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Archive for December, 2011

Mark Fisher, Triple Canopy, Never Going Back to Iraq

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 31, 2011

The Fiji Times December 31, 2011  See also at MsSparky

MARK Fisher is never going back to Iraq. Eighteen days of mental torture at the hands of the Iraqi military and the real threat of being executed at any time still replays through his mind.

Mr Fisher, who was freed by the Iraqi military after US intervention and flew home on Thursday, said he thought his life was over when soldiers ordered him and his team to kneel facing a wall and to put their hands behind their heads.

“I thought, ‘this is it’. The only thoughts going through my head were non-stop prayers. No amount of money is worth going through what happened to me and my team and no amount of training can ever prepare a person for what we experienced,” he said in the safety of his Votualevu home in Nadi yesterday.

Despite being set free on December 27, after spending Christmas in an Iraqi military cell, Mr Fisher has trouble sleeping.

The former Republic of Fiji Military Forces sergeant began working in 2009 as a contractor with Triple Canopy Incorporated ù a private company contracted by the US State Department to remove military equipment from forward operating bases (FOB) in Iraq after the US military pullout.

“That’s what we were doing when we got detained. We had just cleared a FOB when we were stopped five minutes down the road and taken to a military camp. Our captors said they had to make sure that we had the authority to remove the equipment we had with us,” the 41-year old explained.

“As far as we were concerned, we had the green light and the appropriate clearance to do so but the Iraqis thought otherwise.”

During the ordeal, Mr Fisher and his team of seven men, which included Americans and Iraqi nationals, were ordered to eat food that was thrown on the floor.

“We refused to eat it because the cell was filthy. Instead we ate fruits and bribed some of the soldiers to give us chocolates,” he said.

Although their phones were confiscated, Mr Fisher said a colonel, who was sympathetic towards them after experiencing being detained by Saddam Hussein’s regime, allowed them the use of his telephone to contact friends and relatives.

“The Americans called their embassy but I called my wife, Mariah and informed her of what had happened,” said Mr Fisher.

Mrs Fisher said she grew concerned after not hearing from her husband for a few days.

“We normally communicate via texting and when I hadn’t received anything from him for a few days, I knew something was up. When he called and told me he was detained and no one from Triple Canopy had come to see him and his men, I got really angry,” she said.

When she was finally contacted by Triple Canopy, an official said Mr Fisher and his men had been detained but they were being well looked after and housed in warm quarters.

“We were in a cold cell with no mattresses on the floor and it was winter,” Mr Fisher said.

“There was no heating and no blankets and we had to huddle to keep warm.”

When asked what got him through the 18-day ordeal and mental torture, the father of five said it was God and his family.

“The prayers and my faith plus the thoughts of my wife and five children kept me going, hoping for freedom,” he said.

The Triple Canopy team was released after US Congressman Peter King took up the case.

“If it wasn’t for him, I think we would still be there or worse still, who knows what could have happened to us.

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contracotrs Detained, Iraq, Political Watch, Triple Canopy | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Physical Illness and PTSD appear to be linked

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 30, 2011

 “Mental and physical health are integrally linked,” Bromet said in a statement. “It is not always obvious which one is the driver, but, in the end, what matters is that both mental and physical health are recognized and treated with equal care and respect.”
Kristina Fiore Medpage Today and ABC News  December 29, 2011

Among responders to the World Trade Center disaster, there appears to be a relationship between respiratory problems and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), researchers found. In a statistical model, PTSD mediated the association between exposure at the site and respiratory symptoms among both police officers and other types of responders, Evelyn Bromet, PhD, of Stony Brook University in New York, and colleagues reported online in Psychological Medicine. The results suggest “an indirect association of exposure with respiratory symptoms through PTSD, a finding that mirrors research conducted with Vietnam veterans,” the researchers wrote.

“Mental and physical health are integrally linked,” Bromet said in a statement. “It is not always obvious which one is the driver, but, in the end, what matters is that both mental and physical health are recognized and treated with equal care and respect.”

Respiratory illness and PTSD are both signature health problems among rescue workers who responded to the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, but the relationship between the two conditions isn’t clear.

So Bromet and her colleagues assessed 8,508 police officers and 12,333 other types of responders who were evaluated at the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program between July 16, 2002, and Sept. 11, 2008.

They used structural equation modeling (SEM) to explore patterns of association between exposures and other risk factors.

