Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

Archive for September, 2011

Defense Department Inspector General says KBR and the military failed to respond quickly to health risks posed to Oregon soldiers

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 28, 2011

The Oregonian   September 28, 2011

The Defense Department and contractor Kellogg, Brown & Root failed to act as quickly as they should have to protect those exposed to a carcinogenic chemical at an Iraqi water treatment plant in 2003, according to a report Wednesday by the Defense Department’s Inspector General.

The report was hailed as a victory for Oregon soldiers by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who was one of a group of senators who sought the IG’s evaluation, and by Oregon National Guard troops who are among those suing KBR. They accuse the contractor of knowingly exposing them to sodium dichromate, an anticorrosive compound that can cause skin and breathing problems and cancer.

Because KBR “did not fully comply with occupational safety and health standards required” under its contract with the Army, the Inspector General found, “a greater number of Service members and DoD civilian employees were exposed to sodium dichromate, and for longer periods, increasing the potential for chronic health effects.”

The report found that “nearly 1,000 Army soldiers and civilian employees were exposed to the compound in the five months it took from the initial site visit until the military command required personal protective equipment.

Please read more here

Posted in Cancer, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Iraq, KBR, Political Watch, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Injured War Contractors Sue Over Health Care, Disability Payments

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 27, 2011

T Christian Miller ProPublica September 27, 2011

Private contractors injured while working for the U.S. government in Iraq and Afghanistan filed a class action lawsuit [1] in federal court on Monday, claiming that corporations and insurance companies had unfairly denied them medical treatment and disability payments.

The suit, filed in district court in Washington, D.C., claims that private contracting firms and their insurers routinely lied, cheated and threatened injured workers, while ignoring a federal law requiring compensation for such employees. Attorneys for the workers are seeking $2 billion in damages.

The suit is largely based on the Defense Base Act, an obscure law that creates a workers compensation system for federal contract employees working overseas. Financed by taxpayers, the system was rarely used until the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the most privatized conflicts in American history.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians working for federal contractors have been deployed to war zones to deliver mail, cook meals and act as security guards for U.S. soldiers and diplomats. As of June 2011, more than 53,000 civilians have filed claims for injuries in the war zones. Almost 2,500 contract employees have been killed, according to figures [2]kept by the Department of Labor, which oversees the system.

An investigation by ProPublica, the Los Angeles Times and ABC’s 20/20 [3] into the Defense Base Act system found major flaws, including private contractors left without medical care and lax federal oversight. Some Afghan, Iraqi and other foreign workers for U.S. companies were provided with no care at all.

The lawsuit, believed to be the first of its kind, charges that major insurance corporations such as AIG and large federal contractors such as Houston-based KBR deliberately flouted the law, thereby defrauding taxpayers and boosting their profits. In interviews and at Congressional hearings, AIG and KBR have denied such allegations and said they fully complied with the law. They blamed problems in the delivery of care and benefits on the chaos of the war zones

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Attorneys, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, Follow the Money, KBR, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Political Watch, PTSD and TBI, Racketeering, Ronco Consultilng, spykids, State Department, T Christian Miller, Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Defense Base Act Class Action Lawsuit

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 26, 2011

Today  Injured War Zone Contractors and Scott Bloch filed a

Class Action Lawsuit

against the

Defense Base Act Insurance Companies

and some Employers.

Scott Bloch files complaint for $2 billion against major government contractors like

KBR, Blackwater/Xe, DynCorp, G4S/Wackenhut/Ronco Consulting

and the global insurance carriers

AIG, CNA, ACE, Zurich,

on behalf of thousands of former employees,

for

unlawful, fraudulent and bad-faith mistreatment of

injured employees and their families  

Brink Vs. CNA et al

The Defense Base Act Compensation blog and it’s contributors invite you to

Join our Class Action here

The truth will be exposed

WASHINGTON, DC (September 26, 2011)

Since 2003, top government contractors like Blackwater, KBR, DynCorp, CSA/AECOM and ITT have been perpetrating a fraud on their employees and on the American public.  The silent warriors who work for these companies, many of them decorated former military service members, have been injured, mistreated and abandoned by the contracting companies and their insurance carriers who have been paid hundreds of millions of dollars in premiums.

“It is a grave injustice,” Bloch said, “to those who rode alongside American soldiers, including Iraqi and Afghani Nationals, to be case aside without the benefits of the law.  We are supposedly trying to bring them the rule of law.  We are supposedly trying to encourage them in democractic institutions.  We are the ones asking them to believe in justice and individual rights.  This is a travesty to all Americans and those around the world who look to America for an example of humanitarian aid and proper treatment of workers.”

