Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

CTE, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy due to failure to diagnose and treat Traumatic Brain Injury

“But we may be able to learn that early treatment of the initial acute [brain] injury may avoid this cascade from brain injury to CTE.”

As a civilian contractor you will be denied early treatment by the defense base act insurance company. 

David Woods The Huffington Post  September 20, 2012

WASHINGTON — Almost a quarter million American troops diagnosed with traumatic brain injury are at risk of developing a degenerative disease that causes bursts of anger and depression and can lead to memory loss, difficulty walking and speaking, paranoia and suicide, according to military researchers.

At present, medical officials cannot diagnose or prevent the disease, called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, and there is no known treatment for it, said Army Col. Dallas Hack, director of the Army’s Combat Casualty Care Research Program.

But researchers are hot on the trail of new procedures to detect and diagnose the disease, and there is hope that early detection of brain injury among troops exposed to blasts from improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan could prevent them from falling victim to CTE.

“We don’t fully understand the incidence of CTE with the occurrence of traumatic brain injury,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Randall McCafferty, chief of neurosurgery at the San Antonio Military Medical Center. “But we may be able to learn that early treatment of the initial acute [brain] injury may avoid this cascade from brain injury to CTE.”

Please read the entire post here

September 21, 2012 Posted by | AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Defense Base Act, Traumatic Brain Injury | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Schofield soldier admits guilt in slaying of contractor in Iraq

William Cole at The Star Advertiser

Garciapagan said Velez started acting strangely several days before the shooting, thinking there were wanted posters with his face and name around the base.

A Schofield Barracks soldier pleaded guilty this week in military court to murdering a civilian contractor in Iraq and was sentenced to 26 years in prison, officials said yesterday.

Spc. Beyshee O. Velez, 32, a medic and three-time Iraq war veteran, was days away from leaving the country when he shot contractor Lucas “Trent” Vinson on Sept. 13, 2009, at Contingency Operating Base Speicher in northern Iraq.

Vinson, 27, worked for the Houston-based company KBR at COB Speicher with his father, Myron “Bugsy” Vinson, and an uncle. KBR provided troops with services such as housing, meals, mail delivery and laundry.

As part of a plea deal, Velez, of Cleveland, was found guilty of the murder of Vinson “by recklessly pointing his loaded M-4 carbine at Mr. Vinson, who died when the weapon discharged,” the 25th Infantry Division said.

The agreement required a sentence not in excess of 28 years in prison, officials said.

Velez, who was with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, also was found guilty of assaulting three other contractors by pointing a loaded weapon at them, and of fleeing apprehension by authorities, the Army said.

Officials said the shooting occurred in a sport utility vehicle on base. Witnesses at a previous hearing testified that Velez then forced a driver out of a 15-passenger van that belonged to KBR and drove erratically at high speed around the sprawling base before getting stuck in a ditch.

The presiding military judge, Lt. Col. Kwasi L. Hawks, also sentenced Velez to a reduction to the lowest enlisted grade, total forfeitures of pay and a dishonorable discharge, the Army said in a news release.

The Army said Velez is confined at the Naval Brig at Ford Island but will be turned over to the Army Corrections Command. A trial was held Tuesday and Wednesday at Wheeler Army Airfield, with sentencing Wednesday, the Army said.

Velez’s civilian attorney, Philip D. Cave, said in February 2010 that an Army mental fitness board found the soldier likely experienced a “short psychotic episode.”

However, an Army mental health board found Velez fit to stand trial, officials previously said.

The shooting occurred at about 8:30 a.m., and a standoff with Velez lasted until about 8 p.m. as he blared the radio, chain-smoked cigarettes and put his M-4 rifle to his head in the van, witnesses and Army officials said.

Col. Thomas Wheatley, a chaplain who was at the scene, had said his gut feeling was that Velez was going to kill himself.

“He said, ‘I’m a medic, I know how to do it,'” Wheatley had testified.

A friend of Velez, Spc. Leo­nel Gar­cia­pa­gan, talked to Velez and was finally able to remove the soldier’s rifle. Gar­cia­pa­gan testified in February that Velez was confused and was not aware of the shooting.

“He wasn’t aware of nothing,” Gar­cia­pa­gan said. “When he talked to me, I figured out his mind wasn’t right.”

Garciapagan said Velez started acting strangely several days before the shooting, thinking there were wanted posters with his face and name around the base.

April 15, 2011 Posted by | Contractor Casualties, Iraq | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Suicide rate doubles for Army National Guard

There are more Contractors in the War Zones than military and far less support, diagnoses, and treatment of mental health problems.

Washington (CNN) The U.S. Army announced Wednesday that the number of suicides rose again last year to almost one a day, despite major efforts to identify and help at-risk soldiers.

Suicides among active-duty soldiers actually declined for the first time in six years but the numbers increased among other soldiers, doubling in the Army National Guard.

