Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

Archive for January, 2011

Civilian contractor contributions vital to war effort

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 31, 2011

There are no less than 14 decorations and other awards specifically intended to honor the service of contractors, subcontractors and government employees. Yet it is rare to find anyone who has benefited from such accolades. DOD awards policies governing civilian military in war zones, if any do exist, sadly lack implementation.

These new-age warriors are defending American freedoms wherever and whenever there is fighting. They are not behind the lines; there are no lines, only a 360-degree battlefield. They are America’s unsung heroes.

By Gerald T. Peil Special to the Stars and Stripes

Recently, our nation’s colors were lowered to half-staff at a tiny contractor outpost tucked away among the foothills of Afghanistan. It is a sober reminder of the grievous cost that comes with doing business here. Sadly, however, most Americans will not know of the sacrifice behind this solemn act; neither will they know of the hundreds before who have perished.

Never has American military intervention relied so heavily on the involvement of Department of Defense- and State Department-backed U.S. civilians as it does today. Lured to service out of sheer necessity, our nation has raised what is, in effect, a civilian army — one that is decisive in waging today’s wars.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, thousands of these civilian military personnel have deployed in direct support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Hundreds have paid with their lives; many hundreds more have been wounded.

Independent contractors, subcontractors and a multitude of government employees are performing countless functions critical to the success of ongoing combat operations and reconstruction projects. They are immersed in the training and equipping of Iraqi as well as Afghan security forces. They have implemented never-before-possible infrastructure and quality-of-life programs critical to the health, morale and welfare of our troops. They provide individual and collective security measures at nearly every installation in theater. Today’s civilian military personnel are as essential to the accomplishment of coalition objectives as any soldier, sailor, Marine or airman in uniform.

Populations of civilian military in war zones approach and often times surpass that of uniformed fighting forces. Nevertheless, there is little mention of their successes, bravery or casualty reporting by news agencies or political organizations. They come and go from combat theaters by the thousands virtually unnoticed. As such, expressions of gratitude are conspicuously absent. You will not see them represented during parades or at formal functions. More often than not these men and women are looked upon with suspicion, labeled as mercenaries, even demonized. …

Civilian military personnel in combat zones not only match deployment ratios of their servicemember brethren, they routinely exceed them. Not unlike their military counterparts, they are volunteers and patriots who have evolved into a form of combatant directly backing uniformed fighting forces. They are safeguarding America’s survival and economic interests — in fact, defending the Constitution of the United States “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Replicating these contributions would require the addition of a great many fully manned military organizations — a luxury our all-volunteer forces can ill-afford.

Members of the armed forces engaged in the fight to defeat terrorism will receive formal recognition upon completion of their overseas tours. In contrast, the vast majority of civilians get nothing. There are no less than 14 decorations and other awards specifically intended to honor the service of contractors, subcontractors and government employees. Yet it is rare to find anyone who has benefited from such accolades. DOD awards policies governing civilian military in war zones, if any do exist, sadly lack implementation.

The American people rallied to the heroic efforts of firefighters, police and paramedics when the towers fell and rightly so. We must now pay tribute to the legions of civilian military personnel who have reinforced the ranks of coalition forces in the global war on terror. These new-age warriors are defending American freedoms wherever and whenever there is fighting. They are not behind the lines; there are no lines, only a 360-degree battlefield. They are America’s unsung heroes.

Command Sgt. Maj. Gerald T. Peil (retired) is an independent contractor in Afghanistan.

Thank you and please read the original here

Posted in Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Department of Defense, Injured Contractors, Iraq | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Who Do I Complain to that the DBA Insurer has no Duty of Care ?

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 31, 2011

We found this question being asked quite a few times this morning.  We certainly do not have the answer.  If we did this blog would not be necessary.  The Department of Labor refuses to respond to our questions though they have a public information email address.

It is obviously not the Department of Labor or their  Administrative Law Judges.  They recommend and order that the DBA Insurer must provide medical care, is LIABLE for medical care, but they do nothing to see that it happens.

