Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

Posts Tagged ‘injured contractor’

Lawmakers: Limit Spying on Workers

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on February 5, 2010

Bill aims at limiting spying in workers’ compensation cases

Colorado, but a good start  full story here

Lawmakers are pushing legislation that would limit the ability of workers’ compensation providers from spying on employees who have made a claim.

The bill stems from discussions by the Pinnacol Interim Committee, after lawmakers looked to tighten control over the state’s workers’ compensation provider of last resort. Concerns were raised about the company spying on injured workers to validate claims.

House Bill 1012, sponsored by Rep. Sal Pace, D-Pueblo, would only allow surveillance with reasonable cause.

The bill would prohibit an insurer or employer from spying on workers who have submitted claims unless the insurer or employer has a “reasonable basis” to suspect the employee has committed fraud. Employees would be allowed to request an expedited hearing before a administrative law judge to challenge the surveillance.

Insurers and employers would also be required to destroy all material collected unless the materials are “reasonably necessary” to resolve an ongoing claim of fraud. Violations would result in a $1,000 per day penalty.

Pace points out that of the $4.7 million spent last year to spy on 2,500 workers, only 11 were found to have actually committed fraud. He said workers are complaining that the surveillance is used to intimidate workers into accepting lesser payments.

“The insurance companies are abusing it, it’s evasive, and it’s our responsibility as legislators to stand up for average Coloradans, and not for the special interest and insurance companies,” said Pace.

Posted in AIG and CNA, spykids | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

AIG-War Updates

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 24, 2010

Mine is only one case among over 31000.  Misrepresentation, falsifying federal documents—both felonies—were  used to terminate my medical care & benefits.

Is this an isolated incident among the 31000 cases covered by AIG & CNA?

OALJ Case No. 2009-LDA-00335

December 22, 2009

December 29, 2009


Insurance company abuses of war-injured Americans.

Who knew and who did nothing.
Walker & Galichon: Your firm sent me Federal Form LS-208, terminating my benefits, after it was shown to be false; based on misrepresentation. As officers of the court, would this interest the California State Bar?

AIG was paid by taxpayers to provide workmen comp coverage to military contractors.

DOL Judge Romero signed off on a settlement pushing off AIG’s liability onto Medicare and my personal health insurance. Accountability?

Federal law provides penalties for the abuses I, and others, have experienced.

Follow Terry’s Twitter Posts here

Posted in AIG and CNA, Department of Labor, Misjudgements | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Defense Base Act Compensation Blog Most viewed posts in 2009

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 1, 2010

These are based on statistics from Jan 1 2009 through Dec 31 2009

Tangiers International Updates

And still awaiting the outcome of the Department of Labor and the Department of Justice investigations into Tangiers International.

We’ll report on our own findings at the same time.

More on this below     On your toes Tacticor

DBA CNA Casualty Anniversary

Is it just the photo of these really good looking guys or do people have a problem with CNA  and ‘He who must not be named’  tactics used for dragging claims out for six and more years while denying medical and cutting off payments?

KBR has blocked MsSparky from their Servers

Tag Teaming to keep the info train rolling

The Defense Base Act Compensation Blog was soon blocked as well !!

Fluor did not waste anytime following suite

Danny Fitzsimons Discharged From Army with PTSD

This is a tragic tale of two dead contractors, Darren Hoare and Paul McGuigan,  at the hand of a third contractor who was fighting a “War within his head”.   He was hired by several different security companies despite his diagnoses of PTSD and known drug and legal problems.

It took the publicity and outrage of the world but the company who last hired him has since starting doing background checks.   And yet, due to the DBA sanctioned right to deadly negligence, the burden will be borne only by the dead, injured, their families, and what’s left of Danny Fitzsimons tortured mind.  Danny awaits trial in Baghdad.

Civilian Contractors Toll in Iraq and Afghanistan Ignored by Defense Dept

by T. Christian Miller, ProPublica – October 9, 2009

Despite the importance of civilian contractors to its mission, the Defense Department hasn’t been measuring their sacrifice. More than 5,200 soldiers have died in the two war zones, meaning that one civilian contractor has died for every three soldiers.

Dropping the DBA Ball
CYA Statement of the year from the one in charge of the ball

“The problem that we see a lot is where injuries occur overseas the knee-jerk reaction is the insurance company says,‘I can’t pay right now. I don’t have documentation,’ ” said Miranda Chiu, Labor’s director of policy for Defense Base Act claims.“They drop the ball.”

AIG Faces Hearing on Denial of Medical Claims by Contractors Injured in Iraq and Afghanistan

Kucinich, the chair of the committee’s domestic policy panel, said earlier that he was “alarmed” by a joint investigation [4] by ProPublica [5], ABC News [6] and the Los Angeles Times [7], which found that the troubled insurance giant routinely denied medical care to civilians injured in the war zones. Rep. Elijah Cummings [8], D-Md., first requested [9] a hearing after the reports aired earlier this year. Kucinich’s panel will be joined by Sen. Bernie Sanders [10], I-Vt.,

Independent Medical Evaluations AIG and CNA

Dispelling the Myth that insurance company Defense Medical Evaluations are in someway unbiased Indpendent Medical Evaluations.   Only the DoL can arrange for an Independent Medical Examination under the DBA.    The insurance company is entitled to have you see a doctor of their choice, under certain restrictions,  but this is a Defense Medical Evaluation.

Tangiers International DBA “Medical Providers

Tangiers International , AIG’s Medical Provider/Spy Kids Caught Lying

Tangiers Vice President a Dept of Labor Employee

Remember Them Too

Don’t Contractors Count When we Calculate the Cost of War? By Steven Schooner

Despite the light that Memorial Day will shine, briefly, on the U.S. death tolls in Iraq and Afghanistan, don’t expect an accurate accounting of the real human cost of our military actions abroad. The numbers you’ll see — mostly likely just under 5,000 fatalities — won’t tell the whole story.

How CNA Treats Foreign Claimants

“I arranged for a meeting with CNA Global and Donna Sprags. The nursecase manager Jody Mcewan arranged the meeting In Chicago at the offices of CNA Global. I left South Africa with a Medic, a Nurse and my wife.

When  I arrived at the building of CNA I was told that “she will not see me and was thrown out of the building by security”. The trip cost me $15 000 and I have outstanding medical debts of $150 000.

AIG their IME, PTSE, The Saga Continues

The Infamous Dr. Griffith and those who enable him

In Memory of Tim Eysslinck

We lost Tim to PTSD five years ago April 23.  Tim’s wife and children have been denied DBA benefits in a most disturbing series of events replete with fraudulent statements.  And his widow paid the original lawyer who allowed this to happen.

Texas District Court Rules Iraq War not Life Threatening

Casualties not Counted

Eysslinck Files

Posted in AIG and CNA, KBR, Misjudgements, PTSD and TBI, spykids, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Foreign Interpreters Hurt in Battle Find U.S. Insurance Benefits Wanting

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 21, 2009

Foreign Interpreters Hurt in Battle Find U.S. Insurance Benefits Wanting

by T. Christian Miller, ProPublica – December 18, 2009 4:42 am EST

This story was co-published with the Los Angeles Times [1].

