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Archive for August, 2011

Toxic Tour

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 31, 2011

Theresa Campbell Daily Commercial  August 31, 2011

Jill Wilkins’ husband never mentioned the thick, black smoke that smoldered from toxic burn pits in Iraq.

It wasn’t until Kevin was dying from a brain tumor when a doctor questioned the Air Force Reserve nurse about his military service.

“Kevin, when you were over there were you exposed to anything?”

“Oh, yeah, all kinds of stuff,” he replied.

Those words stunned the Eustis wife and mother of two. Jill also learned through research that burn pits were being used in place of incinerators in Iraq and Afghanistan, where garbage, lithium batteries, tires, water bottles, human waste, metal, aluminum, hydraulic fluids, medical supplies and old medicines were doused with jet fuel and would burn 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Kevin had walked through the smoke daily, without a mask, while working at a clinic at Balad Air Base in Iraq during the summer of 2006. A second tour followed in 2007 in Qatar.

“I’m sure that even as he was exposed to it, in the back of his mind he wasn’t thinking that it could do something to him,” Jill said.

The U.S. government recently acknowledged the harmful effects of burn pits. In a report released last year by the United States Government Accountability Office, “burn pits help base commanders manage waste, but also produces smoke and harmful emissions that military and other health professionals believe may result in acute and chronic health effects to those exposed.”

The burn pit at Balad reportedly burned 250 tons of waste a day, exposing about 25,000 U.S, military personnel and thousands of contractors to the toxins.

It was shut down in 2009, however as of last year, 22 other burn pits were still in operation

Please read the entire story here

Posted in Burn Pits, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Insurers Deliberately Confuse Consumers

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 30, 2011

It’s about time the government took action to end these companies’ practices that — yes, I’ll have to say it again — “make it nearly impossible to understand, or even to obtain, information we need.”

“Insurers make promises they have no intention of keeping, flout regulations designed to protect consumers, and make it nearly impossible to understand — or even to obtain — information we need.”

This was deliberate, I told the committee, because the more confused and ill-informed consumers are, the more money insurers make off of them

Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch  by Wendell Potter

Wendell Potter Former Head of PR for Cigna

A couple of years ago, when Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia asked me to testify about little-known health insurance industry practices at a hearing of his Senate Commerce Committee, I initially was reluctant. I knew that if I was completely honest, my life would change forever.

What he was asking me to do was to disclose practices that have contributed to the growing number of Americans without insurance, the even faster growing number of us who are underinsured, and the phenomenal increase in insurance industry profits over the years, even as the ranks of those without coverage swelled.

The purpose of the hearing was to determine what Congress could do to require insurance companies to provide more pertinent and comprehensible information to their enrollees and prospective enrollees to help them understand what they were buying. What could the government do, the senators wanted to know, to help consumers figure out their benefits, compare different policies, and truly understand what would be covered and what wouldn’t, and what their total financial obligations would be, including out-of-pocket costs, in the event of sickness or injury?

I agreed to testify in hopes that, as an insider — an insurance industry executive for two decades — I might be helpful as members of Congress drafted this important part of larger legislation to reform the U.S. health care system, especially the health insurance industry. Without disclosure, it’s hard to understand what you’re paying for — and what you can count on in return.

Please read the entire article here

Two long-time advocates of greater transparency joined me on the panel: Karen Pollitz, then research professor at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute, who would later join Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ consumer information and insurance oversight education team, and Nancy Metcalf, senior editor at Consumer Reports. Both of them encouraged the senators to require insurers to provide not only useful and understandable information but to do so in a standard format. Without that, they argued, consumers still would not be able to compare one health plan with another.

Insurers Deliberately Confuse Customers

I couldn’t have agreed more. In my remarks, I told the committee how insurers deliberately confuse their customers and dump the sick — all so they can satisfy their Wall Street investors.

I went on to say that insurers “make promises they have no intention of keeping, flout regulations designed to protect consumers, and make it nearly impossible to understand — or even to obtain — information we need.”

