Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

Archive for July, 2010

As Casualty Numbers Soar, Contractor Casualties remain uncounted

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 31, 2010

As David Isenberg pointed out in the Huffington Post recently, a new database designed, in part, to track contractor deaths is still not being used to do so.

US casualties in Afghanistan soar to record highs

KABUL, Afghanistan – In a summer of suffering, America’s military death toll in Afghanistan is rising, with back-to-back record months for U.S. losses in the grinding conflict. All signs point to more bloodshed in the months ahead, straining the already shaky international support for the war.

Six more Americans were reported killed in fighting in the south — three Thursday and three Friday — pushing the U.S. death toll for July to a record 66 and surpassing June as the deadliest month for U.S. forces in the nearly nine-year war.

U.S. officials confirmed the latest American deaths Friday but gave no further details. Five of the latest reported deaths were a result of hidden bombs — the insurgents’ weapon of choice — and the sixth to an armed attack, NATO said in statements.

U.S. commanders say American casualties are mounting because more troops are fighting — and the Taliban are stiffening resistance as NATO and Afghan forces challenge the insurgents in areas they can’t afford to give up without a fight.

“Recent months in Afghanistan have … seen tough fighting and tough casualties. This was expected,” the top U.S. and NATO commander, Gen. David Petraeus, said at his Senate confirmation hearing last month. “My sense is that the tough fighting will continue; indeed, it may get more intense in the next few months.”

That forecast is proving grimly accurate.

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Fatal Crash Stokes Afghan-U.S. Tension in Kabul

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 30, 2010

US embassy vehicles torched in Afghan capital

KABUL — Rioting erupted in Kabul Friday when two US embassy vehicles were set ablaze after one collided with a civilian car, killing a number of occupants, officials and witnesses said.

Auto Accident Involving American Contractors Leaves 4 Locals Dead; Mob Hurls Stones, Sets Fire to Vehicles

(CBS/AP) A fatal traffic accident involving private U.S. security contractors sparked an angry demonstration in Kabul Friday, with enraged Afghans hurling stones, setting fire to two vehicles and shouting “death to America” before police fired guns into the air to disperse the crowd.

Four Afghans were killed in the accident on the main airport road, according to Kabul’s criminal investigations chief, Abdul Ghaafar Sayedzada.

U.S. embassy spokesperson Caitlin Hayden confirmed to CBS News that the SUV involved was carrying four contractors from DynCorp, a private firm affiliated with the embassy. Afghan police officials said the Americans were traveling in a two-vehicle convoy.

There were conflicting accounts of the accident and its aftermath. Local witnesses told CBS News that the Americans were driving the wrong way down the road, though DynCorp denies that version of events.

Witnesses also said only three locals were killed in the crash, with the fourth dying after the U.S. contractors opened fire into the crowd.  Read the full story here

Posted in Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Dyncorp, State Department | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Did Wikileaks Reveal a Poisoned Beer Plot?

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 29, 2010

Dan Fletcher at  Time Newsfeed

An interesting morsel from the Wikileaks files: an allegation the Afghan insurgency, in conjunction with Pakistan’s ISI spy agency, tried to poison an American contractor working in Afghanistan through poisoning his beer.

The Christian Science Monitor details the plot, identifying the target as James Yeager, an American geologist. Yeager alleges he returned home one night to find his home burgled, with only a bottle of Corona beer left behind. Since Yeager didn’t like Corona, the beer left sit for sometime until, in a moment of boozy desperation, he cracked it open.

“I pulled it out and when I popped it there was no fizz and the cap was loose,” Yeager tells the CSM. “Because this one didn’t have fizz you wonder if it went rancid or not, and I just kind of sniffed it and I went ‘Oh, that doesn’t smell like beer.'”

Yeager identified the smell as sulfuric acid, which meshes with a report in the trove of documents released by Wikileaks this weekend, the contents of which allege that insurgents planned similar beer attacks. However, even with Yeager’s report, experts remain skeptical of the validity of the intelligence and warn that the plot should be “taken with a grain of salt.” (via the Christian Science Monitor.)

Posted in Afghanistan, CIA, Civilian Contractors | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Claimant’s contest of actions taken by employer or carrier with respect to the claim.

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 29, 2010

20 CFR 702.261

Where the claimant contests an action by the employer or carrier reducing, suspending, or terminating benefits, including medical care, he should immediately notify the office of the district director having jurisdiction, in person or in writing, and set forth the facts pertinent to his complaint.

List of District Offices

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Fallen Soldiers’ Families Denied Cash as Insurers Profit

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 29, 2010

“It’s a betrayal. It saddens me as an American that a company would stoop so low as to make a profit on the death of a soldier. Is there anything lower than that?”