Malek Hadi was working with the U.S. military police when a homemade bomb detonated beneath his Humvee in September 2006. It cost him his right leg and several fingers. Documents show AIG insurance withheld his disability benefits in an effort to force him to accept a lump-sum settlement. Left: Hadi in Baghdad. Right: Hadi in his Arlington, Texas, apartment (Allison V. Smith/For The Los Angeles Times.)

After the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the U.S. military discovered that rebuilding the country and confronting an insurgency required a weapon not in its arsenal: Thousands of translators.

To fill the gap, the Pentagon turned to Titan Corp., a San Diego defense contractor, which eventually hired more than 8,000 interpreters, most of them Iraqis.

For $12,000 a year, these civilians served as the voice of America’s military, braving sniper fire and roadside bombs. Insurgents branded them collaborators and targeted them for torture and assassination. Many received military honors for their heroism.

[2] At least 360 interpreters employed by Titan or its successor company were killed between March 2003 and March 2008, and more than 1,200 were injured. The death toll was greater than that suffered by the armed forces of any country in the American-led coalition, other than the U.S. Scores of translators assisting U.S. forces in Afghanistan have also been killed or wounded.

An insurance program funded by American taxpayers was supposed to provide a safety net for interpreters and their families in the event of injury or death. Yet for many, the benefits have fallen painfully short of what was promised, an investigation by the Los Angeles Times and ProPublica found.

Interviews, corporate documents and data on insurance claims show that:

  • Insurers have delayed or denied claims for disability payments and death benefits, citing a lack of police reports or other documentary evidence that interpreters’ injuries or deaths were related to their work for the military. Critics, including some U.S. Army officers, say it is absurd to expect Iraqis or Afghans to be able to document the cause of injuries suffered in a war zone.
  • Iraqi interpreters sent to neighboring Jordan for medical treatment say they were pressured to accept lump-sum settlements from insurers, rather than a stream of lifetime benefits potentially worth more, and were told that if they didn’t sign, they would be sent back to Iraq — a likely death sentence.
  • Interpreters who have immigrated to America as refugees have ended up penniless, on food stamps or in menial jobs because their benefits under the U.S. insurance program are based on wages and living costs in their home countries, not in the United States. Payments intended to provide a decent standard of living in Iraq or Afghanistan leave the recipients below the poverty level in this country.

Malek Hadi was working with U.S. military police outside Baghdad when a homemade explosive detonated beneath his Humvee in September 2006. The blast tore off his right leg, mangled his left and sheared off several fingers.

Today, Hadi, 25, lives alone in a crime-ridden neighborhood in Arlington, Texas. He struggles to climb the stairs to his second-floor apartment on crutches. He has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder but is not receiving treatment because his insurer has refused to pay for it.

Malek Hadi (Allison V. Smith/For The Los Angeles Times.)
Malek Hadi (Allison V. Smith/For The Los Angeles Times.)

He lives on $612 a month in disability payments –- the maximum available under the war-zone insurance system.

“When we were in Iraq, we were exactly like the soldiers,” Hadi said. “Why are we treated differently now?”

Retired Army Col. Joel Armstrong, who served in Iraq and was a leading proponent of the 2007 U.S. troop buildup, or “surge,” that helped reduce violence in the country, said Iraqi interpreters were crucial to the strategy’s success.

“Without them, you really can’t operate effectively as a force. It’s just impossible,” Armstrong said. It is deplorable, he added, that interpreters injured while assisting American troops have had to fight for benefits.

“Every American should feel terrible about it,” he said. “It’s a shame.”

American International Group Inc. (AIG), the principal provider of insurance coverage for interpreters in Iraq, declined to answer detailed questions on its policies or comment on specific cases.

Marie Ali, a spokeswoman for the AIG unit that sold the coverage, said the company “is committed to handling every claim professionally, ethically and fairly. In all cases, it is our policy to respect the privacy of our customers and claimants and not discuss the specifics of individual claims.”

Under a World War II-era law known as the Defense Base Act [4], companies working under contract for the U.S. military must provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees, both Americans and foreign nationals. The cost of the coverage is built into Pentagon contracts and so is ultimately paid by taxpayers.

The insurance system, administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, once handled a few hundred claims a year. It expanded dramatically after the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq because of the Pentagon’s heavy reliance on civilian contract workers to drive fuel trucks, cook meals and provide other support services.

Today, there are more civilian workers than uniformed soldiers in the two battle zones, and more than 1,400 contract workers have died.

Interpreters in Iraq were covered by insurance purchased by their employer, first Titan Corp. and later L-3 Communications, a New York defense contractor that acquired Titan in 2005. L-3 paid AIG more than $20 million a year in premiums, according to corporate records.

Once a worker files an injury claim, the employer’s insurer must begin paying benefits within two weeks or file a “notice of dispute.”

Interpreters who suffered the worst injuries, such as loss of a limb or severe brain damage, typically received compensation relatively quickly. That is because they were treated at U.S. military facilities in Iraq, where staff members documented their injuries.

In other cases, AIG often had difficulty establishing to its satisfaction that interpreters’ injuries or deaths were work-related. The company routinely filed notices of dispute while it investigated the claims.

“Even determining the facts of an accident – the location and the circumstances – can be a challenge,” Charles Schader, AIG’s president of worldwide claims, told a Congressional panel in June [5]. “Without sufficient information, examiners cannot make timely final determinations within 14 days.”

To pay death benefits, AIG required police reports or other supporting documents, according to former L-3 officials. Internal L-3 records from 2005 show that AIG examiners sent to Iraq were able to find documentation deemed necessary for benefits in only half the cases examined.

Colleen Driscoll, former chief claims manager for L-3, said that 10 percent to 20 percent of the company's Iraqi workers who should have received benefits were denied.
Colleen Driscoll, former chief claims manager for L-3, said that 10 percent to 20 percent of the company’s Iraqi workers who should have received benefits were denied.

“If you’re missing one piece of documentation, you got denied,” said Colleen Driscoll, former chief claims manager for L-3. “These guys get murdered coming and going to work, and AIG turns them down because they don’t have a letter from the insurgents.”

Driscoll, a former U.N. refugee official, left L-3 in 2007. She said the cause was a dispute with company executives over treatment of injured interpreters.

She and another former L-3 official, Jennifer Armstrong, said their experience suggested that 10 percent to 20 percent of the company’s Iraqi workers who should have received benefits were denied.

Armstrong said that in one instance, a slain interpreter’s widow and children had to live for months in the company’s compound in the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad while they waited for death benefits to be approved. It was too dangerous for them to remain in their home, and they could not afford to relocate, she said.

“The Iraqis were looked at as second-class citizens,” said Armstrong, who now works for another defense contractor. “It just became a business. When it became a business, you lost sight of the goal.”

L-3 did not respond to requests for comment.

AIG arranged for many of the most severely wounded Iraqis to be transferred to neighboring Jordan, where medical facilities were better and interpreters did not face the risk of assassination.

Emad Hatabah, a Syrian-trained physician who had been medical director of AIG’s Jordanian subsidiary, exercised broad authority over their care. A medical evacuation company that Hatabah owned transported interpreters from the war zone. He selected their doctors and arranged stays at hotels and rehabilitation clinics.

Once their treatment was concluded, Hatabah presented interpreters with settlement agreements providing for lump-sum payments, in return for which AIG would be released from further liability.

