Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

Posts Tagged ‘Defense of Freedom Medal’

Ore. woman killed in Iraq to be honored with medal

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 29, 2012

The Daily News.com  June 29, 2012

Seven years after she was killed by a roadside bomb, an Oregon woman advising the Iraqi police will be honored with a medal.

The Oregonian reports (http://bit.ly/MdlnJD) that Sen. Ron Wyden will present it to Debi Klecker’s brother, Greg, in a ceremony July 6 at Bend.

It is the civilian Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom.

Klecker worked two decades for the Marion County sheriff’s office and then on the board of the state public safety training agency. She had moved to Central Oregon and was a contractor for DynCorp International when she died at 51.

She wasn’t eligible for the posthumous award of the Purple Heart, a military medal. A campaign in recent years by family members and others resulted in the civilian medal.

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Defense of Freedom Medal | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Defense of Freedom Medal Held Hostage by The Defense Base Act

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 31, 2012

WHY HAVE I NOT RECEIVED THE DEFENSE OF FREEDOM MEDAL?

The Defense of Freedom Medal is an award held to be the equivalent of the Purple Heart and is awarded to Civilian Contractors injured in the war zones. 

One question we get here repeatedly is why have I not received the Defense of Freedom Medal?   The question comes from severely disabled Civilian Contractors wounded in horrific explosions and insurgent attacks.

WHO IS HOLDING YOUR MEDAL HOSTAGE?

The company you work for is responsible for requesting  that you receive the medal and providing the documentation that you have indeed suffered a qualifying injury.

As all Injured War Zone Contractors know the minute you must file a Defense Base Act Claim you are automatically placed in an adversarial relationship with your employer.   Your Employer and the Defense Base Act Insurance Company are considered equal entities in the battle you have entered for your medical care and indemnity.

Your Employer is required to assist the insurance company in denying your claim.  Under the War Hazards Act the Employer/Carrier must prove to the WHA Tribunal that they have diligently tried to deny your claim.

It appears that your Defense of Freedom Medals could be held hostage by your Employers due to the adversarial relationship the Defense Base Act has created.

When KBR, DynCorp, Blackwater, Xe, et al, provide documentation of your injuries to the DoD they have just admitted that you are indeed injured and to what extent.

Specific information regarding injury/death: Description of the situation causing the injury/death in detail to include the date, time, place, and scene of the incident, and official medical documentation of the employee’s injuries and treatment. The description must be well documented, including the names of witnesses and point of contact (POC) for additional medical information, if needed.

These admissions sure would make it hard for Administrative Law Judges like Paul C Johnson to name them as alleged.   ALJ Paul C Johnson has yet to award benefits to a DBA Claimant in a decision based on a hearing.

KBR who can never seem to find their injured employees medical records holds the key to the Defense of Freedom Medal.

Certainly there are other lawsuits outside of the DBA that the withholding of this information is vital too.

For those of you who still give a damn after being abused by so badly simply because you were injured-

The Defense of Freedom Medal may find you many years down the road once an Administrative Law Judge says you were injured.

We recommend that you contact your Congressional Representative or Senator and have them request this Medal if you qualify for it and would like to have it.

If you are still litigating your claim it SHOULD serve to legitimize your alleged injuries.

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, AWOL Medical Records, Chartis, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense of Freedom Medal, Department of Defense, Department of Labor, Injured Contractors, KBR, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Political Watch, Racketeering, War Hazards Act, Zurich | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Price of Sacrifice

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 24, 2012

The government decided that contractors are eligible for public honor as civilians, through awards such as the Defense of Freedom Medal. This is described as the “civilian equivalent” of a Purple Heart, as both require the recipient to have been injured or killed. But the contractor is honored as victim; not hero.

David Isenberg at Huffington Post  May 24, 2012

Please see David’s blog  The Isenberg Institute of Strategic Satire

How should one recognize an act on the battlefield that gets you wounded? If you are a soldier, marine, sailor or airman the answer is easy; you get a Purple Heart. That medal, originally created by General George Washington, is awarded to U.S. soldiers wounded by the enemy in combat. It was ordered by the Continental Congress to stop giving commissions or promotions, since the Congress could not afford the extra pay these entailed, so Washington drew up orders for a Badge of Military Merit made of purple cloth. In 1782 he directed that “whenever any singularly meritorious action is performed, the author of it shall be permitted to wear on his facings, over his left breast, the figure of a heart in purple cloth or silk edged with narrow lace or binding.”

In short, Washington gave cloth because he could not give money. But if you are a private contractor and you get wounded you don’t get a Purple Heart.

You, hopefully, will get medical care and benefits which your employer is required, at least theoretically, to provide under the Defense Base Act.

