What is not known is the impact among those who work in the armed private security sector
“There’s loads of loose cannons running around”
BBC Scotland October 1, 2012
Former SAS soldier Bob Paxman – who served in Iraq as well as other hostile environments – is one of a growing number of former servicemen who say they have suffered with the mental health condition Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
After a number of years in the military, Paxman retrained as a private security contractor, on protection contracts in Africa and Iraq.
He says as a result of being constantly in a dangerous environment and witnessing colleagues being killed and maimed he was diagnosed with PTSD.
The stress disorder is thought to affect up to 20% of military personnel who have served in conflict zones, according to research published by the National Center for PTSD in the US.
What is not known is the impact among those who work in the armed private security sector, many of whom are drawn from the military.
Yet the condition, says Paxman, led to him having flashbacks and becoming violent and paranoid.
“I was a danger to the public, a danger to myself,” Paxman says.
“A danger to whoever was perceived as being the enemy.”
Will ArmorGroup, AGNA, G4S, finally be held accountable for the deaths of Paul McGuigan and Darren Hoare??
The programme-makers heard stories of contractors being forced to work on dangerous missions with inadequate equipment, incident reports sanitised to protect company reputations and numerous deaths of former soldiers.
One security contractor, Bob Shepherd, said: “We know when a soldier dies it’s all over the newspapers, it’s on the TV. But we never know when security contractors die.
“For the companies it’s bad for business, for the government it’s hiding the true cost of these conflicts.
“If the British taxpayers knew the total numbers of people that have died on behalf of British security companies in places like Iraq and Afghanistan they would be shocked.”
BBC News Oct 1, 2012
Security firm G4S was sent warnings not to employ an armed guard in Iraq just days before he murdered two colleagues, a BBC investigation has found.
Private security guard Paul McGuigan, from the Scottish Borders, was shot dead by Danny Fitzsimons in 2009 in Baghdad while on a protection contract.
Another man, Australian Darren Hoare, was also killed.
All were working for UK contractor G4S, which was operating under the name ArmorGroup in the region.
In a BBC documentary, it is revealed that a G4S worker sent a series of emails to the company in London, warning them about Fitzsimons’s previous convictions and unstable behaviour.
The anonymous whistleblower signed one email “a concerned member of the public and father”.
The worker warned G4S: “I am alarmed that he will shortly be allowed to handle a weapon and be exposed to members of the public.
“I am speaking out because I feel that people should not be put at risk.”
Another email, sent as Fitzsimons was due to start work in Baghdad, said: “Having made you aware of the issues regarding the violent criminal Danny Fitzsimons, it has been noted that you have not taken my advice and still choose to employ him in a position of trust.
“I have told you that he remains a threat and you have done nothing.”
Within 36 hours of arriving in Iraq in August 2009, Fitzsimons – a former paratrooper – had shot and killed the two men after what he claimed was a drunken brawl.
An Iraqi colleague was also wounded as Fitzsimons tried to flee the scene.
Fitzsimons had worked as a private security contractor before in Iraq, but he had been sacked for punching a client.
At the time he was taken on by G4S, Fitzsimons also had a criminal record, was facing outstanding charges of assault and a firearms offence, and had been diagnosed by doctors as having PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
In the documentary, the parents of Paul McGuigan call for the company to face criminal charges over the killing.
His mother Corinne Boyd-Russell, from Innerleithen in the Borders, said: “[Fitzsimons] fired the bullets. But the gun was put in his hand by G4S ArmorGroup. They put the gun in that man’s hand.
“I want G4S to be charged with corporate manslaughter and be held accountable for what they did.”
The parents of Danny Fitzsimons, who is serving 20 years in a Baghdad prison after being sentenced for the murders in February 2011, were also shocked to hear about the existence of the emails.
Liz Fitzsimons, from Manchester, said: “And they still took him out there? They [G4S] need to be taken to task for that.
“The people who we feel are responsible, who we hold responsible for putting that gun in Danny’s hand, are without a shadow of a doubt G4S.”
A G4S spokesman admitted that its screening of Danny Fitzsimons “was not completed in line with the company’s procedures”.
It said vetting had been tightened since the incident.
Regarding the email warnings, the spokesman G4S told the BBC it was aware of the allegations but that an internal investigation showed “no such emails were received by any member of our HR department”.
He did not say whether anyone else in the company had seen them.
An inquest into the death of Paul McGuigan, a former Royal Marine, is due to begin in December.
The revelations in the Fitzsimons case come just weeks after G4S found itself at the centre of a crisis over its inability to meet its commitment to recruit security staff for the Olympics in London.
