contractors must endeavour to educate the public on the facts.

Mar 25, 2010 – In recent years, the demand for stability operations has risen sharply, coming from both NATO and many struggling nations. Yet the majority of publicity tends to cast a negative shadow over private contractor involvement in these regions, claiming that governments are faced with a conflict of interests in involving contracting companies in the formation of defence budgets.

Sometime-cynics include David Isenberg of The Huffington Post, who has written extensively on both the pros and cons of the PMC emergence. Yet for vocal opponents like author and activist Naomi Klein, such firms are seen to merely exploit disaster-struck countries for profit. The Facebook group “No Shock Doctrine for Haiti”, based on Klein’s condemnation, has well over 37,000 members.

J.J. Messner, Director of the International Peace Operations Assosciation (IPOA), the umbrella association for the stability operations industry, described this view as a “very unfortunate”

way of seeing the matter.

Speaking to DefenceIQ, Messner spoke of the support that contractors offer in terms of freeing the army to deal with foreign policy affairs and focusing on the suppression of insurgents, actions fundamental to transitioning a region out of warzone status. Likewise, disaster-hit areas can benefit from the speedy action of these companies in the immediate aftermath of the emergency.

“Ultimately what we can see is that – in the wake of the earthquake in Haiti – there was an immense amount of suffering, there was an immense amount of capacity needed at very short notice, and some private contractors were able to provide airlift support, medical support and logistics at very short notice.”

With the resources of the US military already strained across Afghanistan and Iraq, and with this situation coinciding with a period of military downsizing, Messner holds that IPOA’s companies can provide peace-keeping support and expertise that otherwise wouldn’t be there or are not so widely available in non-profit organisations.

He also addressed the misconception that private contractors in conflict zones are dominated by private military companies such as the extremely controversial and former-member Blackwater.

“It becomes abundantly clear with many of the critics of the industry that they really don’t quite understand what the industry does. If you look at the industry as a whole, I think it’s probably fair to say that 90% of the industry concerns itself with logistics and non-security services, whereas the average man on the street will often think it’s all about heavily armed security contractors.”

“Those kinds of perceptions are very important to tackle because – when it comes to a public perception point of view – if you are sending a number of contractors into a particular country, if the public at large believe that those contractors are going to be heavily armed security contractors…their amount of support is probably going to be different than to if they act knew that the vast majority of them are going to be providing services such as logistics, or medical support, or air lift.”

He added that re-balancing the argument for private contractors and making the public aware of the positive aspects of the firms “really is one of the key roles that IPOA has to fill over the years – an educational role”.

As for critics who argue that the actions of contractors need to be transparent, Messner couldn’t agree more.

“You tend to see the criticism focused a lot more on, for example, oversight and accountability, and we would completely agree that those are areas really do need to be addressed and those areas are very important to get right, rather than [debating] the industry’s existence in the first place.
This is a press release that can be read here

March 25, 2010 Posted by | AIG and CNA, Defense Base Act, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

T Christian Miller on Bill Carlisle and Injured War Zone Contractors

Bill Carlisle interviewed by T Miller

T Miller brings to light yet another Injured War Zone Contractor who is about to become  homeless due to the unwarranted  denial of Defense Base Act insurance benefits by AIG.    Bill Carlisle has worked hard his whole life and was working hard when he was injured.  Thanks to AIG and the fact no one in Congress or the DoL seems to give a damn, Bill’s home is in foreclosure with a sale date within the month.

So what if he eventually gets the payments he is already supposed to be getting?  His credit is ruined and he won’t be able to buy another home.   He’s just another KBR AIG DBA casualty.  AIG and CNA are ruining one life right after another.

Why is the Taxpayer paying for these benefits?

In recent years, the Pentagon has come to increasingly rely on private military contractors to do the work that members of the military used to do. But as the number of civilian contractors has grown, so too has the number of deaths and injuries of those contractors and with it, the cost of paying health care benefits for their injury claims.