South African Injured Contractor Daniel Brink Loses Family, Loses
Home, nearly loses life due to CNA Insurance Company

They do have the ability to deny the right to sell DBA insurance to any of these companies that so recklessly delay and deny medical benefits that they have been contracted to provide.

Maybe the Department of Labor could tell us why they have not denied the privilege of selling DBA insurance to these companies who refuse to provide medical?

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Delay, Deny, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Wade Dill Casualty Counted: PTSD Suicide Defense Base Act Claim Awarded

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 30, 2011

It is difficult to consider this Justice after what KBR and here,

AIG and their attorneys and the Department of Labor

have put her and her daughter through these many years

but

Just it is

On January 21st a decision by ALJ  Steven B Berlin

Dill vs. KBR SEII and AIG

awarded

Barbara Dill

Defense Base Act Benefits for the PTSD Suicide Death of her husband

Wade Dill

upon his return from Iraq more than four years ago.

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 husbands good names

Posted in Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Attorneys, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Defense Base Act Lawyers, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, Iraq, OALJ, PTSD and TBI, T Christian Miller | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Why Thar’s Gold in Them Injured Contractor’s DBA Claims

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 29, 2011

Or So You’d Think……..

Seems like just yesterday one  Houston Attorney was bragging to the media

that he was one of only a few attorneys across the country who even handled

Defense Base Act Claims

-for better or worse-

For too many of  us here it proved to be for worse

As of late there are a rash of new websites up for Attorneys

who want to represent you in your DBA claim

In the words of one Attorney

“there is so much money, just there for the taking”

He was not referring to the claimants award

We welcome new untainted blood to the DBA Attorney gene pool

We are pleased to have more attorneys advocating for the injured contractor

when indeed that is their intention

But please do not do further harm to the injured and widowed by taking on claims

you are ill prepared or inclined to put up a tenacious and timely fight for

To those of you who know the law and will advocate for the claimant

Welcome to the Wild Wild West

but it’s no gold mine

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Attorneys, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Defense Base Act Lawyers | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Afghan Suicide Bomb targets ExPats at Kabul Grocery

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 28, 2011

The American embassy said: “Numerous innocent Afghan and international civilians were killed and wounded in this senseless act.

Afghan intelligence officials said four Filipinos and two Afghans were confirmed among the dead when a lone gunman opened fire, threw at least one grenade and then detonated his explosive harness.

Number of killed raised to nine

The powerful blast killed at least 8 people including three western women who were shopping in the store at the time and injured six.

Sayed Kabir Amiri, the Kabul hospitals chief, said five people were treated in emergency rooms and eight others admitted. At least three foreign men, he added, were among the injured.

Kabul Suicide Bomber Targets Western Diplomats

Afghan intelligence officials said four Filipinos and two Afghans were confirmed among the dead when a lone gunman opened fire, threw at least one grenade and then detonated his explosive harness.

Women and a child were among those killed.

The Taliban immediately took responsibility in a text message claiming it had targeted the chief of the Blackwater security contracting firm.

The 2.30pm (10am GMT) blast struck Finest Supermarket in the relatively secure central Wazir Akbar Khan district which is popular with embassies.

The shop is across the road from the fortified British embassy compound and is frequented by expats for its range of Western groceries. Witnesses said the shop was full of foreigners on what is the Afghan weekend.

Posted in Afghanistan, Blackwater | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

ALJ Stephen L Purcell appointed Chief Administrative Law Judge

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 27, 2011

On January 16, 2011, Stephen L. Purcell was appointed Chief Administrative Law Judge.

Judge Purcell served as the Department’s Acting Chief Judge beginning March 4, 2010, and was the Associate Chief Judge for DOL’s Longshore and Traditional programs from 2007 to 2010.

