Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

VA creates new registry for soldiers exposed to hexavalent chromium in Iraq

By Julie Sullivan at The Oregonian

The Department of Veterans Affairs is launching a Qarmat Ali registry to aggressively track and treat veterans exposed to a cancer-causing chemical in Iraq in 2003.

The national surveillance program will register hundreds of National Guard members who served at the Qarmat Ali water- treatment plant, looking for health problems associated with hexavalent chromium exposure, such as asthma and lung cancer.

The monitoring is a victory for nearly 300 Oregon Army National Guard members and for Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. Wyden proposed such a registry March 22 after veterans with breathing and skin problems told him in an emotional meeting in Portland that VA staff did not understand the hazards of their assignment.

“This is a concrete step forward,” Wyden said. “But it is only a step.” He wants the VA to go further and presume a service connection that will increase access and benefits.

The program is more a medical monitoring program than a confirmation of health problems. The VA does not presume a veteran who served at Qarmat Ali is ill — nor that any specific diseases are linked to serving there.

But the Qarmat Ali Medical Surveillance program will standardize medical exams nationwide, focusing doctors’ attention on lung cancer and other related problems and help direct treatment. Among the steps: ear, nose, throat, lung and skin exams as well as regular chest X-rays, said Dr. Victoria Cassano, director of radiation and physical exposure for the VA’s Office of Public Health and Environmental HazardsRead the entire story here

July 23, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, KBR, Pentagon, Toxic | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

VA Official at Claims Summit: VA’s Disability Claim System “Cannot be Fixed”

The Overburdened VA Health System that one  DBA lawyer suggested to Congress that injured Civilian Contractors  should be allowed to go to rather than making the DBA insurance companies pay for the benefits they have taken premiums for.

At Veterans for Common Sense

March 18, 2010, Washington, DC (Federal Times) – Bailing wire and bandages cannot save the veterans’ disability claims process, the Veterans Affairs Department’s chief technology officer said Thursday at a roundtable discussion about ways of cutting the growing backlog of claims and improving accuracy.

“In my judgment, it cannot be fixed,” said Peter Levin. “We need to build a new system, and that is exactly what we are going to do.”

Levin’s comments came at a meeting organized by the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee to toss around ideas for repairing a system that has a backlog of about 1.1 million claims awaiting decisions and an error rate on claims of 17 to 25 percent, depending on who is counting.

Rep. Bob Filner, D-Va., the veterans’ committee chairman, described the system as an “insult to veterans” who, on average, wait six months for an initial decision on benefits and who can wait for years if the decision is appealed.

“It looks like we are going backwards rather than forward,” Filner said. “No matter how much we raise the budget, no matter how many people we hire, the backlog seems to get bigger.”

“People die before their claim is adjudicated. They lose their home. Those lost their car,” Filner said.

March 23, 2010 Posted by | AIG and CNA, Defense Base Act, Veterans | , , , , , | 1 Comment