T. Christian Miller [1] recently won the Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting [2] for his coverage of the numerous obstacles contractors face [3] when they’ve been injured and try to collect benefits. We spoke to him about who is responsible for taking care of injured contractors, the ordeal they have to go through to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, the role AIG plays in this, contractor suicide rates and how Congress is addressing the problem.

We also hear from one of the people facing the difficulties Miller has documented. Bill Carlisle Jr. was a contractor with defense firm KBR. He sustained both physical and psychological injuries, and is now fighting insurer AIG for the benefits he says they owe him

Go here to listen to the Podcast

Articles discussed in this podcast:

Injured War Zone Contractors Fight to Get Care From AIG and Other Insurers

The Other Victims of Battlefield Stress; Defense Contractors’ Mental Health Neglected

Injured Abroad, Neglected at Home: Labor Dept. Slow to Help War Zone Contractors

Labor Dept., Congress Plan Improvements to System to Care for Injured War Contractors

Pentagon Study Proposes Overhaul of Defense Base Act to Cover Care for injured Contractors

Download this episode

March 12, 2010 Posted by | AIG and CNA, Contractor Casualties, KBR | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Toxic Water in Iraq

NBC News Investigation: Toxic water in Iraq

By Rich Gardella and Lisa Myers

Hundreds of National Guardsmen potentially exposed to toxic chemical at Iraq water treatment plant in 2003

www.mssparky.com for the ongoing story and investigation

Throughout 2003, after the combat phase of the Iraq War had ended, the U.S. military and defense contractors raced to try and fix Iraq’s infrastructure.
Working in a war zone obviously presents unexpected challenges and dangers far beyond the usual ones at industrial worksites.  But this is the story of why some Army National Guardsmen are suing defense contractor KBR because of alleged exposures to a toxic chemical at one such industrial worksite in Iraq.
Video: Soldiers sue over alleged toxic exposure
Web only video: Air had a ‘strange metallic taste,’ says soldier

When specialist Larry Roberta of the Oregon Army National Guard went to Iraq in 2003, he expected sandstorms, physical hardship, perhaps even combat.  What he didn’t expect was the orange dust he encountered, all over the place, at the Qarmat Ali Water Treatment Plant, near Basra in southern Iraq.

“You could taste stuff in the air,” Roberta recalled. “It had a really strange metallic taste.”

Roberta’s unit and other Army National Guard units were at the plant during the spring and summer of 2003, in the months after the U.S. invasion that March.  Their mission was to provide security for workers repairing the plant.  It supplied water to Iraqi oil fields, and was an important part of the U.S. mission to get Iraq’s oil flowing again. The workers were repairing the plant for defense contractor Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR).

Roberta and other Guardsmen and former KBR employees told NBC News that the orange dust was throughout the plant and the grounds, and sometimes would permeate the air during when the desert winds blew.
“It blew up in my face and on my chicken patty and my mouth and stuff like that,” Roberta said.  “I didn’t really think a whole lot of it other than it tasted really bad and made me throw up and burned.”
Capt. Russell Kimberling of the Indiana Army National Guard told us he asked KBR officials what the dust was.
“What we got from them was,’It’s a mild irritant,'” Kimberling said.

But the dust actually was a highly toxic chemical called sodium dichromate,  which scientists have found can cause lung cancer in humans.
It had been used by Iraqi workers prior to the war to prevent corrosion in the pipes at the plant.  There were hundreds of bags at the chemical at the plant, some of them clearly labeled.
The mission’s official military name was Task Force RIO (“Restoration of Iraqi Oil”).  KBR got the contract.

Six years later, some of the Guardsmen assigned to provide security for Task Force RIO at the plant are dead, dying or suffering from serious health problems–including rashes, perforated septums and lung disease. One of the foremost experts in sodium dichromate, Dr. Herman  Gibb, says the Guardsmen’s symptoms are consistent with “significant exposure” to the chemical.

KBR argues that the company is not to blame. The company says it told the Army about the dangerous chemical as soon as it was identified at the plant.  That, the company says, was on July 25, 2003.