Congratulations ALJ Purcell  and  Thank you for taking the job on permanently

Posted in Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Department of Labor, OALJ | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Blackwater, we beg to differ

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 26, 2011

From Mothers:  No Justice for our Sons Slaughtered in Iraq

The company has no comment on this
pending legal matter except to say that the dismissed claims were
precluded by law under the Defense Base Act’s workers’
compensation system, and

that the company continues to provide
survivors’ benefits to the families under that system.”

Blackwater has not spent on dime on DBA insurance.  Eric Prince even testified before Congress that DBA insurance was cost reimburable to Blackwater.

If the survivors are being paid DBA benefits it is the insurance company paying them, not Blackwater.  The Insurance Company will be reimbursed any benefits they pay out plus an administrative fee by the US Taxpayer.

While we’re on taxes here, these four slaughtered sons were classified as independent contractors for tax purposes but represented as employees for the purpose of purchasing the required DBA Insurance.  Like Ronco Consulting did they simply back date and produce  new contracts when then they needed to file DBA claims?  Or did they just never get in trouble for this fraud.

Blackwater has not missed a profit aside from their legal fees which would have been better spent supporting these families.

By 2oo4 Contractors would have know what they were getting into but no one expected to be sacrificed so you could cut corners.

Posted in Blackwater, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Exclusive Remedy, Misjudgements, Political Watch | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Rufford Hobby Hobson, EOD Contractor Obituary

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 26, 2011

Farewell Good Friend

Rufford “Hobby” Hobson

Visitation will be in the J.W. Call Funeral Home Chapel at 12 noon on Saturday.

Funeral services will be 1:00 p.m. Saturday, January 29, 2011 in the J.W. Call Funeral Home Chapel.

Burial will follow in the Johnson Memorial Park at Pikeville, Ky.

Military services will be conducted at the gravesite by the Wright Patterson Airforce.

Rufford Butler “Hobby” Hobson, age 79, of Hickory Creek, Texas, passed away, December 19, 2010 in Hickory Creek, Texas.
He was born in Floyd County, Kentucky on October 9, 1931 the son of the late Edgar and Hazel Nunnery Hobson. Along with his parents, he was preceded in death by one brother, William Edgar (Billy) Hobson.
He served in the US Army and then the US Air Force where he retired a CMsgt.

He continued to serve his country in Bomb Disposal until his death.

He served in Korea and Vietnam. He loved his country.

Among his many achievements in the Air Force were, Bronze Star, Air Force Conduct Medal with Six Oakleaf Clusters, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, NCO Professional Military Education Ribbon, Army Good Conduct Medal with Three Knots, Korean Service Medal with One Star, Air Forc Longevity Service Ribbon with Six Oakleaf Clusters, National Defense Service Medal with One Star, Vietnam Service Medal with Four Bronze Stars, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palms, Republic of Vietnam Compaign Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Air Force Presidential Unit Citation, Meritorious Unit Citation, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Air Force Commendation Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with One Oakleaf Cluster, Vietnam Honor Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Master EOD Badge, Master Missile Badge.

He is survived by three daughters, Rhonda Coleman (Ronald) of Tampa, FL, Deborah Bass (Eugene) of Seffner, FL and Belinda Torres (Andres) of Seffner, FL.

Two sisters, Josephine Hall of Pikeville, KY and Gaye Hall of Banner, KY.
Seven Grandchildren, Mark Coleman, Jerry O’Neill, Dale O’Neill, Jennifer Tellez, Gene Bass, Ariel Torres and Yesenia Tores.
Ten Great-Grandchildren, Anthony Coelman, Drew O’Neill, Andrew Coleman, Dustin Coleman, Hayley Farr, Katelyn Farr, Gabriel Tellez, Kaylee O’Neill, Anneliese Tellez and Elaine Torres.
Serving as Pallbearers will, Eugene Bass, Andres Torres, Jerry O’Neill, Dale O’Neill, Gene Bass and Drew O’Neill.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory may be made to the D.A.V. Chapter of Johns Creek, 658 Rock Road, Pikeville, Ky. 41501.