This is a lawsuit for damages in the amount of $2 billion to remedy the injuries and destruction caused to the lives, finances and mental and physical well being of thousands of American families and others whose loved ones were injured while serving America under contracts with the United States.  It seeks an additional unspecified amount to punish the companies who made massive profits while causing this harm to people unlawfully and maliciously and working a fraud on the American public who paid them.
“This abusive and illegal scheme by the defendants has been allowed to go on for too long.  We are talking about loss of life, suicide, loss of homes, marriages, families split up, “ Bloch said, “and the culprits are the large government contractors who should have treated their employees better, and the mega-insurance companies who were paid a hefty sum to make sure the employees were taken care of with uninterrupted benefits in the event of injuries in these war zones.”
This complaint is filed due to actions and omissions of defendants, in conspiracy with others, and individually, to defeat the right of American citizens and foreign nationals to receive their lawful benefits and compensation under the Defense Base Act (“DBA”),  as it adopts the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (“LHWCA”).
The lawsuit explains that those sued engaged under the RICO statute in an enterprise of fraudulent and or criminal acts to further their scheme to defeat the rights of individuals who have been injured or suffered occupational diseases, and death, while on foreign soil in support of defense activities under the DBA.   These acts were perpetrated repeatedly through bank fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, using telephones, faxes, and United States mail .
“These are heroes, decorated by America’s Armed Services,” said Bloch.  “Some of the foreign contractors were decorated special forces soldiers from their countries who assisted the United States in combating threats.  The sheer disregard for human dignity and law is reprehensible and deserves punishment.  These families and many others who have been harmed need treatment, need compensation, need redress of the wrongs that have been perpetrated by these huge companies and insurance carriers for the last 10 years.  They have earned $100 billion per year on the backs of these people, with the blood of these plaintiffs and those whom they represent.”
The was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and covers individuals from all over the United States, South Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan and other counties.

Contact Scott J. Bloch, PA:
Scott Bloch, 202-496-1290

Posted in Afghanistan, AIG and CNA, AWOL Medical Records, Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, Dyncorp, Follow the Money, Injured Contractors, Iraq, KBR, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Misjudgements, Political Watch, PTSD and TBI, Racketeering, Ronco Consultilng, State Department, Suicide, Toxic Exposures, USAID, Veterans, Wackenut, War Hazards Act, Whistleblower, Xe, Zurich | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

U.S. welcome disappoints L-3 Iraqi interpreter who lost his legs

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 26, 2011

“Delays and denials in paying claims are the rule”  Henry Waxman
Published June 12, 2009 5:38 pm

Rabeh Morad removes his right leg.  And then his left.  He sets aside the prosthetics and pulls down an elastic sock, exposing a shriveled stump, just below his knee.

“This,” he says, “is what I gave to America.”

He’s a proud man, stout in frame and loud in voice. He was a successful electronics merchant in the southern Iraqi town of Nasiriyah before answering the U.S. military’s call for interpreters.

Now he’s a refugee. Jobless, distraught — sometimes suicidal — he’s struggling to pay the rent on the small, tidy apartment he shares with his wife and 12-year-old daughter in West Valley City. Along with his other bills, he owes the United States $90 a month for his family’s airline tickets out of the Middle East.

Morad, 54, is among hundreds of wounded interpreters forced to flee Iraq after being exposed as American collaborators. Many waited in other Middle Eastern nations, dreaming of the welcome they’d get once they received permission to immigrate to the United States. Dozens have completed the journey.

Now, they’ve found themselves in a nation not nearly so grateful as they’d imagined it would be.

‘American was going to give us freedom’

Morad had picked up bits of English while working as a merchant sailor on an oil liner in the Persian Gulf. Even today, he struggles to express his thoughts in his second language, but when the U.S.-backed Coalition Provisional Authority took over Iraq after Saddam Hussein’s 2003 ouster, it came with woefully few officials who spoke Arabic.

Morad’s broken English was good enough for provisional government work; he was employed by the CPA for half a year.

Three years later, with violence mounting in Iraq’s Shiite-dominated south, the U.S. Army’s 4th Infantry Division needed an interpreter near the holy city of Najaf. San Diego-based Titan Corporation, which has taken in billions of dollars providing translators to the U.S. military, offered Morad the job.

“I thought Saddam was a criminal,” Morad says. “America was going to give us freedom, and I wanted to help with this.”

Titan paid Morad $242 a week. The Army sent him to work with Lt. Emily Perez, a recent graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Twenty-four years her senior, Morad called Perez “my beautiful child.”

On Sept. 12, 2006, during a patrol near the city of Kifl, a roadside bomb — shaped to ensure maximum lethality — exploded below the Humvee in which Morad and Perez were passengers.

Perez was killed. Morad lost his legs.