It is the biggest security company in the world in an industry that is worth about £400bn globally
WARNINGS ABOUT KILLER OF SCOT WENT UNHEEDED October 1, 2012
CONTROVERSIAL security firm G4S ignored warnings not to employ an armed guard in Iraq who went on to murder two of his colleagues, it has been claimed.
It emerged that a whistleblower sent two e-mails to the London-based company, which operates as Armorgroup in Iraq, expressing concerns that Fitzsimons’ unstable behaviour made him unsuitable to be handling weapons in a war zone.
The parents of Fitzsimons were also shocked to hear about the existence of the e-mails.
Mother Liz Fitzsimons, from Manchester, said: “The people who we feel are responsible, who we hold responsible for putting that gun in Danny’s hand, are without a shadow of a doubt G4S.”
The news comes just months after the UK Government was forced to call in 1,200 troops to police the Olympic Games venues after G4S failed to provide enough staff.
The firm recently won a £20million contract to manage the electronic tagging of Scottish offenders.
A spokesman for G4S said: “Although there was evidence that Mr Fitzsimons falsified and apparently withheld material information during the recruitment process, his screening was not completed in line with the company’s procedures.
“Our screening processes should have been better implemented in this situation, but it is a matter of speculation what, if any, role this may have played in the incident.”
After many years of surviving an extremely abusive Overly Zealous Defense
These benefits were recently taken away by the Benefits Review Board when Attorney Bruce Nicholson, who was actively pursuing a settlement with KBR/AIG’s Attorney Michael Thomas, had a contract with the widow, was the attorney of record with the BRB, did not as much as respond to the Appeal.
While Bruce Nicholson is the one who apparently purposely abandoned the claim, Michael Thomas and the BRB were more than happy to carry on without notifying the widow that AIG’s appeal of her claim was unopposed.
Our thoughts are with you today Barb
The Shooter- Ricky Elder, Ranger- PTSD
Stars and Stripes July 15, 2012
In October 2006, Elder deployed to Iraq. Nine months later, medical records show, he was working as a gunner on a Humvee when it was hit by a roadside bomb. The explosion threw Elder out of the turret, causing him to lose consciousness momentarily. His buddy died in the blast.
According to medical documents, the doctors who examined the then 22-year-old Elder shortly after the blast found that he suffered from post-concussion amnesia, as well as “irritability, dizziness, visual disturbance and ringing in his ears.”
Afterward, at Elder’s request, he was allowed to go to the morgue to see the body of his friend who had died.
“Patient crying heavily. Heard saying in heavy tears, ‘I don’t want to live anymore,’ ” a doctor wrote in a narrative summary.
After he was returned to his room, the summary says, Elder became “instantly agitated after crying on bed” and struck a bulletproof window so hard that it shattered the glass.
Updated 6 pm
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WTVD) — One soldier from the 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade is dead and two others are wounded following a shooting incident June 28, 2012.
During a unit safety brief a Soldier shot another member of the unit and then turned the weapon on himself. The shooter was injured and is in custody. A third Soldier who was in the area was also slightly wounded in the shooting.
“This is a tragedy for our community. We don’t yet know the reasons for the shooting, but are working with the unit and the affected Families to help them through this difficult period,” said Col. Kevin Arata, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg Public Affairs Officer.
ABC News June 28, 2012
FORT BRAGG, NC (WTVD) — Fort Bragg law enforcement said it is responding to a shooting incident on-post that occurred at about 3:30 p.m.
Officials urged drivers and pedestrians to avoid the historic district of Fort Bragg until further notice.
The historic district is an area near Knox Street close to the 18th Airborne Headquarters and FORSCOM near the heart of Fort Bragg.
Officials did not immediately release more information. Sources told ABC11 that an officer was shot during a formation. The officer’s condition was not known.
The Defense Base Act Insurance Companies and the Department of Labor are as negligent as the Department of Defense when it comes denying the dangers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury, and most negligently when a contractor suffers from both.
“a potentially lethal combination of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. When the frontal lobe — which controls emotions — is damaged, it simply can’t put on the brakes if a PTSD flashback unleashes powerful feelings. Seeing his buddy’s leg blown off may have unleashed a PTSD episode his damaged brain couldn’t stop”
These vets suffer from a particular kind of brain damage that results from repeated exposure to the concussive force of improvised explosive devices — I.E.D.’s — a regular event for troops traveling the roads in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“It’s Russian roulette,” one vet told me, “We had one guy in our company who got hit nine times before the 10th one waxed him.” An I.E.D. explosion can mean death or at least a lost arm or leg, but you don’t have to take a direct hit to feel its effects. A veteran who’d been in 26 blasts explained, “It feels like you’re whacked in the head with a shovel. When you come to, you don’t know whether you’re dead or alive.”