Posted in Civilian Contractors | Tagged: , , , , , | 7 Comments »

IED Casualties in Afghanistan Spike though still no mention of Contractor Casualties

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 26, 2011

With more contractors in Afghanistan than Troops certainly there is a large number of unreported Civilian Contractor IED Casualties.  Despite the lack of interest in these casualties one would think at least the expense of these hidden casualties should be brought to the attention of the American Taxpayer.

The number of U.S. troops killed by roadside bombs in Afghanistan soared by 60 percent last year, while the number of those wounded almost tripled, new U.S. military statistics show.

Contractor sitting here still fighting for Medical from ACE

by Craig Whitlock at The Washington Post

All told, 268 U.S. troops were killed by the improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, in 2010, about as many as in the three previous years combined, according to the figures, obtained by The Washington Post. More than 3,360 troops were injured, an increase of 178 percent over the year before.

Military officials said an increase in attacks was expected, given the surge in U.S. and NATO troops, as well as the intensified combat. Even so, the spike comes despite a fresh wave of war-zone countermeasures, including mine-clearing machines, fertilizer-sniffing dogs and blimps with sophisticated spy cameras.

The U.S. military has struggled for years to find an antidote to the homemade explosives. IEDs – concocted primarily of fertilizer and lacking metal or electronic parts that would make them easier to detect – are the largest single cause of casualties for U.S. troops, by a wide margin.

Army Lt. Gen. Michael L. Oates, the director of a Pentagon agency dedicated to combating the bombs, noted that the percentage of IED attacks that have inflicted casualties – on U.S., NATO and Afghan forces, as well as Afghan civilians – has actually declined in recent months, from 25 percent last summer to 16 percent in December, according to U.S. military statistics.

“My main concern is driving these effective attacks down,” he said. “We’re enjoying success there, and I do believe we’re going to continue to reduce [the enemy's] effectiveness.”

Oates and other military officials have emphasized figures showing that IEDs killed fewer troops in the NATO-led coalition last year than in 2009 – a slight decline, from 447 to 430.

A further examination of those numbers, however, shows that casualty rates among U.S. troops have skyrocketed as they have taken over responsibility from European allies for fighting in southern Afghanistan, where resistance from insurgents has been most fierce. Meanwhile, casualty rates among allies have dropped.  Please read the entire story here

Posted in Afghanistan, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Delay, Deny, Department of Labor | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Hawaii man’s family will appeal dismissal of Blackwater lawsuit

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 26, 2011

The families of the decedents are now being denied the ability to present their case against Blackwater simply because they do not have hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay the private arbitrators.”

by Greg Kakesako at the Star Advertiser

The family of a Big Island man killed in a horrific ambush in Fallujah, Iraq seven years ago will appeal a federal court decision that dismissed a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the security company formerly known as Blackwater, the family’s attorney said.

Paauilo resident Wesley Batalona and three other civilian military contractors died in a March 31, 2004 ambush. Insurgents led a mob which mutilated and set fire to their bodies before dragging the charred remains through the streets and hanging two from a bridge. Images from the scene were relayed around the world, and the event triggered a massive U.S. military siege known as the Battle of Fallujah.

Marc Miles, a Southern California attorney who represents June Batalona, Wesley Batalona’s wife, told the Star-Advertiser today said the four men who were hired by Blackwater Security Consulting “have been denied their day in court.”

Last Friday,  U.S. District Judge James C. Fox entered judgment against the families of Wesley Batalona, Scott Helvenston, Jerko “Jerry” Zovko and Michael Teague, finding that court-ordered arbitration fell apart because neither side was paying the costs of that process.

“The families had lost their case against Blackwater because they were not wealthy enough,” Miles said.

In Jan, 5, 2005, Batalona’s family and relatives of the three other contractors filled a wrongful death suit.

Survivors of the contractors contend Blackwater failed to prepare the men for their mission and didn’t provide them with appropriate equipment, such as a map. The men were sent in Mitsubishi SUVs to escort a convoy of three empty trucks to pick up kitchen equipment for a food company, the lawsuit said. Their survivors argued they should have been given armored vehicles.