‘I always believed’

When U.S. military members lose limbs in combat they’re stabilized in Iraq, evacuated as quickly as possible to the Army hospital at Landstuhl, Germany, then sent to specialized care facilities in the United States. They’re provided physical therapy, job training and counseling. Some receive computerized prosthetic limbs that cost more than a house. Many heal so well that they end up back in uniform — and some who have asked to do so have even returned to combat.

Titan’s interpreters took a different route. After initially being treated at U.S. military hospitals in Iraq, most were sent to Amman, Jordan, where they lived dormitory-style in a hotel owned by a local doctor. There they awaited surgeries and — many hoped — a ticket to the United States. Their care was basic, their prosthetics decidedly low-tech. In most cases, they were treated only for physical injuries, not psychological wounds.

Morad spent a year in Jordan waiting for doctors to tell him he had reached “maximum medical improvement.”

That’s where he met Diyar al-Bayati, another interpreter who, like Morad, lost both legs in a bombing while working for the U.S. Army. Just 20 years old, al-Bayati underwent painful surgeries in Jordan while holding fast to the belief that a grander life awaited him in the United States. He figured his sacrifice would help expedite the immigration process he’d started months earlier, at the urging of the U.S. soldiers he worked alongside.

“I always believed that I would live in America,” he said. But, he sadly adds, he figured he would come here with legs.

Last spring, al-Bayati finally arrived in Utah — and by coincidence, just weeks before Morad — but he found his service to this country counted for little when it came to accessing medical care. He’s still waiting for a set of prosthetic legs. He wheels around in a simple folding wheelchair, and sometimes in a second-hand motorized chair donated by a good Samaritan.

Someday, he says, he’ll return to Iraq.

‘I could not go back’

It was more money than he’d ever seen, but Morad knew he was getting a bad deal when a representative from Titan’s insurance company, AIG, offered him $112,000 in compensation shortly before he was discharged from the Jordan hospital. Settlement documents, written in Arabic and English, said that amount “adequately covers the cost of any necessary future medical treatment.”

Morad disagreed. He wanted to immigrate to the United States and knew the costs of medical care would be high. “But the man told me ‘You are old, so this is all you will get.’ ”

Morad signed the contract. “There were some who refused to sign, and they were sent back to Iraq,” he said. Officials who have worked with injured interpreters have confirmed that the men were often pressured to sign settlements they deemed insufficient, under threat that they would be dropped off at Iraq’s border if they refused.

At that time, about 250 of Titan’s interpreters had been killed in Iraq — many executed in retribution for cooperating with U.S. forces. And when insurgents couldn’t get to the interpreters themselves, they went after their families.

“Of course, I could not go back,” Morad said.

While disappointed, he figured he could use the settlement to start a small business in the U.S. — creating a job that would keep him on his feet for only a few minutes at a time, which is as long as he can stand.

Morad arrived in America last spring. But he never got the lump sum he expected.

Instead, he receives a check for $344 every two weeks. That and the limited money he receives as a refugee — money that is about to run out — pays his rent and little more. At the rate he’s being paid, it will take Morad 13 years to receive all the money in his settlement.

‘Really disgraceful’

AIG declined to comment on how it compensates injured Iraqi interpreters. But officials familiar with the system say the benefits are dictated by the policies purchased by Titan and other defense contractors.

Most companies buy the minimum amount of coverage required by the Defense Base Act (DBA) for contractors operating alongside the military. The 67-year-old law ties compensation to a contractor’s wages — not to the cost of their future care or living expenses.

Still, California Rep. Henry Waxman is confident that insurers can and should do more. During a May hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which he chairs, Waxman complained that insurance companies have pocketed extravagant profits while the American taxpayer — who foots the cost of defense contracts — gets stuck with the bill. In one case, he noted, AIG was paid $284 million to cover contractors employed by the defense company KBR. Of that amount, just $73 million went to injured contractors.

Meanwhile, the injured “have to fight the insurance company to get their benefits,” Waxman said. “Delays and denials in paying claims are the rule

Please read more here

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Iraqi Interpreter dies of “unknown cause” after being denied benefits by DBA Insurance Company

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 26, 2011

Why was this injured contractor on Medicaid for L-3 Titan and the DBA Insurance Companies responsibility?

Friends seek to raise $15,000 to send body of Iraqi interpreter back to Baghdad for burial

He was frustrated that his service did not seem to afford the kind of respect and care that he expected of the U.S. government when he came here and he really wanted to go back to Iraq.

–Matthew LaPlante

SALT LAKE CITY –– KSL TV  September 26, 2011

At a prosthetics center in Salt Lake City, Diyar al-Bayati looks at the painful set of legs he got in Jordan. (Ramin Rahimian, Special to The Denver Post) Read more: Iraqi interpreters at loss for words - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com

Friends of an Iraqi interpreter who served with U.S. troops in the Iraq War are scrambling to raise thousands of dollars to send his body back to Baghdad for proper burial.