But, international KBR documents contradict that claim, and indicate that the company became aware of the chemical at the site two months earlier.
One internal KBR document notes that “an environmental technician identified the chemical in May.”  The document’s author was a KBR manager who oversaw health and safety for the Qarmat Ali project.
Another KBR document warns not only that the chemical is present at the plant but also that some areas are “potentially contaminated” with it.  The author of that memo, a KBR health and safety employee, suggests testing and cleanup.  That document is dated June 21, 2003.  That’s more than one month before KBR alerted the Army, and more than two months before the Guardsmen became aware of the danger.
Several Guardsmen recall that it wasn’t until late August that they learned of the hazard, and then only because they saw KBR workers wearing white chemical suits.

“They were in full protective chemical gear,” Russell Kimberling told us.   “You know, from head to toe.  I kind of looked at one of my men and just said, ‘this can’t be good, can it?'”

Although KBR did remediation work in mid-August, it wasn’t until several weeks after that, on September 8, 2003, that KBR shut down the Qarmat Ali plant and did a more extensive cleanup – “out of abundance of caution,” it explained in a statement to NBC News. The plant remained closed until mid-October.
In all, during 2003, more than 700 soldiers passed through the Qarmat Ali plant, mostly Guard units from Indiana, Oregon, South Carolina and West Virginia.  Some of these Guardsmen say they began experiencing physical symptoms – headaches, bloody noses, sinus and respiratory problems – soon after arriving at the plant in the summer of 2003.

Larry Roberta’s medical records confirm he reported breathing problems and chest pains during a visit to a medic that July.  The military evacuated Russ Kimberling from the site that summer so a severe sinus infection in his nasal cavity could heal.
Since then, other soliders who served at Qarmat Ali have experienced serious illnesses.  Some have died.  First Sgt. David moore of the Indiana Army National Guard died of lunch disease in 2008 at age 42.  The commander of Kimerling’s Indiana Army National Guard Unity, Lt. Col James Gentry, died of a rare lunch cancer of the day before Thanksgiving.  He had claimed to be a lifelong non-smoker.

Six years later, the commander of Kimberling’s Indiana Army National Guard Unit, Lt. Col James Gentry, is terminally ill with a rare lung cancer.  He says he’s a lifelong nonsmoker.
First Sgt. David Moore of the Indiana Army National Guard is dead of lung disease at age 42.
Roberta, a former police officer who climbed Mt. Sinai before he went to Iraq, now struggles to catch his breath when he walks. He has serious stomach and liver issues, migraines and acute respiratory problems, including reactive airway disorder.
“You almost feel like you’re drowning,” Roberta said, after gasping for breath during a coughing fit captured on video by an NBC cameraman.   “You want to breathe, but you just can’t.”
Roberta, Kimberling, Gentry and Moore’s family are part of a lawsuit by Army Guardsmen against KBR, charging that the company knowingly endangered lives by not informing them of the dangers.  The Guardsmen’s law firm, Doyle Raizner of Houston, Texas, has been gathering testimony and documents in the case.

KBR strongly denies wrongdoing.  The company acknowledges that sodium dichromate was present at the plant, and had contaminated parts of it.  But KBR claims it “acted appropriately and on a timely basis” as information about the chemical at the plant became known.  In statements to NBC NewsKBR also claims that it was the Army’s reponsibility to ensure the site was free of environmental hazards.
What’s more, KBR insists that there is no evidence proving that soldiers suffered illnesses or injuries because of exposure to sodium dichromate at the Qarmat Ali plant.
Former KBR employees previously filed their own complaint against the company, making similar allegations.  An arbitrator denied the employees’ claims for damages, arguing that the company was not liable under the provisions of the Defense Base Act, a federal workers compensation law applying to persons working on U.S. military bases outside the U.S. Without discussion, the arbitrator states that “claimants did not present sufficient proof of an injury compensable under Texas law,” where KBR is based.
We consulted Dr. Herman Gibb, one of the foremost experts on sodium dochromate exposure.  Gibb, an epidemiologist, spent 29 years at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, much of that time at the National Center for Environmental Assessment. He is the lead author of a 2000 study of the relationship between lung cancer and sodium dichromate exposure. (That study collected data on the exposures of 2,101 workers at a Baltimore factory, who were exposed to sodium dichromate between 1950 and 1974.)
In an NBC NEWS interview, we asked Dr. Gibb about KBR’s statement.
Lisa Myers: KBR says there is simply no evidence that soldiers were harmed by exposure to this chemical.  Do you agree with that statement?
Dr. Herman Gibb: I don’t see how you can say there’s no evidence.  I mean…they experienced symptoms that are consistent with sodium dichromate exposure.  The exposure must have been fairly significant to be associated with these symptoms.