The news that Robert Bales, an Army staff sergeant accused of having killed 16 Afghan civilians last week, had suffered a traumatic brain injury unleashed a flurry of e-mails among those of us who have been trying to beat the drums about this widespread — and often undiagnosed — war injury. New facts about Staff Sgt. Bales are coming out daily. After we heard about the brain injury that resulted when his vehicle rolled over in an I.E.D. blast, we were told that he had lost part of his foot in a separate incident. Then we learned that the day before his rampage, he’d been standing by a buddy when that man’s leg was blown off. There are also reports of alcohol use.
People with more appropriate professional skills than mine will have to parse these facts, but from what I have learned in my work as a storyteller, this tragedy may be related to something I heard about in my interviews: a potentially lethal combination of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. When the frontal lobe — which controls emotions — is damaged, it simply can’t put on the brakes if a PTSD flashback unleashes powerful feelings. Seeing his buddy’s leg blown off may have unleashed a PTSD episode his damaged brain couldn’t stop. If alcohol was indeed part of the picture, it could have further undermined his compromised frontal lobe function
WRAL.com December 13, 2011
Deputies responded to 115 Patolly Place after receiving a 911 call late Saturday and found two people dead inside from gunshot wounds, Peterkin said.
Investigators determined that Seth Andrews, 24, killed Hillary Morgan Andrews and then committed suicide.
According to information that Fort Bragg provided to investigators, Seth Andrews returned from a one-year deployment to Afghanistan between Nov. 26 and Nov. 29.
The case remains under investigation
Before putting a bullet through his head, Westhusing had been deeply disturbed by abuses carried out by American contractors in Iraq, including allegations that they had witnessed or even participated in the murder of Iraqis.
The scourge of suicides among American troops and reservists in Iraq and Afghanistan remains a serious and seriously underreported problem.
Last month they hit a new high in the US Army, despite intensive new efforts to prevent them. One of the few high-profile cases emerged six years ago this month, and it involves a much-admired Army colonel and ethicist named Ted Westhusing — who, in his suicide note, pointed a finger at a then little-known U.S. general named David Petraeus.
Westhusing’s widow, asked by a friend what killed this West Point scholar, replied simply: “Iraq.”
‘Something he saw [in Iraq] drove him to this,’ one Army officer who was close to Westhusing said in an interview. ‘The sum of what he saw going on drove him’ to take his own life.
‘It’s because he believed in duty, honor, country that he’s dead.’”
Army Times May 25, 2011
The Veterans Affairs Department’s Veterans Crisis Line received 14,000 calls in April, the highest monthly volume ever recorded for the four-year-old suicide prevention program.
“Every day last month, more than 400 calls were received,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee chairwoman who disclosed the call volume during a Wednesday hearing. “While it is heartening to know that these calls for help are being answered, it is a sad sign of desperation and difficulties our veterans face that there are so many in need of a lifeline.”
The hotline, established in 2007, is a suicide prevention and crisis counseling program available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The number is 800-273-8255.
Antonette Zeiss, VA’s chief mental health officer, said that since the 2007 launch, the call center has received more than 400,000 calls, referred 55,000 veterans to local suicide prevention coordinators for same-day or next-day help and initiated 15,000 “rescues” of callers near suicide.
It is with sorrow that knows no bounds this evening
that we must announce that
the contractor community has lost two more lives
only five days apart
They were both former DynCorp employees covered by CNA under the Defense Base Act
Two families, which both include children, left with the horror and guilt that suicide leaves in it’s wake
Out of respect for these grieving families and friends
we are withholding details until a more suitable time
Please keep these families in your hearts and prayers
May our departed friends find the peace they were deprived of here
To those of you suffering from PTSD, to those friends of these contractors suffering from PTSD, please do not wait for for your employer or the insurance company to fulfill their obligations.
Both of these deaths could easily have been prevented by proper screening and prompt treatment.
Please, everyone, PTSD Kills
People with PTSD can have “heightened levels of physiological arousal,” such as elevated heart rates even though they are not in real danger, Baldwin said.
“Because they feel unsafe, they’re more likely to be triggered into a defense state that might get them out of a traumatic experience that isn’t really happening,” he said.
“During this type of event, you think that your life or others’ lives are in danger,” Baldwin said. “You may feel afraid or feel that you have no control over what is happening.”
Danny Fitzsimons avoids death penalty and lawyers press for reduced sentence to be served in UK
Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve’s director, said: “If G4S had done the proper checks and risk assessments when Danny applied to work with them, they would have quickly seen that he was suffering from serious PTSD, a consequence of loyally serving his country.
A British former soldier has been jailed for 20 years by the supreme court of Iraq for the murder of two fellow security contractors, becoming the first westerner to be convicted in the country since the 2003 invasion.