This was deliberate, I told the committee, because the more confused and ill-informed consumers are, the more money insurers make off of them

Posted in Follow the Money, Political Watch, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Ranger’s widow expelled from Rumsfeld book signing

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 29, 2011

Former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld begins to sign a copy of his book for Jorge Gonzalez while Ashley Joppa-Hagemann looks on. Gonzalez and Joppa-Hagemann were later escorted from the event Friday at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Mrs. Joppa-Hagemann introduced herself by handing a copy of her husband’s funeral program to Rumsfeld, and telling him that her husband had joined the military because he believed the lies told by Rumsfeld during his tenure with the Bush administration.

The News Tribune August 29,2011

Two people were removed from a Donald Rumsfeld book signing Friday at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, including the Yelm widow of an Army Ranger who blames the military for her husband’s suicide.

Security officers for the former secretary of defense escorted Ashley Joppa-Hagemann out by the arm, she said Saturday. She and Jorge Gonzalez, the executive director of Coffee Strong, a Lakewood-based anti-war group, confronted Rumsfeld as he promoted his memoir, “Known and Unknown.”

According to an account posted on Coffee Strong’s website: “Mrs. Joppa-Hagemann introduced herself by handing a copy of her husband’s funeral program to Rumsfeld, and telling him that her husband had joined the military because he believed the lies told by Rumsfeld during his tenure with the Bush administration.”

Joppa-Hagemann complained about Rumsfeld’s response Friday to her account of Staff Sgt. Jared Hagemann’s multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and his death at age 25. Hagemann belonged to the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.

The website said Rumsfeld’s “only response was to callously quip, ‘Oh yeah, I heard about that.’”

Please read more here

Posted in Political Watch, PTSD and TBI, Suicide | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Soldier suspected in 4 slayings found dead

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 29, 2011

UPI August 29, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 28 (UPI) — A U.S. Army officer suspected of shooting four people to death and wounding two police officers was found dead Sunday in Pennsylvania, authorities said.

The body of Capt. Leonard Egland, 37, of Fort Lee, Va., was found in brush on a vacant lot in Warwick Township about 3:40 p.m., The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Buck County District Attorney David W. Heckler said. Egland apparently died of a self-inflicted gunshot, authorities said.

The newspaper said Egland took flight after allegedly gunning down his estranged wife, her boyfriend and the man’s son in Virginia. He then apparently drove to the Philadelphia area where he shot his former mother-in-law dead at her home in Buckingham Township Saturday night.

Investigators said Egland had his young daughter with him and dropped her at the emergency room of a hospital in Quakertown. Hospital personnel called police but Egland allegedly fled and later fired at pursuing officers. Two Doylestown officers suffered minor wounds.

The Inquirer said Egland apparently returned to Virginia from an overseas deployment last week

Please read the entire story at UPI

Posted in Melt Down, PTSD and TBI | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Military superbug, quiet civilian epidemic

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 21, 2011

What this article fails to point out is that Acinetobacter baumannii infections were extremely rare in the US prior to the invasion of Iraq.  The Iraq Infections website mapped the spread of this Superbug from the military medical system to community hospitals across our country beginning in 2004. Acinetobacter baumannii spread from Landstuhl and the three main military hospital centers, to the VA hospitals, to the community hospitals.

Severely injured Civilian Contractors were repatriated via the military medical evacuation system then delivered to unsuspecting community hospitals in the US, the UK, Australia, and the many third world countries the TCN’s come from.

The quiet civilian epidemic was allowed to propagate due to the DoD and CDC‘s concerted effort to cover up this disaster that the Military had created themselves.  The DoD promoted such notions as the insurgents were putting Acinetobacter on bombs and the Main Stream Media (here and here) parroted the propaganda.   The CDC claimed they were not “authorized” to talk about it.

The military knew all along that Acinetobacter baumannii was a hospital acquired organism yet promoted the lie that it came from the soil in Iraq.  The original strains of Ab infecting soldiers and contractors were matched to the European (Landstuhl) strains which were already fast becoming a problem there.