Diyar al-Bayati died in Salt Lake City last week, alone in his apartment, of unknown causes. He’d been living in Utah for several years — the last stop in a long and winding road.

A group of suitcases sit in a corner of the apartment of Ali Al-Amri and his wife Janae. They contain the worldly possessions of their friend Diyar al-Bayati, a former Iraqi translator for the U.S. military.

“I’m sad because he’s my friend,” Ali said. “I work with him a couple of years.”

Ali worked as Diyar’s caretaker after Diyar arrived in the U.S. in 2008. Diyar lived in Baghdad, working as a translator with military contractor L-3/Titan.

Disaster struck in 2006, as Matthew LaPlante, a former national security reporter for the Salt Lake Tribune, explained.

“He’d done 200 combat missions, rolled outside the wire with these guys 200 times and on the very last hour of his very last mission, a really large improvised explosive device, a roadside device, blew up under his Humvee,” he said. “As the story goes, he continued firing at his attackers, basically until he passed out in a pool of his own blood.”

Diyar lost both legs and one arm was mangled. He spent a year in a Jordan hospital.

Two years after the explosion, though his motorized wheelchair was destroyed en route, he arrived as a refugee in Salt Lake City, where his story attracted news coverage.

His friends describe him as strong-willed, optimistic and sociable. But his medical benefits, through the contractors insurance and Medicaid, left him frustrated, and he never got a pair of decent prosthetic legs.

“He was frustrated that his service did not seem to afford the kind of respect and care that he expected of the U.S. government when he came here and he really wanted to go back to Iraq,” LaPlante said.

Now, friends are trying to fulfill Diyar’s wish to be buried back home in Baghdad.

“I need from the people to try to help him to come to Iraq, that’s all,” Ali said. “Try to help him. I say please because nobody for him, nobody here. No his mom. No nothing.”

They need to raise $15,000 to send his body back to his mother.

“We just want to get him back home to be with his mom,” Ali said. “Let his mom know that we appreciated her son’s work.”

Diyar al-Bayati died just short of his 25th birthday.

To help raise the roughly $15,000 they need to send his body back to Iraq, friends have set up an account in his name at Wells Fargo Bank

The Republic  September 26, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — Donations are being sought by friends of a former Iraqi interpreter to send his body back to Baghdad for burial.

Twenty-four-year-old Diyar al-Bayati (dee-YAR’ all-BAY’-yah-tea) died of unknown causes last week in his apartment after living in Utah as a refugee for three years.

Al-Bayati worked as an interpreter for American troops during the Iraq War until 2006, when he lost both legs and an arm after a roadside bomb blew up under a Humvee.

Al-Bayati never qualified for the high-tech prosthetic limbs provided to injured soldiers because he worked for a private contractor.

KSL-TV reports (http://bit.ly/nGcgeX) that his friends in Utah are now trying to raise $15,000 to return al-Bayati’s body to Iraq, where his mom lives, for a proper burial

Please see the original here

Posted in AIG and CNA, Defense Base Act Insurance, Dropping the DBA Ball, Hope that I die, Iraq, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Misjudgements, Political Watch, PTSD and TBI | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

US citizen killed by Afghan at Kabul Embassy ‘CIA compound’

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 26, 2011

KABUL — A US citizen has been shot dead by an Afghan employee in a baffling attack at an annex to the US embassy used by the CIA in Kabul, officials said Monday.

The gunman was killed in the incident at the the Ariana Hotel compound late Sunday and another US citizen also wounded, the embassy said

Posted in Afghanistan, CIA, Civilian Contractors, State Department | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Nearly a year after her husband committed suicide, Air Force widow still wonders why

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 25, 2011

Melissa hates that a man that heroic is judged by friends, family and strangers. She braces herself for judgment every time she has to tell someone how Jeremy died.

NWF Daily News    September 17, 2011

MARY ESTHER —Jeremy Gibson is a casualty of war, but you won’t find his name on any memorial wall.

On a balmy Monday afternoon last Oct. 11, the Hurlburt Field Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician dialed 911, walked into his backyard and took his life.

“He shot himself in the heart,” said his wife, Melissa.

Jeremy was 31.

In the 11 months since then, Melissa has been forced to cope with blame from others and the guilt she harbors. There were no signs that Jeremy was contemplating suicide, but Melissa says she will play the “what if” game until the day she dies.

Jeremy wasn’t a complicated guy. The native of Chattanooga, Tenn., was incredibly smart, good at math and chemistry and often was misjudged as a “know-it-all.”

He knew a lot about cars and loved racing at amateur tracks. He and Melissa would go on drives in his blue Mini Cooper with no destination in mind. Jeremy always picked the winding roads for “precision driving” (aka speeding).