A congressional investigation concurred with that view, calling Blackwater an “unprepared and disorderly” organization on the day of the ambush.

Blackwater, however, argued that the men were betrayed by the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and targeted in a well-planned ambush. The company said the result of the ambush likely would have been the same even if they had stronger weapons, armored vehicles, maps or even more men.

Blackwater countersued the four families seeking $10 million arguing that the families had breached the security guards’ contracts by their wrongful death legal action.

Miles said for years, Blackwater has avoided a trial of these claims against it, through the use of at least five Washington law firms and appeals all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Miles said after losing the appeals, Blackwater forced the case into private arbitration, knowing it could afford the heavy price tag associated with litigating a case in private arbitration.

“Our clients never had the ability to pay,” Miles added, “and we made it clear from the very beginning.”

The three private arbitrators refused to continue the arbitration session because the families could not afford to pay them, Miles added.

Miles said the families petitioned the North Carolina federal court to allow them to return to the North Carolina state court in order to prosecute their case against Blackwater.

But Blackwater attorneys asked the federal court to enter a judgment in its favor and end the entire case, despite the evidence never having been presented and no trial ever having been conducted, Miles added, which a federal judge did last week.

“This is a sad day in the American legal system,” said another attorney for the four families in a written statement. Daniel J. Callahan added: “Our courts have long been a place where all citizens have equal access to justice.  The ruling here turns that principal on its head.  The families of the decedents are now being denied the ability to present their case against Blackwater simply because they do not have hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay the private arbitrators.”  Miles said the appeal should be filed with the 4th federal Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.,  within 60 days.

“We will take it to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary,”  Callahan added.

Katy Helvenston, the mother of contractor Scott Helvenston, said the families couldn’t afford the costs, and she fears the case is over.

“It’s pretty much destroyed my life,” Helvenston said. “I haven’t known one moment of joy since Scotty was slaughtered. I think the worst party is the betrayal from my country. I feel so betrayed.”

Following a 2007 shooting in Baghdad, Blackwater changed its management, name and eventually its ownership. USTC Holdings, an investment firm with ties to founder Erik Prince, acquired the company that’s now called Xe Services.. The deal includes its training facility in Moyock, N.C.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Posted in Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Exclusive Remedy, Follow the Money, Iraq, Misjudgements | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Judge tosses Blackwater deaths suit after 6 years

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 25, 2011

A congressional investigation concurred with that view, calling Blackwater an “unprepared and disorderly” organization on the day of the ambush.

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A federal judge has tossed a lawsuit that blamed the security company formerly known as Blackwater for the deaths of four contractors killed in a grisly 2004 ambush on the restive streets of Iraq.

U.S. District Judge James C. Fox said court-ordered arbitration fell apart because neither side was paying the costs of that process, so he decided to shut the case nearly seven years after the killings. Katy Helvenston, the mother of contractor Scott Helvenston, said Tuesday the families couldn’t afford the costs, and she fears the case is over. The lawsuit was filed about a year after the men’s deaths.

“It’s pretty much destroyed my life,” Helvenston said. “I haven’t known one moment of joy since Scotty was slaughtered. I think the worst party is the betrayal from my country. I feel so betrayed.”

Insurgents killed the four contractors, then mutilated the bodies, dragged the charred remains through the streets and hung two of the corpses from a bridge. Images from the scene were relayed around the world, and the event triggered a massive U.S. military siege known as the Battle of Fallujah.

Survivors of the contractors contend Blackwater failed to prepare the men for their mission and didn’t provide them with appropriate equipment, such as a map. Helvenston, Jerry Zovko, Wesley Batalona and Michael Teague were sent in Mitsubishi SUVs to guard a supply convoy. Their survivors argued they should have been given armored vehicles.

A congressional investigation concurred with that view, calling Blackwater an “unprepared and disorderly” organization on the day of the ambush.