The family of 31-year-old Danny Fitzsimons expressed relief that he had escaped the death penalty and asked Iraqi authorities and the UK government to ensure his safety in prison. Defence lawyers indicated they would try to get the term reduced.
Before his conviction and sentencing in a hearing lasting less than 30 minutes, there had been talks over whether he could be transferred to a British prison. Fitzsimons’s family and campaigners fear for his safety if he is moved outside Baghdad’s Green Zone to the city’s Rusafa prison.
Fitzsimons, from Middleton, Manchester, was accused of shooting fellow Briton Paul McGuigan and Australian Darren Hoare in Baghdad, colleagues with the UK security firm ArmorGroup, part of G4S, after an argument in the Green Zone in August 2009. He was also accused of wounding an Iraqi guard while fleeing. The incident happened within 36 hours of his arrival in the city. He had worked in the country before.
Fitzsimons admitted shooting the men but claimed it was in self-defence. The colleagues had been out drinking and the other two tried to kill him during an altercation, he said. Fitzsimons claimed to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
As he was led from the courtroom by Iraqi guards, he told reporters he was happy with the sentence. Asked whether he thought the trial had been fair, he said: “No.”
In an interview before the sentence, he told the Independent he had been treated “like a dog” in court.
Fitzsimons’s family and his British lawyer, John Tripple, who attended a court session last week, were not present at the hearing. His Iraqi lawyer, Tariq Harb, said: “This is a very good sentence. I saved him from the gallows.”
He told the Guardian he would appeal within 30 days. “I expect the sentence can be lightened to 15 years. The Iraqi law is independent and it is very fair.” Please read the entire story here
AUSTRALIAN families, friends and communities have buried 23 soldiers killed in Afghanistan since 2002. The Courier Mail Sunday Mail Australia
But there is an even sadder and often silent statistic that is forgotten – the number of soldiers, sailors and airmen and women who have ended their lives for reasons that don’t command a full military funeral or public acknowledgement by politicians.
New Defence figures show that 31 enlisted Defence personnel have, or are believed to have, committed suicide since 2005.
Of those, 10 were in Queensland the highest among the states, with seven suspected suicide cases in NSW and six in the ACT.
The suspected suicide deaths of two other Queensland soldiers earlier this year are also being investigated by the coroner but are not included in the figures at this stage.
“Look at Vietnam. The number killed was far outweighed by the number who took their own life in the years after their service,” Mr Jarratt said.
“We call it the invisible wounds of war, people dying not in combat but as a result of combat, years later.”
Judge hearing trial of Daniel Fitzsimons orders clarification of post-traumatic stress disorder
Sentencing of Daniel Fitzsimons, a British security contractor accused of murdering two colleagues in Baghdad has been adjourned until 28 February after a late intervention from his UK-based lawyer.
Judge Ali Yousef in Baghdad’s serious crimes court ordered further clarification of the term post-traumatic stress disorder, which is not recognised by Iraqi law but has been heavily relied on as a defence by Fitzsimons.
Fitzsimons has pleaded not guilty to murder but admitted manslaughter with diminished responsibility, claiming he acted in self defence.
He is accused of shooting dead two fellow ArmorGroup security contractors, Paul McGuigan, a Briton, and Darren Hoare, an Australian, at a base inside Baghdad’s Green Zone in August 2009.
If convicted, he could face a death sentence.
John Tipple, for Fitzsimons, said he would push for a prisoner transfer agreement with the Iraqi government which would allow his client to serve any sentence in the UK. Please see the original here
Although U.S. military policy does not officially allow women in combat, many who served in Iraq and Afghanistan experienced battlefield conditions.
Bullets and bombs don’t differentiate between men and women, experts say.
Women in combat are just as vulnerable to PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) as men,” explained psychologist Judith Emerson, associate chief of staff for mental health at the Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics in White City. “PTSD is an anxiety disorder, but it is one of the more treatable disorders.”
Female veterans can experience depression, anxiety and PTSD symptoms, leading to substance abuse and even suicide.
Emerson said a study published in December by the American Psychiatric Association reported 112 veteran suicides in Oregon between 2000 and 2005. Of those, four were women.
“Women come back with different role expectations,” said Emerson, who teaches classes on PTSD. “And people may be less understanding what they are going through.” Please read the entire story here
have put her and her daughter through these many years
Just it is
On January 21st a decision by ALJ Steven B Berlin awarded
Defense Base Act Benefits for the PTSD Suicide Death of her husband
We have the decision and will update with more details, surely there is more to come
as well as thanks to the many people who helped shed light on the truth, but for now
Barbara and Sara may you rest a bit easier knowing that
a belated Justice has been bestowed upon
yours and your husband and fathers’ good names