Overall, fewer police than other responders had probable PTSD (5.9% versus 23%) and respiratory symptoms (22.5% versus 28.4%), although pulmonary function was similar between the two groups.

They found that PTSD and respiratory symptoms were moderately correlated for both groups (r=0.28 for police and 0.27 for other responders).

Exposure was more strongly associated with respiratory symptoms (r=0.14 to 0.24), and showed less of an association with probable PTSD (r=0.07 to 0.12). Exposure was only weakly associated with lung function, they reported.

Regarding the SEM models, Bromet and colleagues found that those in which the association between exposure and respiratory problems were mediated in part by PTSD showed a “better absolute fit” in both groups of responders, leading them to conclude that the association between exposure and respiratory symptoms may be mediated through PTSD.

It may be that PTSD, which is associated with immunologic function, can increase pulmonary inflammation, resulting in respiratory abnormalities, or the cognitive processes associated with the condition can increase the perception of respiratory symptoms, they wrote.

On the other hand, chronic respiratory symptoms could serve as reminders of traumatic events and increase PTSD rates, they wrote.

Further longitudinal studies are needed to disentangle the possibilities, they said

Please read the entire article at Medpage

Posted in Burn Pits, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act Insurance, Injured Contractors, PTSD and TBI, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Contractor Stabs Wife, tries to burn down home

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 30, 2011

His own attorney even filed paperwork saying she’s worried about Parker’s mental well-being and wanted him evaluated

Parker’s attorney confirms the husband and wife both worked as civilian contractors in Iraq. Neighbors say when they came back, everything seemed normal. Thursday’s alleged stabbing and fire was the last thing they expected.

HOUSTON (KTRK) –December 29, 2011

Houston police have arrested a man they say stabbed his wife and tried to set his own home on fire. Neighbors and investigators say this was not the first time there have been problems at that home.

Investigators are still trying to sort out the details that left Craig Parker and his wife both injured. Parker’s wife has been treated at Memorial Hermann Northwest and was expected to be released late in the day. Craig was treated and released from the hospital, but he remains in police custody.

The fire trucks and ambulance shattered the early morning quiet along the 6500 block of TC Jester. Police say Craig Parker stabbed his wife, then poured gasoline around their home before attempting to set it on fire.

James LaGrone lives next door.

“I didn’t see nothing,” he said. “I’m standing in my driveway trying to wonder what was going on. I know there’s a big commotion there, but I don’t know what’s going on.”

Firefighters quickly put out the small fire, and Parker’s wife was taken to the hospital. Initially, firefighters didn’t know where to find Parker.

“We didn’t know for sure where he was,” explained Houston Fire Department District Chief Michael Thorp. “He reportedly was still in the house. As it turns out, he was. He bailed out of a window.”

Parker was treated and released from the hospital, but the alleged stabbing wasn’t his only brush with the law. Court documents show last June he was accused of kicking his wife. His own attorney even filed paperwork saying she’s worried about Parker’s mental well-being and wanted him evaluated

Parker’s attorney confirms the husband and wife both worked as civilian contractors in Iraq. Neighbors say when they came back, everything seemed normal. Thursday’s alleged stabbing and fire was the last thing they expected.

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

Appointment of Miranda Chiu DIRECTOR, DLHWC

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 28, 2011

This news release at the DoL’s website is NOT dated but this was a recent appointment though she has been in the position for nearly a year now.

Miranda Chiu  is much appreciated by the Defense Attorneys

Dropping the DBA Ball

She did not even implement her own policies, regulations, and procedures

Looks like DBA Claimants are in for a lot more of the same bias in favor of the insurance companies if the last nine years serve as an indicator

The Office of Workers’ Comp Programs announces the appointment of Ms. Miranda Chiu as the Director of the Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation. Ms. Chiu has served as Acting Director of the Longshore Division for the last eight months, and as the Division’s Chief of the Branch of Policies, Regulations and Procedures for eight years before that.

Ms. Chiu has extensive experience in Longshore claims. She worked in various capacities in the Longshore arena for thirty years, beginning as a Claims Examiner in the San Francisco Longshore district office, then as a maritime claims supervisor in private industry and a legal assistant at a major Longshore law firm, before taking on her duties as Branch Chief in 2002.