See some of the Casualties of Acinetobacter baumanii

Military superbug, quiet civilian epidemic

(Notice even this reporter cannot escape the notion that the sand in Iraq was responsible)

A thick layer of dust covers the blazing hot combat fields of Afghanistan and Iraq, getting under soldiers’ helmets, chalking up their fatigues and covering exposed skin. When enemy fire hits, troops often sustain severe burns and open wounds with shredded surrounding skin. Medical aid is generally faster than in any other U.S. wars, thanks to technology and a transport chain designed for high speed. When medics come, there’s an efficient process of lifting wounded troops onto open transport vehicles, prodding them with devices to assess vitals, wrapping their wounds and giving them fluids and blood. But during all that activity, the dust, the many hands and bandages, open wounds and needle punctures give other enemies — microscopic superbugs — an opportunity to attack from the inside.

For troops wounded in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, one of the most prolific superbugs has been an almost exclusively hospital-bred strain of bacteria known as “Iraqibacter,” a mutated version of the common acinetobacter baumannii. While military hospitals have waged a somewhat successful internal battle against the bacteria, for civilian hospitals in the U.S. and around the world, these bugs are a formidable foe.

“The data we were seeing shocked us into action,” (is five years the normal reaction time?) said Colonel Dr. Duane Hospenthal, Infectious Diseases Consultant for the U.S. Army Surgeon General. In fall 2008, the military expanded its infection monitoring and control system, also known as GEIS (Global Emerging Infectious Surveillance), to include acinetobacter and other multidrug-resistant organisms. This overhaul followed a spate of high-profile stories in Wired magazine and on the PBS program “Nova” about the prevalence of acinetobacter at Walter Reed Medical Center.

Please read the entire story here

Posted in Acinetobacter, Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Department of Defense, Political Watch, Toxic Exposures, Veterans Affairs | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Friends, family coping with a hero’s suicide

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 14, 2011

And comrades say his death is a warning that returning troops and their families need more help to cope with post-combat stress

New Hampshire Sunday News

James Keenan was a “true-blue American hero,” and that’s how his family wants people to remember him.

Keenan, a decorated New Hampshire Army National Guardsman, volunteered for two tours of duty in Iraq, earning the Bronze Star with Valor for saving his entire squad in an ambush nearly seven years ago.

The evening of June 29, Keenan died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head in his Newmarket apartment.

Keenan, 33, left behind his parents and sister, a 7-year-old son, Robbie — and far more questions than answers.

Posted in Hope that I die, Melt Down, Political Watch, PTSD and TBI, Suicide | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

After 8 deployments, Army Ranger takes own life

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 13, 2011

“And there’s no way that any God would forgive him – that he was going to hell,” says Ashley. “He couldn’t live with that any more.”

Kokomo News  August 13, 2011

JOINT BASE LEWIS MCCHORD, Wash. – A soldier’s widow says his fellow Army Rangers wouldn’t do anything to help him before he took his own life – after eight deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Army found Staff Sgt. Jared Hagemann’s body at a training area of Joint Base Lewis McChord a few weeks ago.

A spokesman for the base tells KOMO News that the nature of the death is still undetermined. But Staff Sgt. Hagemann’s widow says her husband took his own life – and it didn’t need to happen.

“It was just horrible. And he would just cry,” says Ashley Hagemann.

Ashley says her husband Jared tried to come to grips with what he’d seen and done on his eight deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“And there’s no way that any God would forgive him – that he was going to hell,” says Ashley. “He couldn’t live with that any more.”

Please read more here

Posted in Political Watch, PTSD and TBI, Suicide | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Army Suicide Rate Hits New High

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 12, 2011

It’s the drinking duck. In their mind they really don’t believe these injuries are as serious as the injuries that they can see

Mark Thompson  Battleland at Time

Just when you’re thinking the Army may have turned the corner on its troops killing themselves, a new number surfaces that dashes those hopes. Friday afternoon the Army said it suffered a record 32 suspected suicides in July, the most since it began releasing monthly data two years ago.

The Army is waging war on suicide just as seriously as it has been fighting for nearly a decade in Afghanistan and Iraq. Commanders are immensely frustrated by their inability to drive down the rate, which is demoralizing and depressing to the troops, their families, and the nation. President Obama has even gotten involved, deciding last month that he would send condolence letters to the families of those service personnel who had killed themselves in combat zones.

Last month’s total — averaging more than one suicide a day — included 22 active-duty troops and 10 reservists. It eclipsed the prior record of 31 set in June 2010. “While the high number of potential suicides in July is discouraging,” said General Peter Chiarelli, vice chief of staff of the Army, “we are confident our efforts aimed at increasing individuals’ resiliency, while reducing incidence of at-risk and high-risk behavior across the force, are having a positive impact.”