In claiming no proof of harm to soldiers, KBR specifically points to red blood cell blood tests conducted by the Army’s Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine (CHPPM).  KBR told us the Army’s CHPPM had concluded that “no soldier encountered a significant inhalation exposure while guarding the facility.”
But NBC’s review of the Army’s report showed that what the Center actually reported was that the blood tests “appear to show that there was not a significant inhalation exposure,” and that the Army’s medical team “at the time felt that long-term health effects were very unlikely from the exposure as understood.”

And Dr. Gibb told NBC that the red blood cell tests were too insensitive, and conducted too long after exposure, to be conclusive.
“The test wouldn’t have been very reliable…taken so long after exposure ended,” he said.  “It would be like giving a breathalyzer test to somebody three days after they’d been driving erratically.”
KBR also claims that most air and soil sample tests indicate that “there was no danger from airborne contamination of the plant.”  Dr. Gibb noted that KBR had admitted that the Army’s and KBR’s air and soil and blood tests occurred after KBR had remediated the site.
Since our interview, Dr. Gibb has been hired by lawyers representing the Guardsmen to review material for their case.
KBR provided NBC News an executive summary of a report it claims counters Dr. Gibb’s testimony, prepared as part of KBR’s response to the previous claim by former KBR employees.

The trial for the Guardsmen’s case against KBR likely won’t begin until sometime next year.
Meanwhile, Roberta struggles just to get through each day.

“If KBR did know about this, before we were there,” said Roberta, “it should

have been rectified.”
“They said it was a mild irritant,” Kimberling recalled.  “That’s what I told my soldiers.  And suck it up and drive on with the mission.  Don’t whine about it.  You know, we’re here, let’s do our job and let’s go home.  That’s what we did.”
What upsets some of the Guardsmen most of all is that, after serving their country faithfully, they believe the Army and KBR let them down by not fully acknowledging or investigating their exposure to the toxic chemical or their serious health problems.  Some suffered for years and only recently have a possible explanation why.

In the last few months, the U.S. Government finally has begun to acknowledge their predicament.
The Defense Department’s Inspector General has launched an investigation. That was the result of a formal request from seven Democratic senators, including Sen. Byron Dorgan, chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee, which has been investigating this matter for more than a year.  (The DPC held two hearings on the topic, one in 2008 and one this year.)
In September and October, following a hearing by the Senate’s Veterans Affairs Committee, the Secretary of the Army, Pete Geren, and the Secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department, Gen. Eric Shinseki, sent letters to Sen. Dorgan describing new efforts to contact and examine the 700+ soldiers who potentially were exposed to sodium dichromate at the Qarmat Ali plant.
All these efforts now should help exposed soldiers like Larry Roberta receive medical care, and perhaps eventually yield more substantive answers about how many were exposed to the toxic chemical, how many have health problems because of it, and why this happened at all.

December 31, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

E-mails show KBR feared casualties before deadly attack

KBR security personnel expected casualties the night before six civilian drivers were killed and others injured in an Iraqi ambush, but sent the convoy into a combat zone anyway, according to e-mails presented in a Houston federal court Wednesday.

“There is tons of intel stating tomorrow will be another bad day,” wrote George Seagle, director of security for KBR government operations, the night before the April 9, 2004, attacks. In the e-mail presented in court, he suggested KBR halt convoys for the next day, the first anniversary of the day Baghdad fell in the U.S.-led invasion.

In a flurry of e-mails, many held under seal in the court case for the last year, various KBR employees discussed their concern about possible loss of life.