Melissa said he ate French fries only for the texture in his massive consumption of ketchup.

He was like a kid on Christmas when Melissa returned from the store with Blue Monster energy drinks and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

He taped and edited videos for fun and brought his wife a snow globe from every TDY.

Melissa called Jeremy her little James Bond.

His work took him to Peru with President George W. Bush and to Paris with Colin Powell. He covered the Republican National Convention and guarded the Bush family on Thanksgiving Day.

There were missions with explosives so massive that Jeremy did not bother with a bomb suit; it wouldn’t have helped.

Melissa hates that a man that heroic is judged by friends, family and strangers. She braces herself for judgment every time she has to tell someone how Jeremy died

Please read the entire story here

Posted in Department of Defense, Melt Down, Political Watch, PTSD and TBI, Suicide | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Another TBI, PTSD Trajedy

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 23, 2011

What is the situation with the thousands of contractors who are being denied diagnoses and treatment for TBI and PTSD?

How many further deaths and injuries have CNA, AIG, and ACE caused with their denials?

His widow is broken-hearted and believes the military deserves some blame for the accident for not treating the Sciple’s disorder.

Remarkably, those sentiments are echoed by Marine Corps investigators who examined the case and wrote an 860-page report with recommendations for top brass. The report says the corps should be more thorough in evaluating and treating post-traumatic stress disorder, especially in Marines with brain injuries.

“This investigation reveals a disturbing vulnerability in the support we provide our combat veterans suffering the invisible wounds of PTSD,” wrote Col. John P. Crook of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, in a Sept. 26, 2010 letter. “It is folly to expect a wounded mind to diagnose itself, yet our Marines still depend on an anemic system of self-diagnosis and self-reporting.

Marine claims brain trauma led to fatal DUI crash  September 23, 2011

(AP) TAMPA, Fla. — It seemed like an open-and-shut DUI manslaughter case. Officers said Scott Sciple drove the wrong way down a Tampa interstate in April of 2010 and plowed head-on into another car, killing the other driver. According to court records, Sciple’s blood-alcohol level was more than three times Florida’s legal limit.

But as the case unfolded, so did the unusual circumstances of Sciple’s life. He was a Marine captain who had earned three Purple Hearts for injuries and the Bronze Star for heroism in Afghanistan and Iraq. He had nearly died from blood loss, suffered severe head trauma and once dug a mass grave for Iraqi civilians.

It’s these mental scars of combat, his lawyer says, that are to blame for the accident. Brain damage and post-traumatic stress disorder caused Sciple to blackout in a dissociative episode the night of the crash, said defense attorney John Fitzgibbons. Sciple has pleaded not guilty, and his attorney will offer an insanity defense at trial.

The other driver, Pedro Rivera, left behind a wife, two children and three stepchildren. His widow is broken-hearted and believes the military deserves some blame for the accident for not treating the Sciple’s disorder

Please read the entire story here

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Insurance, Dropping the DBA Ball, Injured Contractors, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, PTSD and TBI, Racketeering, Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Bombs’ hidden impact: The brain war

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 23, 2011

Sharon Weinberger at NatureNews  September 21, 2011

Wartime explosions may be creating an epidemic of brain damage — and a major challenge for scientists.

an increasing body of evidence suggests that the repeated concussions have left them with an invisible, subcellular-level form of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that not only impairs their day-to-day functioning, but also increases their long-term risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases

To Burt, the blasts he experienced in Afghanistan eventually became a kind of music. The detonation of C4 and other such military-grade explosives felt like extremely high notes — painful, yet over quickly. But blasts from bombs made out of fertilizer — a favourite of Afghan insurgents — were like standing next to a speaker at a rock concert: the dull bass thuds didn’t necessarily hurt, but they would reverberate through his body like a wave, and stay with him for a long time afterwards.

They’re with him still. Burt, who asks that his real name not be used, spent four months as a tactical adviser to a US military bomb-disposal unit in Afghanistan, during which he was within 50 metres of a detonating improvised explosive device (IED) more than 18 times. His sleeping problems began even before he left. So did the headaches, the ringing in his ears and the nausea. He started to forget things — a problem that got even worse after he returned home. Burt would find himself in a room in his house and wonder why he was there. One time, he told his wife they should try a new restaurant in town. She replied that they had eaten there with friends just a few days before

As recently as two years ago, this constellation of symptoms might have been diagnosed as a classic case of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a psychological condition that can be caused by the constant stress of being in combat. But Burt, now on medical leave, blames those low notes. He is convinced that the body-shaking blasts did something to his brain. And many doctors, medical researchers and military officials have come to believe he is right.