Ms. Chiu holds a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature, and has published a lead article in ‘The Longshore Textbook’, 2nd and 3rd Editions. She is a frequent speaker at industry seminars and educational events and has won numerous awards for her work at the Department of Labor

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, Injured Contractors, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Political Watch, PTSD and TBI, War Hazards Act | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Contractors also lost in the Iraq War

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 25, 2011

Letter at The Daily Advance Elizabeth City NC  December 24, 2011

Kudos for your recent editorial regarding the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. You captured the ambiguity that Americans experience as the troops come home. On the one hand, we are thankful for those who have safely returned.

On the other hand, we can not help but wonder if the sacrifice in lives and treasure was justified — particularly given the initially erroneous and changing justifications for the war from the Bush administration.

I take issue, however, with your reporting of American casualties. In addition to the thousands of servicemen who lost their lives or suffered devastating wounds, there were hundreds if not thousands of contractors who were also casualties of the conflict. Accurate figures hard to come by — apparently as a deliberate policy of the U.S. State Department in order to avoid public scrutiny of our extensive use of contractors in this war.

Some might argue that contractors, who were in Iraq for economic reasons, are somehow less patriotic and less deserving of our concern than our military heroes. However, the reality of our voluntary military in conjunction with the dismal job market in recent years has no doubt led many young people to enlist, at least in part, for economic reasons. This is not to question the patriotism of those in the military but to point out that economic issues ultimately led many of our people to wind up in Iraq — and many did not come back alive and many came back severely wounded and scarred.

Many of those contractors are our friends and neighbors — employed by Academi — formerly known as Blackwater and headquartered in Moyock. We owe a debt of gratitude to all of our fellow citizens who served in Iraq whether military or contractor — in spite of our lingering doubts about why we were there.

DAVID G. GARRATY

Currituck

Posted in Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Injured Contractors, Iraq, KBR, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Political Watch, PTSD and TBI, State Department | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Department of Labor Refusal to find CNA in 18(a) default of order

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 22, 2011

As referenced in the previous post Department of Labor District Offices Dead in the Water Scott Bloch filed a request to find CNA in 18(a) Default of an Order on behalf of Merlin Clark on September 16, 2011.

Merlin Clark has been denied medical by CNA since 2005 after being blown up in 2003.  An order signed by an ALJ and issued by the Jacksonville District Director in October of 2010 has not been complied with.

After giving CNA nearly a year to comply this request was filed just prior to the one year deadline for doing so.  It’s not that they did not have the opportunity for nearly year to comply, if not five prior years to live up to their contractual obligations to the taxpayer.

Yet this 18 (a) Request for a Default has been denied due process.  Three additional months of non compliance on top of nearly a year.  No attempts by CNA to bs their way out until this issue was posted here on the blog.  They know there is no consequence to them when they do not comply with orders.

Instead of issuing a supplemental order  and allowing Mr. Clark to exercise his rights outside of this broken Administrative Law System the District Director has taken it upon himself to attempt to mediate this already decided claim yet again.

Where does this Not Very Merry Go Round stop, if ever?

Why does the Department of Labor repeatedly side with the insurance company with no regard to the health and well being of injured war zone contractors and their families?

Who is benefiting from this?

Posted in AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Delay, Deny, Department of Labor, Follow the Money, Hope that I die, Injured Contractors, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Misjudgements, OALJ, Political Watch, PTSD and TBI | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Department of Labor District Offices Dead in the Water

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 16, 2011

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, DBA Attorneys Fees, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, Follow the Money, Injured Contractors, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Melt Down, Political Watch, PTSD and TBI, Ronco Consultilng, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Declassified KBR Contract shows how it gets a free pass for Willful Misconduct

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 16, 2011

Craig Malisow at Houston Press December 16, 2011

A KBR government contract protected the company from liability for injuries or deaths caused by willful misconduct, according to recently declassified Army documents.

Although the existence of the clause was revealed as a part of a lawsuit filed in 2009, the actual document remained classified until this week. The contract is a key point in the federal suit, filed in Texas by Houston attorney Mike Doyle on behalf of 136 Indiana, South Carolina and West Virginia National Guardsmen (and British Royal Air Force officers) who were allegedly exposed to cancer-causing chemicals while providing security at an Iraqi water treatment plant in 2003.

Two Guardsmen have died, seven have developed respiratory system tumors and others are experiencing serious respiratory issues as a result of the exposure, according to the suit. (Doyle is also involved in a sister suit in Oregon, involving 34 Oregon National Guard soldiers.)