To Mateo Taussig-Rubbo, a professor at the State University of New York, Buffalo Law School this raises the question as to whether they are forms of value which can be substituted one for the other.

In an essay he wrote, “Value of Valor: Money, Medals and Military Labor,” published earlier this year he explores the divide between money and medals. This raises interesting questions about motivation.

Please read the entire post here

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Defense of Freedom Medal, Injured Contractors, Political Watch | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

John J Keys and Jacob A West receive Defense of Freedom Medal

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on April 6, 2012

Fairbanks civilian contractor who survived blast in Afghanistan honored

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Kendall P. Cox, left, presents the Defense of Freedom Medal to John Keys, 52, of Fairbanks, who was injured when a bomb exploded while Keys was conducting a road survey near Paktika Province, Afghnistan, injuring Keys and killing U.S. service members Navy Chief Petty Officer Raymond J. Border, 31, of West Lafayette, Ohio, and Army Staff Sgt. Jorge M. Oliveria, 33, of Newark, N.J. The medal also was presented to Jacob West, 30, of Fayetteville, N.C., who was injured with Keys. / Photo by Mark Rankin, AED North Public Affairs Office
Read more: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

FAIRBANKS — A Fairbanks engineer saw first hand last fall how Afghanistan is a dangerous assignment whether for a soldier or a civilian. While working on a new road in an Afghan village John J. Keys was hit by an 80-pound roadside bomb. Keys, another Army civilian and a translator survived, but two military men they had been working with for months were killed instantly.

Perhaps thankless is the best word for the engineering assignment. Keys found out later that the villagers for whom they were building the road likely saw the bomb-layers digging for several days to install the bomb.

Yet no one bothered to warn them.

Keys, 52, is no stranger to war zones. In his recent career he was been a a civil engineer at Fort Wainwright, where he helped design some the post’s barracks. But before coming to Fairbanks in 1994 he served in the Air National Guard during Operation Desert Storm and later on drug interdiction assignments in Central and South America.

As a civilian engineer, Keys said he has good protection from the military with a close aerial presence and an escort of soldiers. But he never forgot he was in a war. “You’re always careful,” he said. “You’re looking for signs of (improved explosive devices), hand trails where they bury the wires … You’re always aware that anything could happen at any time.”

On Oct. 19, Keys was inspecting a two-lane gravel road through the village of Yahya Khel in Eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistan border. He was on (and now directs) a provisional reconstruction team, a combined military and civilian crew that was going to convert a gravel road to cobblestones at the request of the village. As a member of the team, Keys wore full combat gear minus the weapons and was traveling with a convoy of heavy mine-resistant vehicles. Instead of an assault rifle he carried a camera to document the road conditions.

A photograph he took a few minutes before the blast shows a relatively innocuous scene: a dusty road flanked by earthen walls. A group of men in white robes sit and stand in a doorway talking to soldiers.

The blast went off about 100 meters from where the photograph was taken. The explosion killed Navy Chief Petty Officer Raymond J. Border, 31, of West Lafayette, Ohio, and Army Staff Sgt. Jorge M. Oliveira, 33, of Newark, N.J. Keys was blown of his feet and knocked 20 feet into a gully, according to an account of the explosion recorded in a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers news release.

“I don’t know how to describe it,” Keys said. “I was in full-body pain and I wasn’t where I started.”

The other Army civilian, Jacob A. West, 30, of Fayetteville, N.C., remembered only a smell of burning dirt, chemical and plastic from the moments after the blast, according to the Army news release. His first clear memory was sitting in the armored vehicle where he saw Keys return to the site of the blast to look for the two military men.

“He (Keys) did all that without being asked,” West said according to the release. “He did all that on his own without any regard for his personal safety. He was part of that team. I think that was significant. People should know that.”

This week, Keys and West were both presented the Defense of Freedom Metal, the equivalent of the military Purple Heart for Department of Defense civilians

Please see the original and read more here

Posted in Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Defense of Freedom Medal, Department of Defense, Injured Contractors | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Patrick Elkins of Clinton awarded Defense of Freedom Medal after being seriously injured while driving a truck in Iraq

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 12, 2011

Permanent nerve damage ended Elkins’ career as a truck driver, the only job he ever wanted. Battles with an insurance company halted Elkins’ benefits and forced him to drain every penny of his savings.

Herald Review  May 12, 2011

CLINTON – Patrick Elkins doesn’t dwell on the roadside bomb that nearly took his life in Iraq almost four years ago.

He would rather concentrate on his accounting classes at Richland Community College and the good friends he’s made since he was invited to come to Clinton, a town he had no ties to before the semitruck he was driving took a direct hit near central Iraq on July 14, 2007.