The visible toll of insurgent-made IEDs has been awful enough. In the ten years since military operations began in Afghanistan and then Iraq, IEDs have killed more than 3,000 US and allied troops, and wounded roughly ten times that number. But many more troops have been exposed to multiple blasts and not suffered any visible physical injuries. Like Burt, they often report an array of symptoms, ranging from sleep disturbance to problems concentrating. And an increasing body of evidence suggests that the repeated concussions have left them with an invisible, subcellular-level form of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that not only impairs their day-to-day functioning, but also increases their long-term risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases.

Please read the entire report here

Posted in AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Injured Contractors, PTSD and TBI | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Statement Concerning Filing of Amended Class Action Tax Misclassification Against Xe Services (formerly Blackwater) on Behalf of Personal Security Specialists for Loss of Benefits and Withholding, Expenses, Penalties, and Treble Damag

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 21, 2011

Scott Bloch files Amended Complaint against  Blackwater on behalf of thousands of former employees for unlawful, fraudulent and unconscionable treatment of employees in fraudulent misclassification as independent contractors

Washington DC  September 21, 2011

 Since 2007, Blackwater Industries, which has changed its name to Xe Services, has employed over 10,000 personal security specialists to perform operations in Iraq and Afghanistan under lucrative contracts with departments of the United States Government including the State Department and CIA. While employing these individuals, many of whom are decorated veterans of the armed services including Special Forces, Army Rangers, Navy Seals, Blackwater sought to avoid millions of dollars in taxes, withholding, and payments of benefits to these employees by classifying them improperly as independent contractors.

Yesterday, Scott Bloch filed an amended complaint in the class action lawsuit on behalf of four former security specialists, who were injured while working for Blackwater, in order to recover their payment of social security, unemployment insurance, and unpaid benefits and state and local withholding and unemployment insurance, and other unspecified damages. The action is brought on their own behalf and thousands of others who have worked for Blackwater and its newly named Xe Services. The action seeks $240,000,000 in damages for lost benefits, overtime, treble damages and punitive damages, as well as additional amounts as proved for the class of specialists.

The suit also states that one of the representative plaintiffs already had a determination from the IRS that Blackwater misclassified him as an independent contractor. “The IRS already determined in the case of one of my clients that he should have been classified as an employee,“ said Bloch. “Now thousands of people will have to file amended returns. Thousands of people will likely be entitled to benefits they were denied due to the misclassification, including payment of their employer share of pension, health and disability insurance premiums, and other plans that Blackwater filed with the government for its employees, promising it would not discriminate against those employees as they did here.”

“Blackwater made hundreds of millions of dollars from taxpayers and hired thousands of former veterans of military service and police officers. They also had in their ranks Federal Agents, such as current employees of the FBI on leave of absence. They were hired as security specialists in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Bloch. “It is a grave injustice to them who were mistreated and left without any health insurance or other benefits for their families, and left to fend for themselves in paying into Social Security and Medicare. They laid down their lives to protect dignitaries and carry out duties in support of wars for America, and they deserve better than this. Many of these same men risked their lives to protect everyone from the President of the United States to U.S. Senators, Congressman, U.S. Diplomats, to Foreign Presidential & Diplomatic Figures in one of the most dangerous places on the planet.”

One of the Plaintiffs guarded such dignitaries as the just assassinated Former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani as well as current Secretary of State and then Senator Hillary Clinton.

“Blackwater acted illegally and unconscionably toward these brave individuals,” said Bloch. ”Through their fraud as pointed out in the Amended Complaint, they avoided overtime for security workers who worked sometimes 12-16 hours a day 6 days a week. They were forced to sign agreements they never read and were not given time to read and not given copies, which took away valuable rights and were unlawful in their terms.”

Read full PRESS RELEASE Amended Complaint against Xe Blackwater here.

Contact Scott J. Bloch, PA:

Scott Bloch, 202-496-1290

Posted in Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Attorneys, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Base Act Lawyers, Follow the Money, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Political Watch, State Department | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

After Injury, The Battle Begins – House Oversight Committee – 2009-06-18 –

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 21, 2011

Editors Note:  Gary Pitts the attorney  is pictured here only by circumstance.  This is in no way, would never be, an endorsement of him by the Defense Base Act Compensation Blog or any of it’s contributors.

Posted in AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Defense Base Act Lawyers, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, Iraq, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Political Watch, PTSD and TBI, Racketeering, State Department | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Civilian Contractor or Mercenary? Who do you work for, What is your job?

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 19, 2011

Guest  Commentary September 19, 2011

In response to Civilian Contractor or Mercenary?

Wow.. that pretty much proves everyone (Our Government and News Sources) have been misleading the public doesn’t it?