Blackwater, however, argued that the men were betrayed by the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and targeted in a well-planned ambush. The company said the result of the ambush likely would have been the same even if they had stronger weapons, armored vehicles, maps or even more men.

Following a 2007 shooting in Baghdad, Blackwater changed its management, name and eventually its ownership. USTC Holdings, an investment firm with ties to founder Erik Prince, acquired the company that’s now called Xe Services in December. The deal includes its training facility in Moyock, N.C.

Daniel Callahan, an attorney representing the survivors, said they plan to appeal the ruling. Helvenston said she doesn’t expect success from further appeals.

An attorney for Xe didn’t immediately repond to requests seeking comment.

See Background Setback for Families Suing Blackwater

RALEIGH, N.C.  Associated Press-- A federal judge has tossed out a lawsuit that accused the security company formerly known as Blackwater of wrongful death, closing the case more than six years after four company contractors were killed in Iraq.

U.S. District Judge James C. Fox said in his decision that neither side was paying for court-ordered arbitration. The mother of one of the contractors said Tuesday the families couldn’t afford the costs and that the case appears over.

Insurgents killed the four contractors in a March 2004 ambush, then mutilated the bodies before dragging the charred remains through the streets and hanging two from a bridge.

Survivors of the men contend Blackwater failed to prepare them for the mission and didn’t provide them with appropriate equipment.

Posted in Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Exclusive Remedy, Misjudgements, Political Watch | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Congress to Investigate Pentagon Decision to Deny Coverage for Brain Injured Troops

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 24, 2011

By T Christian Miller  ProPublica and Daniel Zwerdling NPR

WASHINGTON, D.C.–A key congressional oversight committee announced [1] today that it was opening an investigation into the basis of a decision by the Pentagon’s health plan to deny a type of medical treatment to troops with brain injuries.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., the chairman of the subcommittee on contracting oversight, said she wanted to examine a contract issued by Tricare, an insurance-style program used by soldiers and many veterans, to a private company to study cognitive rehabilitation therapy for traumatic brain injury. Such injuries are considered among the signature wounds of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The study, by Pennsylvania-based ECRI Institute, found insufficient or weak evidence to support the therapy. Often lengthy and expensive, cognitive rehabilitation programs are designed to rewire soldiers’ brains to conduct basic life tasks, such as reading books, remembering information and following instructions. ECRI’s findings ran counter to several other studies, including ones sponsored by the Pentagon and the National Institutes of Health, which concluded that cognitive rehabilitation was beneficial.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, McCaskill cited an investigation [2] by ProPublica and NPR in December, which found that top scientific experts had questioned the Tricare-funded study in confidential reviews, calling it “deeply flawed” and “unacceptable.”

“If true, these reports raise significant questions regarding the Department’s award and management of the contract with ECRI Institute, and may have profound implications for hundreds of thousands of injured service members and their families,” McCaskill wrote. “We owe it to our brave service members to find the truth.”

The ProPublica and NPR investigation also found that senior Pentagon officials have worried about the high price of the care, which can cost more than $50,000 per patient. Some studies estimate that as many as 400,000 troops have suffered traumatic brain injuries in the war zones, though only a small percentage of them would need a full-scale program of cognitive rehabilitation therapy.

McCaskill joins a growing chorus demanding that Tricare reconsider its decision to deny coverage for cognitive rehabilitation. In recent weeks, the American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans’ organization, called [3] on Tricare to provide treatment. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Penn., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee with oversight of the Middle East, sent a letter [4] to Gates asking for an explanation of Tricare’s stance.

McCaskill was also one of the senators who signed a letter [5] in 2008 asking Gates to direct Tricare to begin providing cognitive rehabilitation to troops. This November, the Pentagon sent a response [6] to Congress informing them of the Tricare study’s findings. George Peach Taylor Jr., then-acting assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, said the Pentagon would continue to study the treatment, with another report expected later this year.

In strongly worded response [7] on Jan. 19, McCaskill said that the senators who signed the original letter believed that enough evidence existed on the treatment’s benefits to justify covering the cost for brain-damaged soldiers.