But the Army and Kellogg Brown and Root, the contractor for which he worked, did not forget the sacrifice Elkins and other civilian workers have made in Iraq and Afghanistan. So on April 22, the 44-year-old Elkins traveled to Houston, Texas, to receive the Defense of Freedom Medal, the highest military honor a private citizen can receive, an equivalent to a Purple Heart.

There’s a story behind the medal.

“It was so intense. It was all over before I realized what had happened.  My truck was blown to bits by one mean roadside bomb,” said Elkins, an Ohio native who hauled supplies for the engineering and construction contractor for about two years.

Military medics pulled Elkins’ paralyzed body from the vehicle and rushed him by helicopter to Kuwait, where it was determined his injuries were too severe for treatment, and then to a hospital in Germany.

“Behind all this is the thrill that you don’t know if you’re to make it,” Elkins said. But he knew he would after he moved one of his toes.

About two weeks later, during a shower, a piece of the shrapnel that had struck his neck and upper spine popped out.

Permanent nerve damage ended Elkins’ career as a truck driver, the only job he ever wanted. Battles with an insurance company halted Elkins’ benefits and forced him to drain every penny of his savings.

Don Durbin, a fellow truck driver in Iraq, offered to let Elkins stay with him in Clinton when he returned to the United States.

“I’m so grateful for his help and the grand offer he made,” Elkins said. The two lived together until Durbin married and moved to Springfield.

With his benefits now restored, Elkins is able to pay for a small, second-floor apartment in Clinton. A cot from his service in the Army 20 years ago serves as his bed. Several large metal boxes from his days as a long-distance hauler do double duty as storage and living room furniture.

“I knew exactly what I was getting into. The people who hired me were clear about the hazards. � This is what happens in a war,” he said.

When Elkins finishes his degree at Richland, he plans to move to Kentucky, living on property once owned by his grandmother, but he never will forget the friends who embraced him in Clinton.

“I will always owe them a favor,” he said. “How do you repay people who helped you smile again?”

eblunny@herald-review.com

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Defense of Freedom Medal, Delay, Deny, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, KBR | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Leishmaniasis from Iraq and Afghanistan a Hazard, but not a War Hazard

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 22, 2010

There will be no “Defense of Freedom Medal” for being infected with the Leishmaniasis parasite.

Leishmaniasis is a one celled parasite normally contracted via the bite of a female sandfly.

These sandflys and the parasite they carry are endemic to many countries in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Locals and visitors to these endemic areas are always at risk of contracting Leishmaniasis if precautions are not taken to keep from being bitten.

Leishmaniasis is no more a War Hazard than Malaria or any of the regular work place accidents that occur while working overseas yet are not reimbursable under the War Hazards Act.

So unless the female sandflys have taken up arms and joined Al Qaeda and the Taliban, which would require a complete reversal regarding their views on women…..

The War Hazards Tribunal up in Ohio needs to beware the DBA Insurance Company attempts to paint them as insurgents.

This is the first in our series of reports on Leishmaniasis which most of you who worked in the War Zones were exposed to.

Statistically, it is likely that many of you carry this parasite unawares………

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Department of Labor, Leishmaniasis, Political Watch, War Hazards Act | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Civilian Contractors Receive Defense of Freedom Medal

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 18, 2010

War on Terror News

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq – Three KBR, Inc. employees received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Defense of Freedom in a ceremony, May 1, at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.  The Defense of Freedom Medal is the civilian equivalent of the military’s Purple Heart Medal. It is awarded to civilian employees working in support of the Department of Defense who are injured or fatally wounded by hostile fire while in the line of duty.

Robert Martin Jr., a heavy truck driver with KBR’s Iraq Theater Transportation Mission and a Lindale, Texas, native, sustained a gunshot wound while driving in a flatbed convoy mission Dec. 5, 2005.

Lawrence Reynolds, a heavy truck driver with KBR’s Iraq’s TTM and a Tulsa, Okla., native, received shrapnel wounds and later had a cardiac episode as a result of an improvised explosive device detonation on his convoy, June 6, 2006.

Lemmis Stephens Jr., a tank driver and fuel technician with KBR and a Houston native, sustained bilateral eye injuries when an incoming round exploded 70 feet from his bus, sending shrapnel through his windshield.  All three contractors have since returned to work in Iraq  Read the Full Story here

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, KBR | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Making Peace with his war experience

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 17, 2010

Pentagon honor helps civilian wounded in Iraq find closure

VERMILLION – Long after the chaos, after the tearing flesh, the searing pain, the agonizing days of rehab and the tortured, sleepless nights, Tate Mallory finally understands.