Yes Cindy we understand.  AIG, CNA, ACE, Zurich and more are also War Profiteers and should be prosecuted as such.

By David Evans at Bloomberg

The package arrived at Cindy Lohman’s home in Great Mills, Maryland, just two weeks after she learned that her son, Ryan, a 24-year-old Army sergeant, had been killed by a bomb in Afghanistan. It was a thick, 9-inch-by- 12-inch envelope from Prudential Financial Inc., which handles life insurance for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Inside was a letter from Prudential about Ryan’s $400,000 policy. And there was something else, which looked like a checkbook. The letter told Lohman that the full amount of her payout would be placed in a convenient interest-bearing account, allowing her time to decide how to use the benefit.

“You can hold the money in the account for safekeeping for as long as you like,” the letter said. In tiny print, in a disclaimer that Lohman says she didn’t notice, Prudential disclosed that what it called its Alliance Account was not guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its September issue.

Lohman, 52, left the money untouched for six months after her son’s August 2008 death.

“It’s like you’re paying me off because my child was killed,” she says. “It was a consolation prize that I didn’t want.”

As time went on, she says, she tried to use one of the “checks” to buy a bed, and the salesman rejected it. That happened again this year, she says, when she went to a Target store to purchase a camera on Armed Forces Day, May 15.

‘I’m Shocked’

Lohman, a public health nurse who helps special-needs children, says she had always believed that her son’s life insurance funds were in a bank insured by the FDIC. That money — like $28 billion in 1 million death-benefit accounts managed by insurers — wasn’t actually sitting in a bank.

It was being held in Prudential’s general corporate account, earning investment income for the insurer. Prudential paid survivors like Lohman 1 percent interest in 2008 on their Alliance Accounts, while it earned a 4.8 percent return on its corporate funds, according to regulatory filings.

“I’m shocked,” says Lohman, breaking into tears as she learns how the Alliance Account works. “It’s a betrayal. It saddens me as an American that a company would stoop so low as to make a profit on the death of a soldier. Is there anything lower than that?”

Millions of bereaved Americans have unwittingly been placed in the same position by their insurance companies. The practice of issuing what they call “checkbooks” to survivors, instead of paying them lump sums, extends well beyond the military.

You’ll want to read the entire story here if you can stomach it

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Follow the Money, Political Watch, Veterans Affairs | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Danger: Never attend an Insurance Company Second Opinion Unarmed

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 27, 2010

Never attend any medical or psychiatric evaluation on behalf of the DBA insurance company without your lawyer or an advocate that your attorney provides and

Never attend one of these without a videographer.

NEVER

The Insurance Company may have you see a doctor of their choice for a second opinion.  While you must attend these you are afforded many rights under the DBA that are being ignored at your expense by YOUR attorneys, the DoL, and the ALJ”s.   Ask your attorney what your rights are.

This is especially important if you are a TBI or PTSD patient.  You will need an advocate with you at all times who is able to protect you from inappropriate questioning and intimidation tactics.

You are required to attend, you must cooperate within the “scope and purpose” of the examination as it relates to the aspect of your claim you are being examined for.

Your lawyer, your advocate, and your video of the examination are your only defense against manipulative and deceitful Doctors who are paid by insurance companies to help deny your claim.

Shame on you DBA attorneys who send your unsuspecting clients into these ambushes blind, far from their geographic area, without the scope and purpose of the examination clearly defined, on short notice and without even checking the credentials and backgrounds of these insurance company whores.

And even more worrisome are the ALJ’s who set aside the rights afforded the claimant under the very rules and regulations used to set up these deceitful exams on behalf of the insurance company.

Never attend an Insurance Company Second Opinion Unarmed

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

Pentagon does not even track the names of slain contractors

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 27, 2010

there’s no indication that the Pentagon cares much — the DOD told Salon this month that it does not even track the names of slain contractors.

The WikiLeaks war logs show in sometimes gruesome detail how Afghan contractors working for the Defense Department have borne much of the worst violence of the nine-year war.

Salon recently reported that 260 private security contractors — virtually all of them Afghan — were killed in action in a 10-month period. But the WikiLeaks war logs document previously unreported violence against other types of contractors too — those who do construction and drive trucks and serve food and perform all the other work that makes the war possible.

In September 2006, in a remote area northeast of Kandahar, troops found a decapitated body on the side of the road, with the knife “presumed to be used to decapitate him … still there,” along with a letter. “The letter states that he was a contractor working for the US at Nawa and that he was murdered because he was helping the US,” the log says. The log ends with “nothing further to report.”

The gruesome incident was never publicly reported by the Pentagon and thus did not appear in the media, according to a Nexis search.