Chiarelli, the service’s top suicide fighter, recently discussed the challenge over breakfast with reporters. “The hardest part about this is breaking down the stigma. I’m not going to kid myself. As hard as I try, and I brief every brigade combat team going out, both in the National Guard and in the active component. I brief the leadership in an hour-long VTC [video-teleconference] and I explain to them what is traumatic brain injury, what is post traumatic stress,” he said of the key contributors to suicide. “As hard as I try and as much as sometimes from about 20% of the audience I get the drinking duck, and I see the head going up and down but I know it’s exactly that. It’s the drinking duck. In their mind they really don’t believe these injuries are as serious as the injuries that they can see.

Please read the original here

Posted in Melt Down, PTSD and TBI, Suicide | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Casualty List Afghanistan Chopper Crash

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 7, 2011

Overseas Civilian Contractors is compiling a casualty list with links

Casualty List Afghanistan Chopper Crash 8/6/2011

We are updating as the families release their names

Photos of the Fallen

Click on each name to read their story

Aaron Carson Vaughn    SEAL

and here

John W Brown    USAF Tech Sgt Pararescueman Medic

Chief Petty Officer Robert James Reeves  SEAL

Lt. Commander Jonas Kelsall SEAL

and here

Jon Tumilson   SEAL

Kraig Vickers   Navy EOD

and here   and here

Kevin Houston  SEAL

and here

Chris Campbell   Christopher Campbell SEAL

Spencer Duncan   Army Specialist 4 Door Gunner Bravo Company

Patrick Hamburger    Army Sgt Nebraska National Guard

and here

Michael Strange    Petty Officer First Class

and here

Tommy Ratzlaff   SEAL

Matt Mills  Chief Petty Officer Stephan Mathew Mills SEAL

and here    and here

Jason Workman  Petty Officer First Class SEAL

Nick Spehar   Nicholas Spehar SEAL

Matt Mason  Mathew Mason  SEAL

and here

Derek Benson  Darrik Benson SEAL

Brian Bill    SEAL

and here    here

Alexander Bennett  Army Specialist  Flight Mechanic

Bryan Nichols   Chief Warrant Officer 2  Pilot

Dan Zerbe   Daniel Zerbe Airman  E-5 Staff Sergeant Pararescue Medic

and here    and here

Lou Langlais  SEAL

John Douangdara  SEAL  Lead Dog Handler

Dave Carter   Chinook Pilot  Army National Guard

and here   and here

Army Aviator, Co Pilot, Colorado Guardsman, Name not yet announced

Jesse Pittman  SEAL

Heath Robinson

Nick Null  Navy EOD

and here   and here

Unnamed Navy SEAL from West Virginia

Jared William Day  Information Systems Technician First Class DEVGRU

Statement by Family of Jared William Day

John Weston Faas   Chief Petty Officer

Statement by Family of John Weston Faas

Andy Harvell   Staff Sgt  Combat Controller

and here

Please send info or updates to

Finally on August 11

Pentagon releases Identities of Troops killed in Afghanistan Crash

Posted in Afghanistan | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Initial reports indicate up to 25 Navy SEALs killed in Afghan Crash

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 6, 2011

ABC News also reports on the victims:

Initial reports indicate up to 25 Navy SEALs were on the aircraft at the time.

It was also carrying seven Afghan Special Forces troops, one interpreter, five member helicopter crew and one dog

Worst Day of War: 22 from Navy SEAL Team 6 Killed

A NATO chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan during an overnight operation in eastern Afghanistan, the New York Times reports, killing at least 37 people on board. At least 31 U.S. soldiers were killed, as well as seven Afghan soldiers, a statement from the Afghan president’s office said. If confirmed, this would be the deadliest day for the U.S. since the start of the war.