Seagle responded that he understood the pressures of big politics and contract issues might cause the fuel-delivering convoys to be sent out anyway but “we will get people injured or killed tomorrow.”

And before the ambush but on the same day, Keith Richard, chief of the trucking operation in Iraq, e-mailed KBR’s Houston headquarters saying, “we need to expedite the hiring of drivers. We need drivers in theater soon.”

Plaintiff lawyer Scott Allen presented the e-mails in a hearing before U.S. District Judge Gray Miller to determine whether a jury should hear three lawsuits against KBR.

KBR argues that as a contractor it was acting on the basis of military decisions that are not subject to review by civilian courts.

But a group of injured plaintiffs and family members of the dead allege that KBR and its former parent, Halliburton, put profit above life. They say that drivers were promised safety, but their supervisor, who had been in the military, put them in harm’s way to show the civilian company was tough enough to do jobs the military did in former conflicts.

“They were sacrificed for the profit of KBR,” said Tommy Fibich, whose client is still in a coma.

Sent back on appeal

Fibich said most of the drivers were promised that their safety would come first and they took the job to pay off debts or help put a first generation through college.

KBR lawyers argued that the e-mails and contract details are beside the point and that the case should be tossed because the military and the civilian company were intertwined and federal law prohibits courts from second-guessing military decisions.

“While KBR of course knew about the threats, the company ultimately relied on the judgments and representations of the military,” KBR attorney Ray Biagini told the judge.

Miller accepted that argument once before, tossing out all three suits on grounds that the court could not try a case questioning wartime military decisions.

But the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent the cases back, ruling it may be possible to try the cases without making a “constitutionally impermissible review of wartime decision-making.”

Army not party to case

The cases center on the April 2004 insurgent attack on a KBR convoy of military supply trucks, which killed six civilian truck drivers and wounded 14.

The drivers caught in the ambush were delivering fuel under a multibillion-dollar contract for KBR to transport supplies, build bases, serve meals and provide other logistical support services for American troops in the Middle East.

Plaintiffs in the Houston suits are two injured workers and the family of one who was killed in the attack.

Biagini argued that nothing has changed since the appellate court asked the judge to take another look at the case. He said KBR and the military were indivisible and KBR acted in good faith on the military’s assurances of protection.

KBR lawyers argued that there are half a dozen legal theories under which the lawsuits should be thrown out of court again.

KBR lawyer David Kasanow noted that the U.S. Justice Department sent a letter agreeing the suit should not go to trial. The government letter said the Defense Base Act protects civilian employers like KBR from being sued in a case like this unless they specifically intended employees be injured or killed.

The plaintiffs argued a jury should hear the case because the e-mails show that KBR bosses did know drivers would be injured or killed.

Miller ruled earlier this year that the U.S. Army itself will not be a party to the case. The judge is now expected to take the many legal issues under advisement.

He could toss out the case, or could remove Halliburton as a defendant. Halliburton argues it is improperly named in the suit and it had no control over the events at issue.

If Miller lets the case stand, it is scheduled for jury trial next May.

Read Original Story here

mary.flood@chron.com

November 19, 2009 Posted by | KBR | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Honoring Veterans of the Disposable Army

by T. Christian Miller  ProPublica

contractors_veterans_day_475

Today we honor the veterans who have served in the country’s armed forces. Nobody seriously questions whether they deserve such recognition. The men and women who defended this country and fought its wars made immeasurable sacrifices.

I have spent much of the last year writing [1] about another group of people who suffered losses on behalf of U.S. interests abroad: the civilian contractors injured or killed [1] while doing their jobs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They are not, of course, soldiers. They could quit their jobs and go home any time they wanted. Many were paid far higher wages than their military counterparts. They knew they were signing up to take a specific job in a dangerous part of the world.

And yet, neither are the contractors working in Afghanistan and Iraq ordinary laborers. Civilians compose half the manpower [2] in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have seen and experienced the full horror of war. More than a thousand have been killed. Thousands more have suffered debilitating physical and mental injuries [3]. And yet, the Pentagon does not even know how many have died, nor how many are actually working [4] (PDF).