Here’s another incident from 2008  — one of dozens that was never reported. This one occurred in western Afghanistan and two contractors had their legs blown off:

At 0810 local time on 24 Sep, an vehicle was struck by an IED, 3 [civilian contractors] were injured during the incident, 2 have lost their legs and remain in a critical condition in Herat hospital and 1 is in stable condition.

There are dozens more  stories just like this in the WikiLeaks documents. But there’s no indication that the Pentagon cares much — the DOD told Salon this month that it does not even track the names of slain contractors.

Posted in Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Occupational Exposure to Hexavalent Chromium

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 27, 2010

http://www.dol.gov/federalregister/Search/GetHtml.aspx?DocID=11526

Occupational Exposure to Hexavalent Chromium AGENCY: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Department of Labor. ACTION: Final rule.

SUMMARY: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is amending the existing standard which limits occupational exposure to hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)). OSHA has determined based upon the best evidence currently available that at the current permissible exposure limit (PEL) for Cr(VI), workers face a significant risk to material impairment of their health.

The evidence in the record for this rulemaking indicates that workers exposed to Cr(VI) are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer. The record also indicates that occupational exposure to Cr(VI) may result in asthma, and damage to the nasal epithelia and skin.

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Department of Labor, Iraq, KBR, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

US Gov contractors have 20 days to get those illegal workers out of Iraq!

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 25, 2010

According to a recent memo to ALL CONTRACTORS IN IRAQ from COL Nolan of the Centcom Contracting Command, ALL contractors in Iraq have 20 days to repatriate (send home) third country nationals who’s countries prohibit travel to Iraq. This includes among others, the Philippines and Nepal.

OMG!! This will affect virtually every service KBR provides the DoD in Iraq. I would guess there are 1000′s of Filipino workers who work in the Dining Facilities (DFAC’s), in the Laundries, drive trucks and shuttle buses, craftspeople and laborers. I would suspect there are direct hire Filipinos as well as Filipinos who work for KBR subcontractors such as PPI and Serka who were evidently smuggled in most likely from countries like Jordan or Turkey.

I hope the DCMA will write Corrective Action Requests (CARs) if services suffer. KBR as well as every other contractor in Iraq had to know about the Iraq travel restrictions of the Filipinos. It only made sense the the Filipinos were being smuggled in therefore violating Philippine and Iraqi law.

This will take definitely put a kink in the illicit sex trafficking and trade in Iraq…..for a little while anyway. And I do hope these contractors don’t just dump these workers on the border somewhere and leave them like they have been leaving them stranded in Iraq.

On a positive note, in the midst of a huge Reduction In Force in Iraq, it may make room for more Americans to stay and work on DoD contracts.

I don’t want to be unappreciative of what appears to be very strong action on the part of the DoD, but I do have to ask….”What took you so long?”  Original at MsSparky

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Iraq, KBR, Political Watch | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 23, 2010

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.

By Julie Sulivan The Oregonian

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 Hazards.

Please Read the Entire Story here

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Toxic Exposures, Veterans Affairs | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Three Triple Canopy Security Contractors Killed Green Zone Rocket Attack, 2 Americans Wounded

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 22, 2010

BBC News Middle East

A rocket attack on Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone has killed three foreign security workers and injured 15 more, according to the US Embassy.

The dead and wounded are all employees of the US contractor Triple Canopy.

Two Ugandans and a Peruvian died, and two Americans were among the those wounded when the rocket struck on Thursday.

Triple Canopy, based in Herndon, Virginia, guards security checkpoints for US military facilities in Iraq.

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Iraq, State Department, Triple Canopy | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Bullshit as Science: The Fake Bad Scale

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 22, 2010

To be sure, we all know that there are malingerers out there: but the “Fake Bad Scale” is no help whatsoever in singling them out.

A Test for Malingerers by Workers Comp Insider

Paul Lees-Haley, PhD, is a psychologist who has come up with a 43 question test to separate the truly disabled from malingerers.

Lees-Haley is either a genius or a pompous fraud right out of Mark Twain. Read on and decide for yourself.

(This posting is based upon an article by David Armstrong in the Wall Street Journal, which limits access to subscribers.)

Lees-Haley studied the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), a standard tool for determining personality characteristics. He isolated 43 questions that he believes, taken together, clearly separate the truly disabled from malingerers and frauds. Lees-Haley’s brainchild, dubbed the “Fake Bad Scale” test, was developed in 1991 and is finding its way into courtrooms around the country.

Lees-Haley is available to testify in person on behalf of insurance companies as an expert witness. He charges $3,500 to evaluate a claimant and $600 per hour for depositions and testimony. Worth every penny, I’m sure, if his testimony results in the denial of benefits to a claimant.

Testing the Test
Below you will find a sample of questions from the test, requiring a “True” or False” response. A “T” before the question indicates a “true” response is indicative of malingering. Likewise for “false.”
F My sex life is satisfactory.
T I have nightmares every few nights.
F I have very few headaches.
F I have few or no pains.
T I have more trouble concentrating than others seem to have.
T I feel tired a good deal of the time.
F I am not feeling much pressure or stress these days.