Several Iraqis said Hatabah pressed them to sign and told them that if they refused, they would be sent back to Iraq. In spring 2007, more than a dozen interpreters sent L-3 officials a petition complaining of “bad treatment” by Hatabah and asserting that he had threatened to have them deported.

Ali Kanaan, who worked as in interpreter, suffered vision damage and burns to a third of his body as a result of a 2006 suicide bombing. Kanaan said that he was pressured to take a lump-sum payment for his injuries, in return for which AIG would be released from further liability. Now 23, he works at a cigarette store in Denver. (Photo by Matthew Staver/For The Los Angeles Times)
Ali Kanaan, who worked as in interpreter, suffered vision damage and burns to a third of his body as a result of a 2006 suicide bombing. Kanaan said that he was pressured to take a lump-sum payment for his injuries, in return for which AIG would be released from further liability. Now 23, he works at a cigarette store in Denver. (Photo by Matthew Staver/For The Los Angeles Times)

One of the interpreters, Ali Kanaan, suffered vision damage and burns to more than a third of his body as a result of a 2006 suicide bombing.

Kanaan said Hatabah offered him a $61,000 settlement on AIG’s behalf. He said that when he resisted, Hatabah told him that if he didn’t accept the lump sum, he would have to return to Iraq to pursue a claim for disability benefits.

Kanaan decided to take the offer.

“If you obey Dr. Emad’s rules, you’ll be fine,” he said. “If you don’t, you got kicked out.”

Kanaan later immigrated to the U.S. as a refugee. Now 23, he works 12 hours a day in a cigarette store in Denver. At night, he cleans the stove hoods in restaurant kitchens. The caustic chemicals irritate his skin grafts, he said.

Hatabah, interviewed in Amman, the Jordanian capital, said the interpreters received exemplary care. He denied pressuring any of them to sign settlements or threatening to send them back to Iraq.

Emad Hatabah
Emad Hatabah

Hatabah said AIG’s office in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, sent him settlement agreements and his only role was to witness the signing of the documents. He said that because he is employed by AIG, he took care never to act as the treating physician for any interpreters, in order to eliminate even the appearance of a conflict of interest.

“I believe we did more than a good job,” Hatabah said. “It was a perfect job.”

Interpreters and other injured workers can appeal insurers’ denials through a dispute-resolution system in the Department of Labor. Ultimately, an administrative law judge decides the matter. The department must approve all settlements, and officials are supposed to review offers with the affected workers to make sure compensation is “adequate.”

“The whole purpose is to recognize that a guy who’s never had a $100,000 check in his life before is a sucker for a bad deal,” said Joshua Gillelan, a former lawyer for the department who now represents civilian workers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But few Iraqis know they have rights in the system, and interpreters interviewed for this report said the Labor Department never contacted them about settlement offers.

“Nobody called me or told me or did anything for me,” said Nazar Taei, 40, whose legs were riddled with shrapnel during a mortar attack in 2006.

After he arrived in the U.S. as a refugee, AIG offered Taei an $18,500 settlement, he said. He was dissatisfied with the amount, but accepted it.

“I told AIG, ‘Is this enough for somebody to start his life, who lost his job, a part of his life?’” recalled Taei, a Denver resident who recently enlisted in the U.S. Army and hopes to become a translator. “They said, ‘Those are the rules. We can’t do anything for you.’”

In at least one case, an AIG representative discouraged Iraqis from reaching out to the Labor Department. In an e-mail exchange last year, the father of an L-3 interpreter killed in a car bomb wrote to AIG, seeking to speed payment of death benefits.

The father, who revealed details of the case on condition of anonymity, asked an AIG examiner in Dubai about contacting Labor officials.

“I wouldn’t advice you to do so,” the examiner replied by e-mail. “You would be taking the full responsibility of the outcomes.”

Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis
Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis

Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis declined requests for an interview. In a statement, the Labor Department said the increase in civilian contract workers in Iraq and Afghanistan has posed formidable challenges for the war-zone insurance system. The department has no employees posted in Iraq, Afghanistan or surrounding countries, nor any speakers of Arabic or Afghan dialects.

The statement said Labor depends on insurers and defense contractors to inform workers of their rights and to report injuries.

“There is no way to accurately monitor compliance as the many levels of subcontracting to workers from around the globe makes such oversight impossible,” the statement said. “We understand and are concerned about the fact that we are unable to place staff at the front lines to ensure that all workers understand their rights.”

In this April 17, 2007, photo, Sgt. 1st Class Jerry Byrd of the 82nd Airborne Division talks to a Baghdad schoolmaster with the help of an Iraqi interpreter (center). (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
In this April 17, 2007, photo, Sgt. 1st Class Jerry Byrd of the 82nd Airborne Division talks to a Baghdad schoolmaster with the help of an Iraqi interpreter (center). (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

After the homemade explosive blew off his leg in 2006, Malek Hadi was sent to Jordan for treatment. There, AIG offered him a $60,000 lump-sum settlement, he said.

Hadi rejected the offer and said he was deported to Iraq within a month.

He later returned to Jordan as a refugee. He had applied for disability benefits but was not receiving any, and he could not get an explanation from AIG, he said. He lived on handouts from family and friends while waiting for permission to immigrate to the U.S.

Internal AIG documents indicate that a claims examiner withheld Hadi’s benefits in an effort to force him to accept the lump sum. Hadi was “clearly entitled” to benefits, a different AIG examiner wrote in a memo dated August 2008. The company had not paid because the previous examiner “was trying to get the claimant to decide whether to settle his claim,” the memo said.

After arriving in the U.S., Hadi again contacted AIG, this time seeking medical treatment as well as disability payments. A psychologist working with a refugee agency in Texas had diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition, Hadi’s prosthetic right leg was causing sharp pains and his damaged left leg ached constantly.

AIG formally contested the claim, saying that he needed further medical evaluation. This past summer, more than three years after Hadi’s leg was blown off, AIG began paying him disability benefits of $612 a month. The insurer still has not approved his request for medical treatment.

Hadi spends most of his days in his apartment in Arlington, Texas, watching Arabic television and texting friends back home. “I lost my leg. My life is broken,” he said. “For what?”

A favorite possession is a gold coin given to him by a member of the 89th Military Police Brigade after he was injured.

“Proven in Battle,” it says.

Write to T. Christian Miller at

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Contractor Casualties and Missing, PTSD and TBI, T Christian Miller | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Workers’ Comp in Iraq

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 18, 2009

Workers’  Comp Insider

Workers’ Comp in Iraq

June 13, 2005

A mere four and a half years and two congressional hearings ago Workers Comp Insider wanted to know:

Where’s OSHA ?

A fascinating article by staff writer T. Christian Miller in today’s Los Angeles Times (registration required) focuses on the cost of providing workers comp insurance to non-military employees in Iraq. Under a WW II era program called the Defense Base Act, private insurers charge the government for comp premiums. These private carriers are at risk only for the non-combat related injuries, illnesses and deaths. The government reimburses the carriers for all combat-related incidents, plus a 15% admin fee. Overall, costs for comp in Iraq are somewhere around $ 1 billion, but no one seems to know for sure.

Currently, two carriers dominate the market: AIG and ACE. The Pentagon is talking about awarding all the business to a single carrier, in order to contain the escalating costs. The counter argument seeks a continuation of the “free market approach.” I’m not sure how “free” the current market is and as for the rates, they appear to be headed in the wrong direction.

Comp in Iraq
There are about 30,000 Americans and third-country nationals and more than 40,000 Iraqis working on U.S. contracts in Iraq. To date, about 300 contractors have been killed and 2,700 injured. When the program began, insurance rates ran between $4 and $8 per hundred dollars of payroll. Now they are up to $20 per hundred — a pretty hefty rate by most measures.

Salaries in Iraq, as you would expect, are much higher than those in the states. It’s not unusual for workers to pull down $100,000. (The pay is good, but you would have to characterize the working conditions as marginal.) Comp premiums at the $20 rate would average about $20,000 per employee — a very high rate indeed. Because of the high salaries, death claims are averaging between $1.2 and $1.8 million — significantly higher than death claims for workers in the states.

How do rates for insurance in Iraq compare to other locations in the world? Here’s one striking example cited by Christian: In Colombia, a contractor flying helicopters in support of State Department drug interdiction programs is charged at $3.87 per $100 of payroll — less than a truck driver in the states. In Iraq, however, a contractor flying helicopters runs $90 per $100, with comp payments almost the equal of payroll (only iron workers above the 6th floor reach anywhere near comparable rates in the states). Keep in mind that if the helicopter pilot dies in a combat-related incident, the carrier is not on for the loss. The carriers respond by saying they have to establish these high rates, because even if they are eventually reimbursed for a combat-related incident, it could take several years to actually get the money and there is no guarantee that the government will accept the liability.

Conventional Cost Control, Unconventional Conditions
Employers in the states have learned the hard way that the best way to control comp costs is to contain losses. Cost containment means committing to good safety programs and setting up a system for immediately responding to injuries. You need to establish a relationship with an occupational medical provider and set up a comprehensive return-to-work program that uses temporary modified duty to speed recovery. That’s all well and good stateside, but I have to wonder how well that kind of a system will work in Iraq. Is anyone motivated to implement modified duty? Do employees really want to go back to work, or would they prefer to collect 2/3 of their (inflated) average weekly wage at a safe distance from the turmoil? If you were an Iraqi national, would you risk your life going back to work on temporary modified duty? With U.S. taxpayers ultimately footing the bill, does anyone over there really care if an injured employee goes back to work? When you think about it this way, you wonder why carriers would want any of the risk.

Where’s OSHA?
I wonder what OSHA would say about the working conditions in Iraq. (Given the reduced number of inspectors, they probably haven’t gotten there yet.) Under the General Duty Clause, employers must provide a workplace free from the risk of injury and illness. How does Iraq stack up? As a spokesman for one of the carriers stated, in response to questions about the high rates, “it’s 130 degrees. There is a lot of dust. There is a lack of hospitals.” Not to mention the fact that strangers are constantly trying to kidnap or kill you. Stress claim, anyone?

Ubiquitous AIG
It is indeed interesting to find AIG in the middle of this high-risk mess. Just as they were challenged by New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer for “risk transfer” transactions that apparently involved no risk at all, it appears that here in Iraq they are collecting possibly inflated premiums where, once again, a substantial portion of the risk lies with others (you and me, to be exact).

Ultimately, my sympathies here are with the workers. I can hardly imagine a more difficult place to work. Here in America it’s rare to dress for work with a prayer that you will survive another day (rare but certainly not unheard of). In Iraq, every breath in that hot, dusty place is accompanied by just such a prayer. Here’s wishing a safe return to our civilians and a lasting peace for the Iraqi people themselves

Posted in AIG and CNA, PTSD and TBI | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Veterans Day

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 11, 2009

We are  joining Paul Sullivan at Veterans for Common Sense who is using this day to raise awareness of the mental needs of our service members, veterans, families and for us our overseas civilian contractors.

According to the Congressional Budget Reports there is one contractor for every soldier and one dying for every three soldiers killed.

Following  you will read several ratios as applied to the numbers of soldiers coming home with PTSD and TBI.

We have no numbers or ratios to report on how many contractors come home with PTSD and TBI.

The DoL, CNA and AIG  have been more successful at denying diagnoses, treatment and benefits than the DoD and VA.

Please go to Veterans for Common Sense for today’s Lessons from Fort Hood

Op-Ed: 90,000 U.S. Battlefield Casualties, But Who’s Counting?

Written by Kelley Vlahos
Tuesday, 10 November 2009 11:03

November 10, 2009 ( – Veterans Day arrives tomorrow, and with it, the anticipated harvest of heartbreaking anecdotes driving the press coverage and our ever wandering attention back to less desirable realities: the disfigured but persevering hero, the homeless warrior, the unemployable sergeant, the father or son or daughter who came home a stranger and cannot be reached.

Usually, there is nothing more powerful than a personal story to pound home the cost of eight years of war overseas, but I think today there is something even more disturbing to bear.

It’s the number 89,457.

As of Oct. 15, that’s how many American casualties there were in Iraq and Afghanistan since Oct. 7, 2001, when the Afghan war officially began. That includes a tire-screeching 75,134 dead, wounded-in-action, and medically evacuated due to illness, disease, or injury in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and 14,323 and counting in Afghanistan, or Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).

That it may sound incredible – even unreal – is understandable. Early attempts to effectively count casualties (outside of battlefield fatalities) had been in earnest, then erratic, but finally dead-ended, frustrated by the Department of Defense, which has always been loath to break down and publicize the data on a regular basis.

One stalwart has always been Veterans for Common Sense (VCS), a nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to advancing the health and readjustment of returning soldiers and veterans. They’ve been diligently aggregating the statistics over time, and thanks to their diligent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, they can provide casualty reports at a level of detail not currently seen on the DOD’s publicly accessible Web site,

If we could access the data more easily, more people would know that 196 servicemembers took their own lives while serving in Iraq between March 2003 and Oct. 3, 2009, and there were 34 such suicides in Afghanistan. (These figures, of course, do not include the skyrocketing cases of suicides among all active-duty soldiers and veterans and cases of self-inflicted injury outside both war zones.)

More people would also know that 48,215 servicemembers had to be medically evacuated from the battlefield due to hostile and non-hostile injury, disease, and other medical issues since the beginning of the Iraq War. As of early October, 8.983 were evacuated for the same reasons from the war zone in Afghanistan.

What the DOD does say, is that as of Nov. 4, there were 13,880 servicemembers wounded in action in Iraq who had not returned to duty, while 2,619 had left Afghanistan under the same conditions. That number is climbing faster. According to the Washington Post on Oct. 31, more than 1,000 were wounded in Afghanistan in the last three months, accounting for one-third of the total American casualties in OEF overall.

Thus, the troops are coming home, but in drastically varied degrees of wholeness. In Vietnam, there was one soldier killed for every 2.6 wounded. The vast majority of soldiers are surviving their injuries today (approximately one killed in action for every 11.5 wounded in action, according to current stats for Afghanistan and Iraq), thanks to advanced body armor, better medevac transport, and mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles. But in tens of thousands of cases, their journey has just begun.

No one should be surprised, then, to hear that some 454,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have already sought medical care from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) when they came home. That’s 40 percent of the total OIF/OEF veteran population, which is a number that is of course in flux, considering that the war has no end and veterans have five years to apply for care after the end of their service.