I have come to see the civilian contractors as a new kind of class in the demography of war. They are quasi-veterans: civilians who have experienced war much as soldiers do. There are tens of thousands of them. And while it’s hard to argue that they deserve ticker tape parades and Medals of Honor, it’s also hard to believe that they should be sent home with little more than a pay stub and a patchy health care system that doesn’t even address basic medical needs [5].

I received a letter from a former KBR contractor which crystallized the strange position of those who work in a war zone. D.A. Corson, who worked at a variety of companies in Iraq until 2008, wrote the following, which I thought worth sharing:

Civilian contactors in combat zones will likely continue to be a staple of military engagements. They cook, clean, make ice, purify water, install housing, do laundry, install and maintain generators for lighting, air conditioning, truck the beans, bullets and bandages, install latrines, wastewater treatment facilities, and as many of the other logistical functions as the military can give them to do so the troops can do their job, i.e., go out and, God willing, win the peace.

They too left their families, homes, and friends. They too labor 84-hour weeks, endure shellings, mortars, and RPG attacks, IEDS, and heat strokes. They too live on three meals a day of four different flavors of noodles or MREs when the convoys cannot get through and rations are running low. Some of them see to it that the bodies of your fallen sons, daughters, husbands, and wives are seen off from combat airfields with proper honors when no military personnel are available to do the honors themselves. They watch helplessly on Armed Forces media as our homes thousands of miles away are blown and washed away in hurricanes, floods and other disasters and wonder if their families are safe. Many die, are injured, captured and held as POWs; some have been beheaded. They too suffer high divorce rates and come home with their own cases of Combat Stress. Many serve for over a year and then came back 2 and 3 times for another year. Many are still there going on 5 and 6 years now. When they come home they have no Veteran’s benefits, indeed, no benefits at all in many instances, save perhaps a very pricey COBRA.

Yes, all go for the money. They too are doing what they think necessary for their families to get a little piece of the American Dream, but they are not all a bunch of money-grubbing, carpetbagging, war profiteers. We are your neighbors, friends, relatives, and fellow Americans. So many are there because they have to be. One young lady had just had a baby. Her husband had cancer, and she had to leave her newborn infant and other children, as well as her terribly ill husband to pay the bills and keep a roof over their head. But more than that, each wanted to serve our troops. They wanted to do their part. So many are Viet Nam veterans. They do their jobs; they serve our troops, proudly. They do it for them. They do it for freedom; they do it for our country. The American contractors all still take off their hats and get tears in their eyes when hearing the national anthem. When they go home their benefits end. Many are having to fight to get their medical insurance benefits for the injuries received and many families are fighting to get their life insurance benefits for their fallen loved ones.

They knew going in that returning to bands playing, flags waving, and such were not part of their bargain. That’s not why they went. However, in your churches and other ceremonies, when you ask your veterans to stand, after you have given them their well-deserved honors, you might want to give a thought to then asking any civilian contractors who served the troops in combat zones to stand up beside the vets too. I’ll bet they’d be proud to do so, again. Maybe there won’t be many in your particular gathering, but they are there: one for every soldier according to the Congressional Budget Reports and one dying for each 3 soldiers killed.

And by the way, you’re welcome. Maligned, appreciated, even counted or not, I am sure most would do it all again. It was an honor.

D. A. Corson
Camp Anaconda, Balad, Iraq –June 2004 through October 2006 B.I.A., Basrah, Iraq –July 2006 through May 2007 Ali Al-Saleem Air Base, Kuwait — September-October 2007

God Bless America !

November 12, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fuel convoy hit in eastern Afghanistan

KABUL — An Afghan police official says at least two private security guards have been wounded and two fuel tankers set on fire in eastern Afghanistan when militants attacked a supply convoy for NATO forces.

Provincial police spokesman Ghafor Khan says the two were injured in a battle Sunday near Jalalabad between the enemy combatants and private guards providing security for the convoy. He says other tankers were damaged along the highway, a main supply route between Pakistan and the Afghan capital of Kabul.

Original Story here

November 8, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment