Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

Sometimes It’s Not Your War, But You Sacrifice Anyway

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 14, 2009

T. Christian Miller has been investigating and reporting on contractor issues for the LA Times and ProPublica.  The following is a heartfelt commentary on the plight of the injured war zone worker both domestic and foreign.
The exploitation and abandonment of these foreign workers at the hands of our corporate war profiteers, that includes you CNA and AIG,  needs to remain a prominent issue in our battle with the DBA here in the States.
Thank you T for your huge efforts and the credibility you bring to our cause.
By T. Christian Miller
Sunday, August 16, 2009

Washington Post Opinions

To outsource the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States has turned to the cheapest labor possible. About two-thirds of the 200,000 civilians working under federal contracts in the war zones are foreigners. Many come from poor, Third World countries. Others are local hires.

These low-paid foreign workers face many of the same risks soldiers do. Mortars have killed Filipinos who served meals in mess halls. Assassins have targeted Iraqis translating for soldiers. Roadside bombs have ripped into trucks driven by Turkish nationals. These workers have been wounded like soldiers. They have died like soldiers.

The United States has a system to provide care for such civilian casualties. Developed in the 1940s, it is an obscure type of workers’ compensation insurance, funded by taxpayers and overseen by the Labor Department. Mandated by a law called the Defense Base Act, the system requires almost every federal contractor working abroad to purchase insurance to cover injuries arising from work or war, for all employees, American or foreign.

American civilian workers have had trouble enough getting payment for their injuries. AIG, the primary provider of such insurance, has battled them over everything from prosthetic legs to treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, according to court records and interviews. But at least the Americans have a fighting chance.

For foreign workers, the system has not even come close to delivering on its promises. In Nepal, I spoke with a family in a remote valley of tumbling rivers and jewel-green rice fields. After neighbors heard news reports over the radio, the family watched an Internet video that showed that their son had been executed in a dusty ditch in western Iraq on his way to work at a base for U.S. soldiers. Neither the company nor the United States had made any effort to contact them. The elderly couple, who had relied upon their son’s salary, wondered how they would survive.


Nearly 1,600 civilian workers have died in Iraq, and more than 35,000 have reported injuries. Since 2001, Congress has held scores of hearings for injured veterans, but only two for injured contractors. The Government Accountability Office has published more than 100 studies on veterans’ benefits since March 2003. It has done two on the Defense Base Act.

Nor, with a few exceptions, have the contract firms stepped forward for their employees. No company leads a charge to fix the system. Notably silent is Washington Group International, a major contractor in Iraq. The company, which has reported 19 deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, was once known as Morrison Knudsen. Now part of URS Corp., the company declined to answer questions about contractor deaths.   Full Story here

This story at Propublica

3 Responses to “Sometimes It’s Not Your War, But You Sacrifice Anyway”

  1. C.V. Compton Shaw said

    We often used local residents as part time workers in the field in Vietnam. These were all men and/or young males as this was informal hiring by Infantry in the field in Vietnam. We used them to help build bunkers and other jobs.We got to know and fraternize with the same, treated them fairly, and gave them food while on the job. The same helped immensely in winning the “hearts and minds” of the locals. It is important to treat local workers in a kind, friendly, and equitable manner such as to win the “hearts and minds” of the local indigenous population. I served with the U.S. Army; 4th ID, 2/8th Inf.; Republica of Vietnam 1969-1970

  2. Marlo Hone said

    As many of you know my husband has fought tooth and Nail with CNA. They love to just drag their feet an play the waiting game. The best is the cruelness on our families. After 4 years of fighting with them and being so worn down.
    Down to our last dollar, saving gone, no car, no food, no health insurance, living in a substandard home and trying to explain this to our 3 children. We sold out and settled for less the half of what his case is worth.
    Yes I call us sell outs right now. I fight for the contractors everyday. All of you. I honestly feel that the insurance companies need to be accountable for making us settle for pennies. Not enough to live on. Just enough to get our lifes back on track then wonder how we are going to survive for the next 40 years. They cut our pay, then watch us struggle until they know we just can’t stuggle anymore. Waiting for the Dept. of Labor to get off their rears and help us get the right pay. Making sure that our medical is paid for. Or how about making these insurance companies settle with the ones that want to settle. And making sure they are not in total distress and getting pennies for their injuries.
    I have been very passive the last month that is only because we were afraid if I were to start speaking out again they would not settle and back out. I think they thought if they settled with my husband it would make me go away.

    HEY CNA GUESS AGAIN…… The pain that my family has been gone through will not be in vein. I will put our story out there and put my name to it. I will make sure that they all know what dishonest, thieves and unmoral people you are.

    Just remember Karma is a BITCH and she will catch up to each of you. I am going to make sure of it. With settling with for the crap that you gave him. The lies that you told him and the bullshit that you fed us and others all you did was make sure I have a bigger office, better computer and more room to get our story out. Don’t forget more time. For that I say thank you. But don’t think I am going away I have only started. 🙂

    This is being typed from the road to our new lives. Because Karma isn’t a Bitch to us. She is on our side. To all of you keep up the good work. But at least them setting with us gives everyone else hope.

  3. Matt said

    Outstanding story and thanks to Christian and company for doing the research and work on this. I will share this on Facebook and Twitter. -matt

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