He is a hero.

That confirmation came four weeks ago, in a ceremony in suburban Washington, D.C., in which this former South Dakota sheriff was awarded the Defense of Freedom medal – a Pentagon citation that is the civilian equivalent to the military’s Purple Heart.

Mallory received it because, having gone overseas as a civilian contractor in July 2006 to recruit and train Iraqi policemen, he almost died after being hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.

In fact, the Iraq War tried to kill Mallory twice – when that grenade punched a hole through his gut and damaged nerves in his right leg, and in the months afterward when post-traumatic stress disorder convinced him that his future in law enforcement was over and his life wasn’t worth living anymore.

“He came back so depressed,” his fiancee, Kari Swartos, said as the pair sat in the kitchen of their rural Vermillion home. “He kept dwelling on the injury. It was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what am I going to do now?’ It was like a ‘I-failed-my-family-I-failed-my-kids-I-failed-you’ attitude.”

Contractors play ‘a critical role’

Unfortunately, civilian contractors come home to little fanfare or attention. The Labor Department, which tracks injuries to contract workers abroad, estimates that since 2001, more than 1,700 civilian contractors have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, and almost 40,000 have been reported injured.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said the work Mallory and other contractors did to recruit and train 135,000 Iraqi policemen and security forces is a significant reason why America is closer to winding down its presence there now.

“This is absolutely a critical role,” Thune said of civilian contractors such as Mallory. “And the area he was involved in was essential to our ultimate success there.”

In July 2006, the White River native and former Mellette County sheriff took 14 years of South Dakota law enforcement experience with him to work for a Virginia-based company called DynCorp.

Posted in Contractor Casualties and Missing, PTSD and TBI | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

War Contractors Receive Defense of Freedom Medal for Injuries, But Attract Little Notice

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on February 18, 2010

More than a hundred contractors who have worked in Iraq and Afghanistan have been given the Defense of Freedom medal, a Pentagon citation equivalent to the military’s Purple Heart. But unlike servicemen, the contractors receive little attention.

by T. Christian Miller, ProPublica – February 18, 2010 1:08 pm EST

Falls Church, Va. — A former sheriff’s deputy from South Dakota named Tate Mallory got a medal for service to his country on Wednesday, but it didn’t get much attention.

There was no top military brass at the ceremony, no long line of politicians waiting to shake his hand. Instead, Mallory stood on a dais in an anonymous hotel room in suburban Washington, D.C., looking pleased and slightly embarrassed as he was handed a Defense of Freedom medal.

“I thought that if someone was going to get hurt, it was going to happen to somebody else,” he told the audience, which included friends, family, co-workers, State Department officials and representatives from a congressional office or two.

Mallory was a civilian contractor who worked for DynCorp, a large defense firm that helps train police in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in western Iraq in 2006, punching a hole in his gut. He almost bled to death until U.S. Marines saved him.

He is one of thousands of civilians whose deaths and injuries are not included in the Pentagon’s official list of casualties from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A joint investigation by ProPublica, ABC News and the Los Angeles Times found that injured civilian contractors routinely face drawn-out battles to get medical treatment paid for under a taxpayer-financed federal system known as the Defense Base Act.

The Labor Department, which tracks injuries to contract workers abroad, recently updated the tally Since 2001, more than 1,700 civilian contractors have died in Iraq and Afghanistan and nearly 40,000 have been reported injured.

More than a hundred contract workers have been given the Defense of Freedom medal, a Pentagon citation that is the civilian equivalent of the military’s Purple Heart. Still, it’s difficult to track who receives the medal, which was created by the Defense Department after 9/11. Typically, corporations such as DynCorp or Houston-based KBR nominate their workers, with the Pentagon approving the final award. But there is no centralized record of recipients, nor are the award ceremonies usually publicized.

Several of those at Wednesday’s ceremony, which was sponsored by DynCorp, lamented the lack of attention. They noted that contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan usually get in the news for bad behavior — such as wasting taxpayer money or the killing of innocent civilians.

Ken Leonard, a former DynCorp employee who was also recognized for valor on Wednesday, said Americans are not always aware of the contribution made by civilian contractors at work in the war zones. Leonard had both legs amputated after being injured by a roadside bomb in 2005. After 18 months of surgeries and rehabilitation, he returned to work as a police officer in High Point, N.C.

“I’d say there was a public misunderstanding. I was there to work with the military,” Leonard said. “There’s a perception that we’re all gun-crazy, trigger-happy cowboys. That’s not the case.”

Write to T. Christian Miller at T.Christian.Miller@propublica.org

Posted in T Christian Miller | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 30 Comments »

 
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