As of this summer, of those veterans who sought healthcare at the VA, 45 percent were diagnosed with a mental health condition, according to VA statistics. Twenty-seven percent of these had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Based on available resources from the DOD and research by the RAND Corporation, VCS estimates that an estimated 370,000 (or 19.5 percent of) veterans have a traumatic brain injury (TBI) thanks to the high rate of accidents, roadside bombs, and other battlefield explosions and events – plus repeated deployments – in the war. VCS also estimates that some 18.5 percent of veterans come home with PTSD.

“This is very, very serious. The numbers are . . . bad, OK?” said Paul Sullivan, the bulldog director of VCS. “The good news is veterans are asking for care, and it’s good care. The bad news is there is 454,000 of them.”

That’s tens of thousands of men and women and affected families and communities that are all but missing from the mainstream news any other time of the year. Sullivan said this is partly the military’s fault for obfuscating the statistics and working to keep the agony of sacrifice in the shadows.

“It’s still the policy of the United States to minimize concerns about postwar health,” said Sullivan. Take the issue of soldiers coming home with chronic health problems allegedly caused by the toxic open-air burn pits in theater. One look at the online discussion boards and it’s clear something over there went awry. Vets are headed to VA facilities in droves with symptoms ranging from respiratory distress to sleep apnea and irregular heart conditions, but the Pentagon still refuses to admit a connection to their wartime exposures.

“They treat it as a public relations issue, not a health issue,” Sullivan said. “In our view, we are tired of the government lying, and we’re done with the PR.”

Larry Scott, who runs, an invaluable daily monitor of ongoing issues affecting the 23.4 million living U.S veterans, said the 89,457 figure relating to OIF/OEF casualties is valid – and ultimately overwhelming. “People just forget, they don’t realize there is an ongoing cost of war. Whether you agree with the war or not is not the issue. We have to be ready to pay the price.”

Looking at it in monetary terms – more numbers – may seem cold, but again, it puts the taxpayers’ burden into shocking perspective. Linda Bilmes and Joseph Stiglitz have identified two scenarios in their book, The Three Trillion Dollar War (2008). One scenario estimates a long-term cost of $422 billion to the federal government for veterans’ health care and disability compensation (given 1.8 million men and women deployed and troop levels falling below 55,000 by 2012). In the other scenario, the U.S. stays in Iraq and Afghanistan another eight years and 2.1 million men and women are deployed, with a price tag of $717 billion

Sullivan estimates that there are about 450,000 disability claims already filed with the VA on behalf of Iraq and Afghanistan vets, based on the official 405,000 figure announced back in February. He said there are approximately 80,000 new claims a month from veterans of all wars. As of Sept. 26, there were more than 951,217 pending claims by all veterans, including 200,679 claims pending appeal (the Veterans Benefits Administration recently reduced that number to 176,000, raising eyebrows at Sullivan’s group).

Rarely do we hear these figures over the din calling for even greater numbers of troops on the ground in Afghanistan. The generals want 40,000 or more, which would exceed the “surge” of 20,000 men and women into Iraq almost three years ago. Soldiers are finally withdrawing from that front only to be shifted to the other one for seemingly more hazardous duty.

“Where is the discussion about making sure that before we send any more troops overseas that we can take care of the veterans we already have and whether we can take care of another flood of them?” asked Sullivan.

Such discussions are indeed hard to come by. As Veterans Day nears, veterans are strangely absent, and for many of us, out of mind. Perhaps Sullivan’s question is best answered by Macy’s full-page Veterans Day sale advertisement in the Washington Post this week, featuring two well-dressed, shiny, happy, pretty people with a bugle and a drum. There are lots of numbers – 30% to 60% off storewide! – but not a veteran in sight.

Posted in AIG and CNA, PTSD and TBI | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »


Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 5, 2009

Dorgan jpeg

For Immediate Release:                                               FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Wednesday                                                                         CONTACT: Barry E. Piatt

November 4, 2009                                                          PHONE: 202-224-0577

Tens of Thousands of Soldiers May Have Been Exposed:


( WASHINGTON , D.C. ) — Chairman Byron Dorgan (D-ND) announced Wednesday the Senate Democratic Policy Committee (DPC) will conduct a congressional oversight hearing on Friday, November 6, to examine the health risks associated with the continued use of open-air burn pits by the U.S. military and contractor KBR in Iraq and Afghanistan .

The hearing is set for 10:00 AM and will be held in Room 628 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington , DC .

Although military guidelines allow the use of burn pits to dispose of waste only in emergency situations, most large U.S. military installations have continued to use burn pits for years, despite growing evidence that exposure to burn pit smoke may be causing an increased incidence of chronic lung diseases, respiratory ailments, neurological disorders and cancer.

Hearing witnesses are expected to testify that plastics, paint, solvents, petroleum products, rubber, and medical waste have been burned in the pits.

The hearing will also examine whether military contractor KBR operated the burn pits in a safe and cost-effective manner.

Witnesses will include the Air Force’s former Bioenvironmental Flight Commander at Joint Base Balad, who warned three years ago about health hazards associated with burn pit smoke at the base, two KBR whistleblowers, and a medical expert who will describe  the adverse health consequences associated with burn pit smoke inhalation.

Details follow:

WHO: Senators: Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Chairman, and others.

Witnesses: Lt. Colonel Darrin Curtis, former Air Force Bioenvironmental Flight Commander at Joint Base Balad; Rick Lamberth, former KBR employee; Russell Keith, former KBR medic; Dr. Anthony Szema, MD, expert on health impact of burn pit smoke.

WHAT: Congressional oversight hearing

WHERE:                Room 628 Dirksen Senate Office Building

WHEN: 10:00 AM, Friday, November 6, 2009

WHY: To examine the health impact of burn pit smoke on U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan , whether the Army is providing exposed soldiers and veterans with accurate information about the risks, and whether contractor KBR is safely operating the burn pits.

Posted in KBR, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Is this any way to treat our heroes

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on October 31, 2009

The following post by Joan E Dowlin at Huffington Post does not mention that this hero should be receiving treatment for his PTSD under the Defense Base Act.

A close family friend’s son recently returned from Afghanistan where he had been working as a government contractor for the US war there. He is a Veteran Marine who joined in 2002 right after terrorists flew airplanes into the World Trade Center buildings on 9/11/01. He unselfishly wanted to serve his country and defend us from these attacks.

He was readily accepted by the United States Marine Corp. and his fellow soldiers, having been voted #1 Honor Man of his boot camp even though he was at least 10 years older than most of his peers. He worked his way up to Staff Sergeant and was so well liked by his battalion that they resisted sending him out to the battlefield. They didn’t want to lose him.

But go to war he did with tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He served proudly with many honors and awards until 2006 when he started contract work in Afghanistan.

He has a wife and young son, two parents and a sister who love him dearly. You can imagine his family’s sense of relief every time he returned home safely and in one piece after each tour of duty. His last trip home in September of this year seemed as any other, but then something very strange and frightening happened. He tried to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head. Luckily, he was a bad shot and survived, ending up needing surgery to repair his eye socket, but the emotional damage is the harder part to heal. We are told he is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which afflicts many soldiers and anyone who has been in life threatening situations. We can only imagine what horrors he has endured being in a war zone off and on for over six years.