This is what happened, as far as we know: The helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in the Tangi Valley of the Wardak Province just west of Kabul. According to Al-Jazeera, the Taliban “quickly claimed to have shot down the helicopter during a firefight.” They also said eight of their fighters were killed in the fighting. A spokesman for the Taliban, Zabiullah Mujahid, said insurgents shot down the helicopter around 11 p.m. Friday as it was starting an operation on a house where the militants were gathering, the Times reports. Sources on the ground also told Al Jazeera “that the helicopter was apparently taking off from a roof of a building during this operation when it then crashed.”

However, reports are conflicting. Gen. Abdul Qayum Baqizoy, police chief of Wardak, said the operation began around 1 a.m. Saturday as NATO and Afghan forces attacked a Taliban compound, and the firefight lasted at least two hours. Reports are also unconfirmed as to the nationality of the NATO soldiers killed, but the Times notes that “Americans were known to be carrying out most of the operations in the area.” But if confirmed, the U.S. casualties would outnumber those in June 2005, the second most deadly day, where 16 U.S. troops were killed when their helicopter crashed in eastern Kunar province after apparently being hit by a rocket-propelled grenade

Please read more here

Posted in Afghanistan | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Benjamin Davine, Contractor with ITT Mission Systems, Killed in Kuwait

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 5, 2011

Hampstead veteran killed in Kuwait accident

August 5, 2011

HAMPSTEAD – The Hampstead community is mourning the death of a local Air Force veteran who was killed in an accident Wednesday while working as a civilian contractor in Kuwait.

Benjamin Davine, 27, died when his car was struck by a fuel tanker, his family told WMUR-TV.

A graduate of Pinkerton Academy in Derry, Davine was the son of Nancy and Howard Davine, a former Hampstead selectman and school board member.

Davine was reportedly working for ITT Mission Systems, providing support for military operations as a contract firefighter.

According to his Facebook page, Davine served as a firefighter for six years in the military before becoming a contractor.

Davine’s death overseas is the third to strike this small community in recent years.

Pfc. Matthew L. Bertolino, a Marine from Hampstead, was killed in Afghanistan in 2006. Army Capt. Jonathan D. Grassbaugh died a year later in a roadside bombing in Iraq. Grassbaugh was the son of Hampstead Middle School Principal Patti Grassbaugh.

“I really feel so, so sad. It’s just really unbelievable to have lost three of our students,” said Hampstead School Board Chairman Natalie Gallo.

Gallo remembers all three men when they attended school in Hampstead, where she was the middle school librarian for over 30 years before retiring in 2000. Davine’s mother also once worked at the middle school.

“I just really and truly can’t believe it,” Gallo said.

Please read the original article here

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

Keep it clean on Facebook

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 4, 2011

We do not recommend giving up your Facebook Friends or Groups but remember that this would not be a good place to exaggerate your well-being or circumstances in order to impress your friends.

Social media and workers comp

Cross Posted from Workers’ Comp Insider   August 3, 2011

Are Facebook, Twitter and other social media postings fair game when conducting a workers comp fraud investigation?

We’ve posted on this topic previously, including a reference to a successful Facebook-related investigation conducted by New York State Insurance Department’s Fraud Bureau: social networking, workers comp & the law. Now, two of the experts that we cited in that post – Professor Gregory Duhl of the William Mitchell College of Law and attorney Jaclyn Millner – have a new article that is worth your attention: Social media and insurance fraud.

In the article, they answer our opening question with a strong affirmative, making a comparison between internet searches of public social networking profiles to the more common fraud investigation tool of video surveillance of property-casualty claimants. In fact, they make the case for why insurance investigators should be spending even more company time on Facebook, suggesting that postings or photos can substantiate some other evidence found in an investigation. While privacy issues are of concern, they state:

A privacy argument is unlikely to prevail in court because a person has no reasonable expectation of privacy in whether he or she has a social networking account or in what is posted in his or her profile. Even if a claimant protects his or her social networking profile information with privacy settings, the information is available to at least some third parties, to whom the claimant gives access (the claimant’s “friends”).

Some courts have gone so far as to say that there is no privacy interest in information stored on the internet because even if information, such as social networking information, is protected with privacy settings, it could be accessed by certain members of the public.

The recent case of Romano v. Steelcase Inc. shows that anything posted on Facebook or any other social networking site, whether the user has privacy settings or not, is likely discoverable.

Please continue reading at Workers’ Comp Insider

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Injured Contractors, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, spykids | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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