“(F) Hs not been sent by a State which is not a party to the conflict on official duty”

Well the US Govt sent most of the guys and most of the guys were in the military, active or reserve

“(D) is neither a national of a party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a party to the conflict”

Well, if you are working for your own Govt.. it is clear your not a Mercenary!!

A mercenary is someone who works for a “Foreign Govt”. Most had govt orders and some had Diplomatic Passports. Explain that one!!!

You need to ask yourself why our own Government would allow such a misconception to continue on for so long?

I will tell you why.. remember the Blackwater shooting in September 2007 they so widely publicized? Well if they admitted it was really a diplomatic mission from the State Department that was involved, how would that look diplomatically?? I will tell you.. not very good. So they blame it on an “Evil Private Company” that is scolded and is “Put out of business” so the other countries think we are being tough… then that company opens under another name and all the workers are seamlessly transferred over and continue working.. Hummm

Lets take a closer look.. really what is the difference between a US Soldier and a “Contractor”

1) Volunteered for service: US Soldier (YES) Contractor (YES)

2) Received payment for services: US Soldier (YES) Contractor (YES)
by the US govt directly or indirectly
(“did it for money, or Country”)

3) US Govt provided weapons and
equipment: US Soldier (YES) Contractor (YES)

4) Had to sign a contract to Join: US Soldier (YES) Contractor (YES)

5) Had to have a US Govt Security
Clearance: US Soldier (Not Required) Contractor (YES)

6) Took orders from the US Govt: US Soldier (YES) Contractor (YES)

7) Had to take an Oath and swear
allegiance to the US Govt: US Soldier (YES) Contractor (YES)
8) Was paid directly or indirectly
by US Tax payers: US Soldier (YES) Contractor (YES)

9) Had a term of enlistment or contract: US Soldier (YES) Contractor (YES)

10) If wounded in a war zone would be
medically evac’d by the US Govt: US Soldier (YES) Contractor (YES)

11) could carry a loaded firearm
anywhere including inside the
US Embassy: US Soldier (Some) Contractor (YES)

12) Provided medical care by the
Military Hospitals inside the
war zone: US Soldier (YES) Contractor (YES)

13) Have full access to Military
APO/AFO mail system: US Soldier (YES) Contractor (YES)

14) Traveled by US Military Aircraft: US Soldier (YES) Contractor (YES)

15) Officially conducted offensive
operations: US Soldier (YES) Contractor (NO)

16) Officially conducted defensive
operations: US Soldier (YES) Contractor (YES)

17) Had access to Military Commissary
PX/BX and health and welfare
privileges: US Soldier (YES) Contractor (YES)

18) Had the ability to detain anyone
suspected of committing a crime or
threat against US or coalition forces: US Soldier (YES) Contractor (YES)

19) Authorized by the US Govt the use
of deadly force: US Soldier (YES) Contractor (YES)

20) Authorized the use of Deadly force
against fellow Americans in the event
a dignitary (Diplomat, Congressman
Senator or Presidential figure) was
in imminent danger: US Soldier (YES) Contractor (YES)

I can go on and on… So can you please tell me the difference?? Most of you out there are probably now realizing that you have been in the ether, and now are beginning to realize it, someone didn’t tell us the truth!!!

Posted in Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Department of Defense, Mercenary, Political Watch, State Department, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Civilian Contractor or Mercenary by International Humanitarian Law ?

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 19, 2011

Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977.

Art 47. Mercenaries

1. A mercenary shall not have the right to be a combatant or a prisoner of war.

2. A mercenary is any person who:

(a) is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict;

(b) does, in fact, take a direct part in the hostilities;

(c) is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a Party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that Party;

(d) is neither a national of a Party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a Party to the conflict;

(e) is not a member of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict; and

(f) has not been sent by a State which is not a Party to the conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Mercenary | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Kabul Attack Underlines Importance of Embassy Security

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 14, 2011

 

Despite all ArmorGroup is still adverstising for this position

by Jake Wiens at POGO September 14, 2011

Armed with rockets and machine guns, a group of militants yesterday launched a sophisticated attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul from a partially constructed building about half a mile away, reports the New York Times.

The attack comes just months after two separate attacks rocked Afghanistan’s capital. The first was a June attack on the famed Inter-Continental Hotel, which reportedly claimed the lives of at least 10 people. Following that attack, at least nine people were killed and dozens more were injured when Taliban militants, dressed as Afghan women, detonated car bombs at the British Council on Afghanistan’s Independence Day in late August.

Although no embassy personnel were harmed during today’s attack on the Embassy, the brazen midday assault, coupled with the previous attacks, is a reminder that security of the Embassy remains paramount.

Back in 2009, POGO wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to raise concerns about the State Department’s management of Armor Group North America (AGNA), the contractor responsible for guarding the Embassy in Kabul.