This is where we are failing our heroes and veterans. How can Congress pass a $680 billion defense authorization bill on October 22, 2009 to keep spending money and sending soldiers to die or be maimed overseas and not allocate enough for their recovery when they return?

The mother of this heroic Marine informed me that they wanted to get their son transferred to a VA hospital near them so they could visit and support him. Initially, the local VA hospital said no because they didn’t want to take responsibility for this ex-soldier being a danger to himself and others. Then they changed their mind and agreed to admit him, only to days later refuse to take him once again. Finally, they admitted him as a patient the following week. The family has been “tearing their hair out” over the bureaucratic red tape and hoops they have had to go through just to get their son treatment. Hasn’t this family suffered enough from this tragic event? Why has our country’s military hospital system failed them in their greatest hour of need?

So now that he is in the hospital, all is well, right? Well, not exactly. I am told he is currently in a four week Substance Abuse program, although he maintains he does not have an alcohol or drug problem. He agreed to go on the program because the waiting list is far shorter than the PTSD list. Once he began the treatment classes he realized he didn’t relate to the others because it was for “the worst of the worst — guys who have sold their children for alcohol or have drunk rubbing alcohol,” his mother has told me. “But he is choosing to stay because it is important to his future to be able to say he completed the program, however inadequate it is.”

The PTSD program is six weeks long and even though our favorite son is rated at the 90% level on the VA scale of PTSD, he doesn’t qualify because again it is for the worst of the worst and has a very long waiting list. I am told by his parents that thinking six weeks will cure PTSD is like “putting a band-aid on cancer.” The only other approach these government-run hospitals have is to give the patients an RX for anti-depressants and a monthly check from Uncle Sam. To quote our courageous soldier’s mom: “Doesn’t cure a thing.”

She says and I wholeheartedly agree: “It is quite criminal how we’re treating the vets from yet again, another war.” These brave souls have risked lives, limbs, and psyches to keep us safe. They are our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, and aunts and uncles. They are true American heroes.

I recently saw an alarming statistic that said that 43% of homeless males over 25 are veterans. What kind of a country are we when the men and women who fight for us overseas return to a system that neglects and discards them at home? Where is the moral outrage?

If you feel as I do, then join me and other friends and family members of these selfless veterans and write to your Representatives, Senators and the President and demand that more be done to care for our returning war heroes.

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

Military Contractor Awaits Medical Treatment Two Years Later

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 23, 2009

Two and a half years ago, Texan Mark McLean found himself “running for his life” one hot evening on a military base in Baghdad.

It was, according to McLean, “the number one shelled base in Iraq for a couple of years” “ and just such a mortar Mark McLeanevent sent McLean, a Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc. water purification technician, scrambling for cover during the workday’s second shift.

According to McLean, he slid under a flight of stairs, hurting his right knee. When the shelling was over, he raised himself to his 6-foot-plus height, hitting his head on the edge of the staircase and compressing his spine. It was the night of April 7, 2007.

On the following day, McLean says a KBR medic advised him to soldier on.

“‘If you tell anybody about it, you’re probably going to get fired,’” McLean reported the medic to have said. “So I worked another year, not knowing how injured I was, but it got to the point where I couldn’t even walk to the dining facility once a day.”

McLean, who is now a part-time resident of Waring in Kendall County, said he’s received minimal medical attention since the initial injury, a deteriorating condition that’s left him crippled by constant pain.

After 12 months of wait-and-see during which his injuries didn’t resolve themselves, McLean ended up in Kuwait City, visiting a physician who pushed for “immediate surgery.”

That recommendation was made in the spring of 2008. Since McLean’s return to the U.S. in May of that year, he said he’s waited “ and waited “ and continues to wait “ for AIG, KBR’s insurance carrier under the Defense Base Act, to decide if McLean’s claim is legitimate.

Apparently, McLean’s problems are not unique. In June of this year, the Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing revealingly entitled “After Injury, the Battle Begins: Evaluating Workers’ Compensation for Civilian Contractors in War Zones.”

During the hearing, two contract workers testified that AIG “delayed and denied” their claims for months that dragged into years. In addition, a December 2007 Army audit revealed that almost $300 million that AIG received in taxpayer-funded premiums were being paid out at a rate of less than 4 percent.

Last year, congressional investigators calculated that insurance companies had collected $1.5 billion in premiums, while estimating that these companies would spend approximately $900 million in compensation.

The generally accepted numbers reveal that although thousands of contractors have been injured while working jobs on American bases, AIG is reporting profits that range between 37 to 50 percent.

In April of this year, an investigation conducted by ProPublica, ABC News and the Los Angeles Times maintained that AIG is “battling” civilian contractor claims by “routinely” denying them. According to the investigation, outstanding claims to AIG account for most of an insurance inventory including claims by more than 32,000 laborers or their families injured or killed in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

McLean certainly feels himself to be one of what some are calling the “Disposable Army.” His status as a contract worker has earned the technician and others like him, a spot in a dusty and forgotten back drawer.

Nobody cares, McLean said, because of the preconceived notions that contract workers endure. People believe he made huge sums of money, according to McLean, when in fact his paycheck stub reveals that he made $14.95 an hour, clocking 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

Others doubt his very motivation “ his patriotism – McLean said.

“I’ve had a woman spit on me and call me a mercenary. A lot of Army guys feel that way too, but I faced dangers too and I didn’t make that much money,” he said. “Where military gets people coming up to them and thanking them for being a hero “ you know, I’ve been spit upon.”

The ProPublica, ABC News and Los Angeles Times investigation reports that Texas has suffered a surprisingly high number of contractor casualties per capita ” 22 contractors have been injured or killed for every 100,000 people. It’s the second highest rate in the nation after Washington D.C.

Every four military casualties are matched by one civilian contractor death.

But McLean doesn’t so much care about these statistics aside from how they might affect his insurance hearing that has been delayed many times.

Mostly, McLean said he would just like for his pain to be addressed.

“Right now my lower back feels like it’s got a knife going in it,” McLean said. “I’ve got pain radiating down both legs and both my feet feel like they’re on fire. I live in constant pain “ constant pain, life-altering pain. And there’s nothing I can do to not feel pain. Chronic pain wears you down. You can’t concentrate.”

He’d also like to be recognized as having served the United States. Excluded earlier from military service because of asthma, McLean said he was excited, to be going to Baghdad.

“I was finally getting to do something for my country.” Instead he said, he hears comments like, “Oh, you really didn’t do anything.”

McLean keenly feels this dismissal.

“You don’t get used to living in a place like that,” he said of his service in Baghdad. “You don’t get used to putting your friends in body bags.”

Six of his civilian friends were killed by shelling during the course of the three years he was in Iraq.

“It’s so unpleasant there. You’re constantly worn out, you’re constantly tired “ it’s just a dangerous, nasty, horrible place,” McLean said, “but I kept doing it.”

Thirty days after he returned to San Antonio, McLean tried to log onto his KBR employee accounts, and that’s how he found out he’d been fired while on medical leave. “Not one person has contacted me,” McLean said. “My life is on hold.”

Living expenses for the past year have chewed through his savings, and he said he knows that under the Defense Base Act, AIG isn’t likely to grant any compensation for pain and suffering. McLean is asking for the past year’s wages and medical help.