She asked for Gates to provide her committee with a series of documents on the contract and critical scientific reviews by Feb. 18.

“While we agreed that further research on cognitive rehabilitation therapy was appropriate, we also called on the Defense Department to err on the side of providing this proven treatment to service members,” McCaskill wrote.

ProPublica and NPR have filed a similar request under the Freedom of Information Act, but Tricare has denied access to the documents, giving contradictory explanations [8] for why. ProPublica and NPR have appealed.

Tricare officials have said their decision to deny cognitive rehabilitation is based on regulations requiring scientific proof of the efficacy and quality of treatment. They have said that the study by ECRI highlighted a lack of rigorous evidence proving the therapy’s benefits.

Tricare officials also noted that the agency does cover some types of treatment considered part of cognitive rehabilitative therapy. For instance, Tricare will pay for speech and occupational therapy, which plays a role in cognitive rehabilitation. Tricare officials deny that cost played any role in their decision. In a statement [9], Tricare said the care of troops was their “utmost” concern.

Tricare did not immediately return requests for comment on McCaskill’s investigation.

ECRI defended its study. The non-profit institute, which has carried out numerous health reviews for Tricare, other agencies and hospital and medical groups, said they applied standard protocols in reviewing scientific literature about the efficacy of cognitive rehabilitation therapy. ECRI provided a document explaining its review here [10].

“The issue of how well cognitive rehabilitation therapy works for traumatic brain injury is important,” said Jeffrey C. Lerner, the president and CEO of ECRI Institute. “ECRI Institute is fully committed to providing information to the U.S. Senate on our report and methodology.”

Posted in Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Delay, Deny, Injured Contractors, Iraq, PTSD and TBI, T Christian Miller, Veterans Affairs | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

ArmorGroup Security Contractor Danny Fitzsimons Trial

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 23, 2011

We ask again why ArmorGroup is not on trial for endangering the lives of everyone they exposed to an armed Danny Fitzsimons

Paul McGuigan and Darren Hoare are dead because of ArmorGroup’s negligence in failing to Vet a mentally ill employee with a pending weapons charge in England,  previous convictions, and known alcohol and drug problems.

And who paid the families of the dead?  The Defense Base Act Exclusive Remedy relieved ArmorGroup of responsibility despite negligence but the DBA does not pay when alcohol is involved.

Danny Fitzsimons discharged from Army with PTSD

Danny Fitzsimons:  The War Inside Your Head

“Upon arrival, he was given an M4 rifle, a pistol and a bullet-proof vest which he set down in his room before meeting with an old friend he had made during a previous tour in Iraq, where he worked with three different firms before joining ArmorGroup.

Fitzsimons and his friend, another ArmorGroup security guard who was identified only as Kevin, bought two bottles of whiskey before settling in Kevin’s trailer in Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone to chat over drinks.”

Daniel Fitzsimons denies murder of two colleagues in Iraq

British security contractor Daniel Fitzsimons tells Baghdad court he is guilty of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility

British security contractor accused of murdering two colleagues in Iraq has given his first courtroom account of the drunken night that has left him facing a possible death sentence.

Daniel Fitzsimons, a former paratrooper, told a criminal court in Baghdad today that he was not guilty of murdering Briton Paul McGuigan and Australian Darren Hoare in August 2009, but was guilty of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility, after he responded to taunts from both men.

Fitzsimons claims he was watching a DVD with a colleague from his army days, Kevin Milson, when McGuigan joined them. Fitzsimons had returned to Baghdad just over 24 hours earlier, following two previous tours with other security companies. He said he did not know McGuigan, but claimed intra-military tensions soon played out between them.

“Paul was with the marines and I was with the Parachute Regiment and as everyone knows there is rivalry between the two,” he said. “He started to insult me and insulted two friends of mine who had died in Iraq. I punched him in the nose and said ‘come on, fight me’.”