The indemnity clause requires the government to cover the cost of litigation against KBR, even if the company (then still a part of Halliburton) was at fault. In the water treatment plant suit, the guardsmen claim they were exposed to a highly toxic chemical called hexavalent chromium, and that KBR lied to the soldiers about the chemical’s presence and any associated health risks.

KBR has denied any wrongdoing.

Approximately 1,000 Army soldiers and civilian employees were exposed to the chemical while working at the Qarmat Ali facility in 2003, “and many remained unaware of their exposure until 2008,” according to a September 2011 report by the Department of Defense’s Office of Inspector General.

“Contractor recognition of, and response to, the health hazard represented by [the chemical] contamination, once identified at the Qarmat Ali facility, was delayed,” the report states. “The delay occurred because KBR did not fully comply with occupational safety and health standards required by the contract….”

However, the indemnity clause appears to absolve KBR of any financial liability. This prompted Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer to co-author an amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 calling for the Pentagon to notify Congress of future indemnity clauses.

“We already know from what happened at KBR’s Qarmat Ali project that these secret bailout deals are bad for our soldiers and a bad deal for taxpayers, and anything that puts more protections in place is a good step,” Doyle said of the act’s amendment

Please see the original here

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

Include US Civilian Contractors in Deaths/Injured in Iraq and Afghanistan

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 15, 2011

The President of the United States: Include U.S Civilian Contractors in Deaths/Injured in Iraq & Afghanistan

Please go here to sign the petition at Change.org

Why This Is Important

As Americans, we all feel a sense of patriotism when it comes to our great country. The men and women who chose to go to Iraq and Afghanistan in a civilian capacity to serve our country are NOT included in the numbers when they tally the numbers of Deaths and Injured. Why should they be included you may ask? Why should they be excluded I ask.

When a civilian contractor is killed or injured the American people are paying the bill. Survivor benefits, worker’s compensation, funeral expenses, medical expenses etc are all paid for by the American people. While the multi-billion dollar private military companies like (DynCorp, KBR, Xe, etc.) sit back and continue to reap the benefits of the continued international conflicts.

If you know a civilian contractor who is currently employed, has been injured, has been killed please sign our petition. Although many of these men and women who chose to serve our country in the civilian capacity are retired military personnel, they receive no acknowldgement of their sacrafices when they are injured or killed.

Instead our Government wants to hide these brave men and women and not include these losses in the numbers of Americans who have sacrificed

Please go to Change.org to sign the petition

Posted in ACE, Afghanistan, AIG and CNA, Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Department of Labor, Dyncorp, Iraq, Political Watch | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Bragg soldier killed wife, himself

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 13, 2011

WRAL.com December 13, 2011

Raeford, N.C. — A Fort Bragg soldier who recently returned from Afghanistan shot and killed his wife before turning a gun on himself, Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin said Tuesday.

Deputies responded to 115 Patolly Place after receiving a 911 call late Saturday and found two people dead inside from gunshot wounds, Peterkin said.

Investigators determined that Seth Andrews, 24, killed Hillary Morgan Andrews and then committed suicide.

According to information that Fort Bragg provided to investigators, Seth Andrews returned from a one-year deployment to Afghanistan between Nov. 26 and Nov. 29.

The case remains under investigation

Please see the original here

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

Burned by the Boss

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 12, 2011

by Mark Thompson at CNN’s Battleland

There are lots of signs the nation, now amid its longest war ever in Afghanistan – and just finishing up a second lengthy military campaign in Iraq – has been fighting too long. Sure, the budget deficits are one sign. So is the human carnage, both among innocent civilians in both lands, but also among the 2.4 million U.S. troops who have fought there. Beyond the 6,300 Americans killed and 40,000 wounded are the broken families, PTSD and suicides the wars have triggered.

But here’s a new one: 28 firefighters who went to work in the war zones for private contractors KBR and Wackenhut claim they were shortchanged by their employers.

They have filed a class-action suit on behalf of some 2,000 firefighters and maintain they routinely “were required to provide 24/7 fire protection” but paid for only 12 hours. When the firefighters complained, they allegedly were told “that they were lucky to have jobs, that they would be fired and sent back to America, and that many were waiting in line for their jobs,” their suit alleges. “Various phrases were used as shorthand for threats to fire if the Plaintiffs continued to complain, such as `chicken or beef,’ which referred to the dining choices one had on the flight home from Iraq.”