You don’t need a PhD in psychology to identify the ambiguity and unfairness in these questions, which are typical of the test as a whole.

In the aftermath of an injury, someone might well feel stressed out, have difficulty concentrating, be tired much of the time and have frequent headaches. These responses do not necessarily indicate malingering.

They can just as easily be valid indicators of post-traumatic response to injury.

The “Fake Bad Scale” fails to account for anything that might have happened in the real world. Using this corrupt measure, every survivor of the 9/11 attacks would be deemed a “malingerer.”

Fortunately, the validity of the test has come under fire.

A number of courts have thrown it out. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that untold numbers of people who have answered these questions honestly have ended up being labeled (and libeled) as “malingerers.”

Shame on the attorneys who rely on this phony science, and shame on the insurance carriers who retain them. And double shame to the originators of the MMPI, who have formally given their stamp of approval to this inept tool.

To be sure, we all know that there are malingerers out there: but the “Fake Bad Scale” is no help whatsoever in singling them out.

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Department of Labor, Misjudgements, Racketeering | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Nothing is Too Good For Our Boys So That’s What We’ll Give Them: Nothing

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 21, 2010

By David Isenberg at Partnership for a Secure America

“It’s clear that this is life-long,” he said.

It has been nearly two months since I last wrote about the health of American military personnel and veterans so let’s look at it again. The news, unfortunately, isn’t any better.

First, let’s look at the past. Today the Los Angeles times reports that researchers have found that soldiers who suffered brain injuries can develop seizures decades — as long as 35 years — after the initial injury. A study published in the journal Neurology found that among a group of 199 Vietnam veterans, about 13% developed post-traumatic epilepsy more than 14 years after they had suffered a penetrating head wound, such as a gunshot injury or shrapnel that entered brain tissue. Penetrating head injuries are generally linked with a higher risk for epilepsy than other types of head injuries, such as concussions.

It is unclear how the study relates to combatants returning from Iraq and Afghanistan today, the authors said. The Vietnam veterans in the study suffered from penetrating brain injuries, which are rarer in soldiers fighting in the current conflicts because helmets have improved. Today, closed-head injuries (where the brain is not penetrated) are more common, in part because of the helmet improvements and partly because of a change in the weaponry used in modern warfare.

Nonetheless, Grafman said, the study underscores the importance of long-term follow-up for military civilians who have suffered traumatic brain injuries.

“It’s clear that this is life-long,” he said.

Now, let’s look at the present. Suicides among military personnel are up. Salon reported last week on the suicide of Marine Sgt. Tom Bagosy at Camp Lejune, North Carolina. The article noted that last year, 52 Marines committed suicide. The suicide rate among Marines has doubled since 2005, and the Corps has the highest suicide rate in the military Please read the entire article here

See also at MsSparky

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, PTSD and TBI, Veterans Affairs | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Two American Civilian trainers killed in Afghanistan

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 20, 2010

Suspected Afghan army trainer opens fire on fellow instructors

former Lawton police officer is one of the latest civilian casualties in Afghanistan after he was killed along with another civilian and an Afghan soldier by another reported Afghan soldier near Kabul in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif Tuesday.

Charles Buckman, 39, was killed Tuesday after the shooter, a suspected Afghan army trainer, turned his weapon during a training exercise at a shooting range.

The shooter also died in the incident, and two other service members one Afghan and the other a member of international coalition forces were wounded, a statement from NATO‘s International Security Assistance Force said.

The company these trainers worked for is MPRI.

by Joshua Partow  Washington Post  July 20,  11:07

KABUL — A suspected Afghan army trainer on a shooting range in northern Afghanistan opened fire on his fellow instructors Tuesday, killing two American civilian trainers and one other Afghan soldier before being killed himself, NATO officials said.

Few details were immediately available about the circumstances surrounding the shooting, and NATO officials said they had started a joint investigation into the incident with the Afghan Ministry of Defense. The name of the contractor that provided the U.S. trainers was also not disclosed.

The shooting, which also wounded one NATO soldier and one Afghan soldier, took place on a range as part of a routine weapons proficiency class at the Regional Military Training Center’s eight-week Afghan army basic training course at Camp Shaheen. Across the country, about 20,000 Afghan National Army trainees are currently involved in such a course, NATO officials said.  Read the entire story here

Posted in Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

CNA Claims Adjuster Debora Donato

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 20, 2010

Let us know what’s up with this one, aside from being non responsive

Posted in AIG and CNA, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Delay, Deny, Hope that I die, Racketeering | Tagged: , , , , , | 8 Comments »

 
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