Fitzsimons’s testimony was similar to an account he gave to the Guardian in March last year. He claims to have been provoked, first in Milson’s room and then, later, in his own cabin, where he had returned to use the internet.

“I had been on the internet for an hour and then slept and then my door crashed in,” he said. “I saw Paul McGuigan and the Australian man, Darren Hoare. They kicked me in the face with their sandals. They wanted to kill me. It was shameful for a soldier.

“Paul took my M4 [assault rifle] from beside my bed and pointed it at me. He said ‘I am going to kill you’. I raised my pistol and shouted to Paul twice to put down his weapon, but he did not respond. Then I made my decision, as an old soldier, as a trained soldier, I shot him twice in the chest and a third time in his face as he fell.

“The Australian then tried to fight me for the pistol. He went for the trigger and tried to turn the pistol to my neck. He was shouting that he was going to kill me. He was much bigger than me. I pulled the trigger and put two, maybe three bullets in his chest.”

Fitzsimons had been diagnosed in Britain with post-traumatic stress disorder, but the Iraqi court is yet to decide whether that will be used in his defence. Iraqi medical experts have twice found that Fitzsimons was suffering no particular emotional disorder at the time of the killings.

The judge, Ali Yousef, questioned Fitzsimons on forensic evidence prepared for a coroner, which said powder burns were absent from Hoare’s body, not supporting Fitzsimons’s account of a close contact struggle during which fatal shots were fired from a short range.

Fitzsimons said: “I think the evidence was manipulated by the security company. The crime scene was changed.”

Salam Abdul Kareem, a lawyer for the victims’ families, urged the court to hand down the maximum sentence, which is death by hanging, or life imprisonment. “He did not stop shooting until all 14 bullets were finished,” he said.

McGuigan’s relatives and former fiancee in Britain have strongly challenged Fitzsimons’s version of events, claiming McGuigan was executed.

The case was adjourned until 20 February, when a verdict is expected.  Please see the original here

Posted in Armorgroup, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Exclusive Remedy, G4S, Iraq, Melt Down, PTSD and TBI, State Department | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Afghan bomb victim, Chris Fleming, hunts down new life

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 23, 2011

by Wally Spiers at BND.com

After his legs were damaged in an explosion in Afghanistan, Chris Fleming couldn’t have imagined a normal life, much less a hunting adventure in the wilds of New Mexico.

But in December, the former Collinsville resident found himself hiking through mountains and hills on his new legs, shooting a trophy elk courtesy of the Illinois Wild Turkey Federation.

Fleming, 28, is a 2000 Collinsville High School graduate and spent eight years in the U.S. Marines. Then he signed on as a security specialist with a private contractor and went to work in Afghanistan.

On June 25, 2009, the truck he was riding in struck an improvised explosive device. The next thing he knew, he was laying in the back of a pickup, badly bleeding. Medical workers quickly stabilized him and had him flown back to the United States in hopes of saving his remaining foot.

But it had to be amputated, and he was left to learn to walk again using artificial legs.

Fleming said he stayed in the Collinsville home of his mom, Pat Fleming, while he was getting medical treatment and new legs. He also was getting a new lease on life with support from family and friends.

“After I was injured, I was really depressed,” Chris Fleming said. “I was down and out and venting to my buddies.”

But plenty of people offered support, and he made it his mission to get better.

He has a website on http://www.caringbridge.org, (type chrisfleming in the “visit a website” space). It is packed with pictures both of the incident and of his recovery, includes pictures of his new legs and a race between him in a wheelchair and his mom and son, Hunter, on a riding lawn mower.  Please see the entire story here

Posted in Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Injured Contractors, Interviews with Injured War Zone Contractors | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Suicide rate doubles for Army National Guard

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 20, 2011

With more contractors in the war zones than military you can be sure CNA, AIG, ACE are causing plenty of civilian contractor suicides by not providing diagnoses, treatment and by pushing them over the edge with the additional stress of their delays and denials. Even once an order is in place that the insurance company must provide treatment they still do not do it.

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

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, PTSD and TBI, Racketeering | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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