It’s a safe bet the contractors will deny wrongdoing, and it’s a safe bet the firefighters’ claim for $100 million is excessive. But what’s also clear is that any war that generates a need for private firefighting forces – and then drags on so long that the firefighters become aggrieved enough to believe they have a case that they were underpaid – is a war that has gone on too long for the firefighters, the contractors, the military and the country. Not to mention the taxpayers

Please see the original post at Time’s Battlefield

For more on the Class Action Lawsuit see www.scottblochlaw.com

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Iraq, KBR, Wackenut | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Military contractor death is a loss for Oklahoma soldiers in Afghanistan

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 5, 2011

KRMG Talk Radio Tulsa by April Hill  December 5, 2011

Spc. Douglas Pugh, of Company A, 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team scans the mountainside on Oct. 2, as fellow troops move through the Sangar Valley. The Afghan National Army and the 45th IBCT moved through the valley to dissipate insurgent activity, but to also connect with the people

We had another recent death in Afghanistan.

This time, it was a Tulsa man who works as a military contractor.

Bob McCullough had a sudden heart attack at 55-years-old while working for DynCorp.

Some of our KRMG listeners may think that sounds sad, but wonder why his death is making news.

There’s one big reason.

He played an important role for our Oklahoma soldiers and their families, and they might never have heard his name until now.

By all accounts, McCullough was a mechanical magician who could fix anything.

He recently moved from Iraq to Afghanistan.

His job was to make the military vehicles mine resistant and ambush protected.

He had just started putting reinforced armor on the bottom of each one.

The roadside bombs under the military vehicles are the reason we have lost so many Oklahoma soldiers in recent months.

His efforts were working to save our soldiers overseas.

In the missions with vehicles with McCullough’s armor, only one soldier came back with an injury, and that was only a broken ankle.

His memorial service was Saturday at Victory Christian Church.

He was so well know by the soldiers overseas, that they held a military funeral for him in Afghanistan

A DynCorp representative spoke to family and friends at Saturday’s service.

She said, “They held a memorial for him at Kandahar Airforce Base on Novermber 30th, and it was attended by a lot of people. You guys should be really proud of him.”

McCullough leaves behind his wife Debbie and five children.

A medical examiner’s office on the east coast is performing an autopsy.

Please see the original here

Posted in Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Dyncorp, Iraq | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Civilians often don’t get PTSD help

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 1, 2011

Experts say if you’re having difficulty sleeping, experiencing nightmares, or having unexplained bursts of anger, you may be showing signs of PTSD and should probably seek professional help quickly – before you harm yourself or someone else.

Please see the video here

FAYETTEVILLE (WTVD) — Troops returning from war zones go through a rigorous reentry screening to check for signs of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.

But, there are thousands of civilian contractors returning from Iraq and Afghanistan without any check for mental health problems

Alice Redding is a computer systems engineer. She has spent more than a year in Iraq and Afghanistan as a civilian contractor setting up servers and computer systems for soldiers.

Redding has flown with the troops into combat zones wearing a flack jack and helmet and has come under fire. Now that’s she’s back home in Fayetteville, it’s emotionally tough.

“I would wake up and realize I’m not there anymore. But it would take me a moment to realize that. And speaking to some of my friends that are retirees from the military, that do have PTSD, they recognize – they say hey you’ve got a touch of PTSD,” she explained.

Redding recalls coming under attack in Afghanistan.

“The last encounter was recently – about three months ago. While I was there, a rocket came. It was in the middle of the day. I was walking to one location and you know it’s close when you hear the whistle sound,” she said.

But while there is help available for soldiers returning from combat zones, civilians mostly don’t get that kind of support.

“We don’t have any statistics of who’s exactly got Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. We just don’t know. We don’t know if they’re committing violent crimes. We don’t know if they’re having problems with relationships,” said Redding.

Experts say if you’re having difficulty sleeping, experiencing nightmares, or having unexplained bursts of anger, you may be showing signs of PTSD and should probably seek professional help quickly – before you harm yourself or someone else.

While some military contractors provide mental health assessments, the majority of civilians who volunteer to head to combat zones are expected to seek their own civilian mental health care.

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act Insurance, Dropping the DBA Ball, Interviews with Injured War Zone Contractors, PTSD and TBI | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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