The letter garnered international attention largely because of the “Lord of the Flies” environment depicted in photographs and videos released by POGO. But lost in much of the coverage was the threat to the Embassy’s security posed by State’s ineffectual oversight of AGNA.

Among the security vulnerabilities documented by POGO in 2009:

• Chronic guard turnover which, according to POGO sources, may have been as “high as 100 percent annually”;

• Nearly two-thirds of the guard force could not “adequately speak English,” which raised concerns that the guards could not communicate effectively if under attack; and

• Guard shortages resulted in “14-hour-day work cycles extending for as many as eight weeks in a row”

A subsequent report by the State Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) verified and expanded upon many of POGO’s findings. The report, published in September 2010, found that “AGNA has been unable to maintain the number of guards or the quality level required by the contract.” The OIG also found that “To manage staffing shortfalls, AGNA hired and put on duty Nepalese guards without verifiable experience, training, or background investi¬gations, which violates its contract” and that AGNA “firearms instructors qualified guards who did not actually meet the minimum qualification score on the firing range.”

This July, AGNA paid $7.5 million to the U.S. government to settle a qui tam lawsuit by a former employee who alleged AGNA’s performance in 2007 and 2008 put the security of the U.S. Embassy at risk.

AGNA’s parent company said the settlement was made solely “to avoid costly and disruptive litigation—and that there has been no finding or admission of liability.” The parent company, WSI, also stated, “At all times, the Embassy was secure.”

In an attempt to replace AGNA, the State Department last September selected EOD Technology (EODT) to take over security of the Embassy. But shortly following that announcement, a report by the Senate Armed Service Committee (SASC) documented both EODT and AGNA’s use of warlords with possible ties to the Taliban to staff their respective guard forces. A couple months later, EODT’s offices were raided by federal agents in connection with a separate investigation into “potential export violations.”

Following news of that raid, POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian argued that security of the Embassy should be an inherently governmental function, carried out by government employees rather than contractors. “If there’s a better argument for making this mission an inherently governmental function, this situation is it,” she said. “We’ve got one discredited company to be replaced by another discredited company,” she added.

Following a delay, EODT was scheduled to take over from AGNA this May, a State Department spokesperson told Mother Jones magazine. But in response to a POGO query, an AGNA spokesperson confirmed that AGNA is still responsible for Embassy security and also that the Embassy was “part of the insurgent citywide attack in Kabul today.”

There is no indication, at this point, that inadequate security contributed to yesterday’s attack. But as the Commission on Wartime Contracting (CWC) recommended in its final report, the government should evaluate the risk of using private security contractors at each static-security site. And if it’s determined that the risk is too high, the security contractors should be phased out. Yesterday’s attack presents an unwelcome reminder that it may be time to reevaluate the security situation at the Embassy in Kabul.

Please read the entire article at POGO here

Posted in Armorgroup, Civilian Contractors, Political Watch, State Department | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

PTSD’S Worst-Case Scenario

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 9, 2011

At an Army base near Seattle, soldiers are committing suicide, murdering their families—and in one case, waterboarding their own kids. Winston Ross reports from a base on the brink

Winston Ross at The Daily Beast  August 9, 2011

Back when Jonathan Gilbert was still in middle school, he attended his cousin’s graduation ceremony from the U.S. Army’s basic training, watching men in neatly pressed uniforms marching, saluting one another, and smiling.

“That was it for him,” Gilbert’s mother, Karrie Champion, tells The Daily Beast. “He knew what he wanted to do. He enlisted before he was out of high school.”

The boy had no idea what he was getting into—that he’d wind up in Iraq, driving a Stryker, watching the unit in the caravan ahead of him roll off a bridge and land upside down. Two soldiers were killed, one of them decapitated. Nineteen-year-old Jonathan helped clean up the body parts.

This event and his upcoming redeployment, Gilbert’s mom believes, is what led her son to kill himself on July 28 at the age of 21, forcing a pistol to his head and pulling the trigger after a violent struggle with a fellow soldier who apparently tried to stop him. It was the 11th “suspicious death” (the Army has yet to officially declare any of them suicides) of a soldier stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord this year. Assuming they’re all ruled suicides, that tops the previous record set the year before, of nine. The year before that, there were nine suicides, too.

Champion, along with a growing legion of modern-day war veterans and their families, says it’s long past time the Army took notice of a tragic, preventable epidemic—one that seems especially acute at Lewis-McChord.

The base, an hour or so south of Seattle, was named by the government-owned, independent news source Stars and Stripes last year as the most troubled in the military, thanks to an “incredible” number of incidents rooted in post-traumatic stress disorder, says Joseph Carter, a former Army sergeant with two Iraq tours under his belt.

Please read the entire story here

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

 
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