The overall number of suicides for the 2010 calendar year was 343 — an increase of 69 over the previous year — and included self-inflicted deaths among active-duty soldiers, the National Guard, the Army Reserves, civilian employees of the Army and family members. The Army reported 156 active-duty suicides last year and 112 in the National Guard.

“The bottom line is this is a significant issue and clearly there is much to be done,” Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli said in a Pentagon briefing.

While active-duty and deployed soldiers are under constant observation and supervision, soldiers serving in the Reserves or National Guard who are not deployed may be off the Army radar for weeks at a time.

“The reality is we are able to more effectively influence those soldiers serving on active duty and help mitigate the stressors affecting them. Conversely it is much more difficult to do so with individuals not serving on active duty.” Chiarelli said. “They are often geographically separated, removed from the support network provided by the military installations. They lack the ready camaraderie of fellow soldiers and daily oversight and hands on assistance from members of the chain of command.”

For the National Guard, reasons for the suicides remain unclear and are not necessarily related to the stresses of war-fighting or finding work in a bad economy.

“It’s not a deployment problem because over 50% of the people that committed suicide in the National Guard in 2010 had never deployed,” Maj. Gen. Raymond Carpenter, acting director of Army National Guard, said Wednesday. “It is not a problem of employment because only about 15% of the people who committed suicide were in fact without a job.”

Carpenter said the solider suicide rate maybe a reflection of the problem for society as a whole, with Army suicides part of a national trend. Army suicides are less than one percent of national total, based on latest national suicide-rate numbers, which are from 2007, according to Chiarelli. Problems with relationships, substance abuse, the stresses of multiple deployments to the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan and other factors may all contribute.

“As we do the analysis, it is not a single thing. It is a combination of a group of things that come together,” Carpenter said.

Chiarelli said a tour in the U.S. Army puts a young American under as much stress in six years as civilians may experience in a lifetime. “I’m frustrated at every single suicide, every one is briefed to me, I receive reports in 36 hours on each one them,” he said. “I see the similarities; I see the differences.”

But he predicts new treatment and mental health evaluation programs and new awareness among military leaders will turn the trend around.

“I hope you are going to see these numbers go down significantly in the coming year,” Chiarelli said.  Please see the original here

January 20, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury | , , , , | Leave a comment

Staff Sgt. David Senft Deployed despite two suicide attempts-Military attempts cover up of suicide

David Senft Memorial Information here

“Why did they deploy him, and why did they leave him there in the first place?”

Several Warnings, Then a Soldier’s Lonely Death

by James Risen at The New York Times

Evidence suggests that Sargeant Senft committed suicide.

WASHINGTON — A gentle snow fell on the funeral of Staff Sgt. David Senft at Arlington National Cemetery on Dec. 16, when his bitterly divided California family came together to say goodbye. His 5-year-old son received a flag from a grateful nation

But that brief moment of peace could not hide the fact that for his family and friends and the soldiers who had served with him in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, too many unanswered questions remained about Sergeant Senft’s lonely death in a parked sport utility vehicle on an American air base in Afghanistan, and about whether the Army could have done more to prevent it.

Officially, the Army says only that Sergeant Senft, 27, a crew chief on a Black Hawk helicopter in the 101st Airborne Division’s aviation brigade, was killed as a result of “injuries sustained in a noncombat related incident” at Kandahar Air Base on Nov. 15. No specific cause of death has been announced. Army officials say three separate inquiries into the death are under way.

But his father, also named David Senft, an electrician from Grass Valley, Calif., who had worked in Afghanistan for a military contractor, is convinced that his son committed suicide, as are many of his friends and family members and the soldiers who served with him.

The evidence appears overwhelming. An investigator for the Army’s Criminal Investigative Division, which has been looking into the death, has told Sergeant Senft’s father by e-mail that his son was found dead with a single bullet hole in his head, a stolen M-4 automatic weapon in his hands and his body slumped over in the S.U.V., which was parked outside the air base’s ammunition supply point. By his side was his cellphone, displaying a text message with no time or date stamp, saying only, “I don’t know what to say, I’m sorry.” (Mr. Senft shared the e-mails from the C.I.D. investigator with The New York Times.)

With Sergeant Senft, the warning signs were blaring.

The Army declared him fit for duty and ordered him to Afghanistan after he had twice attempted suicide at Fort Campbell, Ky., and after he had been sent to a mental institution near the base, the home of the 101st. After his arrival at Kandahar early in 2010 he was so troubled that the Army took away his weapon and forced him into counseling on the air base, according to the e-mails from the Army investigator. But he was assigned a roommate who was fully armed. C.I.D. investigators have identified the M-4 with which Sergeant Senft was killed as belonging to his roommate.

“I question why, if he was suicidal and they had to take away his gun, why was he allowed to stay in Afghanistan?” asked Sergeant Senft’s father. “Why did they allow him to deploy in the first place, and why did they leave him there?”  Please read the entire story here

January 2, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Department of Defense, Pentagon, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Safety and Security Issues | , , , | Leave a comment