Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

Posts Tagged ‘IEDs’

War is Brain-Damaging

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 18, 2012

The Defense Base Act Insurance Companies and the Department of Labor are as negligent as the Department of Defense when it comes denying the dangers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury, and most negligently when a contractor suffers from both.

“a potentially lethal combination of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. When the frontal lobe — which controls emotions — is damaged, it simply can’t put on the brakes if a PTSD flashback unleashes powerful feelings. Seeing his buddy’s leg blown off may have unleashed a PTSD episode his damaged brain couldn’t stop”

The New York Times Sunday Review

These vets suffer from a particular kind of brain damage that results from repeated exposure to the concussive force of improvised explosive devices — I.E.D.’s — a regular event for troops traveling the roads in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“It’s Russian roulette,” one vet told me, “We had one guy in our company who got hit nine times before the 10th one waxed him.” An I.E.D. explosion can mean death or at least a lost arm or leg, but you don’t have to take a direct hit to feel its effects. A veteran who’d been in 26 blasts explained, “It feels like you’re whacked in the head with a shovel. When you come to, you don’t know whether you’re dead or alive.”

The news that Robert Bales, an Army staff sergeant accused of having killed 16 Afghan civilians last week, had suffered a traumatic brain injury unleashed a flurry of e-mails among those of us who have been trying to beat the drums about this widespread — and often undiagnosed — war injury. New facts about Staff Sgt. Bales are coming out daily. After we heard about the brain injury that resulted when his vehicle rolled over in an I.E.D. blast, we were told that he had lost part of his foot in a separate incident. Then we learned that the day before his rampage, he’d been standing by a buddy when that man’s leg was blown off. There are also reports of alcohol use.

People with more appropriate professional skills than mine will have to parse these facts, but from what I have learned in my work as a storyteller, this tragedy may be related to something I heard about in my interviews: a potentially lethal combination of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. When the frontal lobe — which controls emotions — is damaged, it simply can’t put on the brakes if a PTSD flashback unleashes powerful feelings. Seeing his buddy’s leg blown off may have unleashed a PTSD episode his damaged brain couldn’t stop. If alcohol was indeed part of the picture, it could have further undermined his compromised frontal lobe function

Please see the original and read more here

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Chartis, Civilian Contractors, Department of Defense, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, Injured Contractors, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Melt Down, PTSD and TBI | 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 »

IED Casualties in Afghanistan Spike though still no mention of Contractor Casualties

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 26, 2011

With more contractors in Afghanistan than Troops certainly there is a large number of unreported Civilian Contractor IED Casualties.  Despite the lack of interest in these casualties one would think at least the expense of these hidden casualties should be brought to the attention of the American Taxpayer.

The number of U.S. troops killed by roadside bombs in Afghanistan soared by 60 percent last year, while the number of those wounded almost tripled, new U.S. military statistics show.

Contractor sitting here still fighting for Medical from ACE

by Craig Whitlock at The Washington Post

All told, 268 U.S. troops were killed by the improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, in 2010, about as many as in the three previous years combined, according to the figures, obtained by The Washington Post. More than 3,360 troops were injured, an increase of 178 percent over the year before.

Military officials said an increase in attacks was expected, given the surge in U.S. and NATO troops, as well as the intensified combat. Even so, the spike comes despite a fresh wave of war-zone countermeasures, including mine-clearing machines, fertilizer-sniffing dogs and blimps with sophisticated spy cameras.

The U.S. military has struggled for years to find an antidote to the homemade explosives. IEDs – concocted primarily of fertilizer and lacking metal or electronic parts that would make them easier to detect – are the largest single cause of casualties for U.S. troops, by a wide margin.

Army Lt. Gen. Michael L. Oates, the director of a Pentagon agency dedicated to combating the bombs, noted that the percentage of IED attacks that have inflicted casualties – on U.S., NATO and Afghan forces, as well as Afghan civilians – has actually declined in recent months, from 25 percent last summer to 16 percent in December, according to U.S. military statistics.

“My main concern is driving these effective attacks down,” he said. “We’re enjoying success there, and I do believe we’re going to continue to reduce [the enemy’s] effectiveness.”

Oates and other military officials have emphasized figures showing that IEDs killed fewer troops in the NATO-led coalition last year than in 2009 – a slight decline, from 447 to 430.

A further examination of those numbers, however, shows that casualty rates among U.S. troops have skyrocketed as they have taken over responsibility from European allies for fighting in southern Afghanistan, where resistance from insurgents has been most fierce. Meanwhile, casualty rates among allies have dropped.  Please read the entire story here

Posted in Afghanistan, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Delay, Deny, Department of Labor | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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