Almost 30 months have passed since his injury and McLean’s claim is still in limbo.

Meanwhile, the Houston Business Journal reported in January that KBR was granted another $35.4 million contract for further work in Iraq.

“This whole thing is a travesty,” McLean said. “I resisted telling this story for awhile, but I think people ought to know. I served my country too, and I’ve been forgotten.”

Editors note:  As often happens when you interview with small time journalists who are just banging out a story there are misquotes and omissions that alter the facts in this story and are not exactly the way that Mark expressed them.

Read original story here

Posted in AIG and CNA, KBR | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Congressman Announces Plan to Reform US System to Care for Injured Civilian Contractors

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 9, 2009

by T. Christian Miller, ProPublica – September 9, 2009 5:20 pm EDT
Rep. Elijah Cummings (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Rep. Elijah Cummings (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said Wednesday that he will introduce legislation later this year to improve the delivery of medical care to civilian contractors injured while working with the military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Cummings declined to provide details about his proposal but said he hoped it would reduce the $300 million a year paid by defense contractors to insurance companies.

“The system is broken, and the insurance companies have reaped the benefits,” said Cummings, who pushed for hearings [1] earlier this year after investigations [2] by ProPublica, ABC News and the Los Angeles Times found that insurance carriers routinely denied claims by injured contractors.

A new study released today found that insurance carriers charge defense contractors far higher rates in war zones to cover routine injuries and accidents. That baffles congressional officials, who have noted that the government separately pays for all war-related injuries to civilian contractors. Why, they ask, should it cost significantly more to insure an employee in Iraq against a slip or fall then one in Tunisia?

“The industry report underscores the need for major reforms of a very expensive and broken system that ostensibly is designed to help private contract workers in places like Iraq and Afghanistan,” Sen. Bernie Saunders, I-Vt., said in a statement. “Insurance companies such as A.I.G. should not make unjustifiable profits by overcharging the U.S. government for basic workers compensation. During the June congressional oversight hearing, I pressed the Pentagon and the Department of Labor to make the necessary reforms so wounded workers get the support they deserve. The Pentagon has said that the recommendations will be on my desk next week and I will take a hard look at their ideas.”

The study by insurance broker Aon Corp. was an anonymous survey involving 18 defense contractors which purchase the specialized workers compensation policies required under a federal law known as the Defense Base Act [3]. Most of the firms said they were charged higher rates for workers compensation insurance in Iraq and Afghanistan than for comparable workers hired in other foreign countries.

In some cases, defense companies in Iraq and Afghanistan paid more than double for the insurance, which covers medical costs and disability benefits for injured civilians. One defense firm paid 18 percent of its payroll for insurance — meaning that the company had to spend $18,000 to purchase a single worker’s compensation policy for an employee making $100,000 a year.

The cost of such policies became controversial after 9/11, when rates skyrocketed as civilian contractors flooded into Iraq and Afghanistan. An arm of troubled insurance giant AIG, recently renamed Chartis, sold the bulk of the policies, turning an obscure and lightly regulated insurance line into a billion-dollar business.

Taxpayers ultimately pay for the insurance as part of the cost of federal contracts.

Congressional investigators and government auditors have accused AIG and other carriers of exploiting a market with limited competition to overcharge for the insurance, pointing to profit margins as high as 40 percent on some policies [4]. Insurance firms, however, have said that higher premiums reflect heightened risks of routine injury in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Aon study found that AIG continued to control “significant” market share, but was facing increased competition from ACE Group and Zurich Financial Services Group. Aon concluded that “key factors” driving rates included things such as market competition, the type of work performed by employees and local conditions.

Charlie Skinner, the Aon managing director in charge of the market survey, noted that Iraq’s roads are in poor shape after six years of war, raising the possibility of more road accidents. The survey did not directly examine, however, whether underwriters factored in war hazards in determining policy rates. “You might need to talk to underwriters to drill into that. We don’t get inside their rating models,” Skinner said.

The study, the largest of its kind to date, mirrors earlier findings by the GAO and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. It comes as the Defense Department prepares later this fall to release recommendations on ways to overhaul the system.

One option under consideration would replace private insurance with government insurance — a potential blow to Aon and other firms in the industry. Skinner said Aon had contributed “factual” material to the Defense Department, but he declined to say whether the firm had recommended a course of action.

“As in most insurance and risk management decisions, there’s often not a black and white answer,” he said.

Cummings said the new legislation would “create some cost containment and improve the care for the brave men and women assisting the military.”

Aon Defense Industry Report 2009

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Labor Day Message to Hilda Solis, Secretary, US Department of Labor

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 6, 2009

Having just read your  Labor Day Statement,  we are convinced that Injured Overseas Contractors and their imagesfamilies are nowhere on your radar screen.

You say that over the last seven months you have met with many individuals and organizations.   We were disappointed that you did not respond to our requests to meet with you.   We had asked to discuss, in a helpful and positive way, the inequities these Injured Contractors suffer under the Defense Base Act which your department oversees.

You ask us in your statement to personally commit to play a role in the recovery of our economy and our nation. To reach out to those needing help.  To do the work that will keep America Working.

Hilda Solis we ask you to personally commit that your/our Department of Labor allow us the opportunity to recover physically, mentally, and economically as the law provides under the Defense Base Act.

Reach out to your Department of Labor who is charged with ensuring that Defense Base Act Workers’ Compensation benefits are provided for covered employees promptly and correctly.

Do the work, get to know your OWCP/DHWLC/DBA,  your OALJ’s, and BRB’s.

Open your eyes to who is standing in the way of ensuring that DBA benefits are provided for covered Injured Contractors promptly and correctly.

Read some of the decisions your ALJ’s make based on the testimony of questionable doctors, witnesses, and evidence.

Question  the person who was put in charge of Policy, Regulations and Procedures for the Defense Base Act who cut her teeth with AIG and CNA’s defense lawyers and helped promote their biased book via this position of public service.

Look into the knee jerk, biased recommendations that come from some of your District Directors and some of their Claims Examiners.

Do they work for you, the injured contractor, the taxpayer or do they serve their own purpose?

Ask why CNA and AIG are never fined as the law requires for multitudes of blatant infractions of the law year after year.

Ask why CNA, AIG and the lawyers get away with relentlessly continuing hearings, thus dragging claims out for six years and longer while refusing to pay for medical and disability to the injured worker but buffing up their own financial award.

Some of these hearings will make public record of damning information vital to many other claims, including many that were already denied and will have to be re-examined.

Is your DoL helping to keep this information in the dark?

Will your legacy be the continued abuse of thousands of Injured Americans and Foreigners working on US Contracts when you personally could have stepped in and made this CHANGE?

What a stimulus to the economy it would be to get Injured Overseas Contractors and/or their families back to being the contributing members of America that they were working on behalf of when they were injured or killed working in countries all over the world.

The only stimulus the DBA currently provides is to insurance companies like  AIG and CNA, hordes of lawyers,  and your department facilitates it.

You came to us with the promise that there was a new sheriff in town and that you would be heard.

Make our Labor Day, be heard, speak up about these abuses to Injured Contractors and demand that they stop.

Maybe then, hopefully together, we can assure that the Defense Base Act is implemented as Congress intended.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Sometimes It’s Not Your War, But You Sacrifice Anyway

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 14, 2009

T. Christian Miller has been investigating and reporting on contractor issues for the LA Times and ProPublica.  The following is a heartfelt commentary on the plight of the injured war zone worker both domestic and foreign.
The exploitation and abandonment of these foreign workers at the hands of our corporate war profiteers, that includes you CNA and AIG,  needs to remain a prominent issue in our battle with the DBA here in the States.
Thank you T for your huge efforts and the credibility you bring to our cause.
By T. Christian Miller
Sunday, August 16, 2009

Washington Post Opinions

To outsource the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States has turned to the cheapest labor possible. About two-thirds of the 200,000 civilians working under federal contracts in the war zones are foreigners. Many come from poor, Third World countries. Others are local hires.

These low-paid foreign workers face many of the same risks soldiers do. Mortars have killed Filipinos who served meals in mess halls. Assassins have targeted Iraqis translating for soldiers. Roadside bombs have ripped into trucks driven by Turkish nationals. These workers have been wounded like soldiers. They have died like soldiers.

The United States has a system to provide care for such civilian casualties. Developed in the 1940s, it is an obscure type of workers’ compensation insurance, funded by taxpayers and overseen by the Labor Department. Mandated by a law called the Defense Base Act, the system requires almost every federal contractor working abroad to purchase insurance to cover injuries arising from work or war, for all employees, American or foreign.

American civilian workers have had trouble enough getting payment for their injuries. AIG, the primary provider of such insurance, has battled them over everything from prosthetic legs to treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, according to court records and interviews. But at least the Americans have a fighting chance.

For foreign workers, the system has not even come close to delivering on its promises. In Nepal, I spoke with a family in a remote valley of tumbling rivers and jewel-green rice fields. After neighbors heard news reports over the radio, the family watched an Internet video that showed that their son had been executed in a dusty ditch in western Iraq on his way to work at a base for U.S. soldiers. Neither the company nor the United States had made any effort to contact them. The elderly couple, who had relied upon their son’s salary, wondered how they would survive.


Nearly 1,600 civilian workers have died in Iraq, and more than 35,000 have reported injuries. Since 2001, Congress has held scores of hearings for injured veterans, but only two for injured contractors. The Government Accountability Office has published more than 100 studies on veterans’ benefits since March 2003. It has done two on the Defense Base Act.

Nor, with a few exceptions, have the contract firms stepped forward for their employees. No company leads a charge to fix the system. Notably silent is Washington Group International, a major contractor in Iraq. The company, which has reported 19 deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, was once known as Morrison Knudsen. Now part of URS Corp., the company declined to answer questions about contractor deaths.   Full Story here

This story at Propublica

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

DBA CNA Casualty Anniversary

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 7, 2009

Congratulations Merlin Clark

membership drive[1]Today has been six years since you were blown up in Iraq and your claim is still being denied by CNA with no end in sight.

dad in the hole[1]

Thanks to everyone who has played a part in dragging this claim out, stopping his payments,  denying his medical,  and Generally making his life much more difficult than necessary.

You’d think he’d given enough already.

!!!!!!!!!!!!! And as if six years weren’t long enough  CNA’s  “He who must not be named”  just asked for a continuance !!!!!!!!!!!!

and another one,  what the hell  !!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted in AIG and CNA, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Department of Labor, Exclusive Remedy, Interviews with Injured War Zone Contractors, PTSD and TBI, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Local defense contractor, Tim Newman, to take health care saga before Congress

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 12, 2009

Local defense contractor to take health care saga before Congress


Tim Newman traversed the five miles of bomb-blasted highway connecting the Baghdad Airport to the Green Zone every day for more than a year as he worked for a Virginia-based defense contractor training Iraqi police officers.

But a trip down the highway — thought by many to be the world’s most dangerous road — in September 2005 forever altered the life of the 44-year-old former Marine and Beaufort County Sheriff’s deputy.

Newman’s winding — and sometimespainful — four-year journey continues next week with an appearance before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Newman, originally from Charleston, took a job with DynCorp International in 2004 after nearly 20 years with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.

“I went overseas on a(civilian police) contract, training new and existing Iraqi police officers,” he said. “There were about 700 American cops over there doing the same things. We were on one-year contracts, but I decided to stay longer.”

Newman was four months into another one-year contract with DynCorp on Sept. 5, 2005.

“I was part of a small movement detail, moving police officers and other people like us,” he said. “We were leaving our compound when an (improvised explosive device) detonated along our route.”

The blast killed Newman’s passenger, Vince Kimbrell, a Spartanburg police officer, and left Newman badly injured.

“I lost my right leg, my left leg was shattered, my left arm was shattered and I had a deep chest wound that extended from my right lung to my left kidney,” he said. “I managed to drag myself down the road, where I was picked up by the rest of my team.”

Doctors put Newman into a drug-induced coma. He awoke 22 days later in a German hospital. He chose to return home and continue his care at Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah.

After undergoing months of physical therapy and getting fitted for a $100,000 prosthetic leg, Newman became an advocate for other injured contractors injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.Newman battled with DynCorps’ insurance company for nearly three years over his advanced prosthetic — the insurance company initially agreed only to pay for a $50,000 model — and said injured contractors deserve uniform treatment when receiving medical care.

Because of his advocacy work, Newman was asked by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, a committee chaired by Rep. Ed Towns, D-N.Y., to testify about possible reforms to a 60-year-old law that regulates how government contractors insure their workers.

Congress created the Defense Base Act in 1941 to provide workers’ compensation protection to government contractors working at U.S. defense bases abroad.

Under the act, companies working in Iraq, such as DynCorp, were required to obtain insurance for all employees. However, the cost of insurance premiums are passed on to the government,which reimburses insurance carriers for benefits paid to workers who are injured or killed by a “war-risk hazard,” according to a 2005 Government Accountability Office report. The report was written after more than 100 congressmen asked the GAO to examine a number of Iraq-related issues, including those associated with insuring contractors and the cost of those policies to the federal government.

Newman said the government is being overcharged and insurance companies make too much profit under the Defense Base Act arrangement.

“It’s crazy,” he said. “The insurance companies are trying to treat us like everyone else and that’s a big part of the problem. We have a law that covers how we are insured and how we should get medical care.”

Contractors and their employees have played a prominent role in U.S. foreign policy in Iraq, a role not foreseen by legislators when crafting the Defense Base Act in 1941, the GAO report said.

According to the report, contractors in Iraq were involved in rebuilding hospitals and schools, restoring valuable oil infrastructure and strengthening local governments.

“It’s the cost of war,” Newman said. “This is the right thing to do. Too many people have been injured in this war and then spent a year or more trying to get medical care.”

Newman was working Friday at his Lady’s Island home on a five-minute statement he will make to open his testimony.

“I’m a little nervous,” he said. “But at the end of the day, they work for me.”

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KBR and AWOL Medical Records

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 10, 2009

In nearly every DBA claim reported to us by a KBR employee or their widow medical records from their time in Iraq or Afganistan are not available.

 KBR has been allowed to  ignore production requests during interrogatories.

 Injured War Zone Contractors are stuck in the Administrative Law System,  so KBR faces no legal liability for failing to turn over documents.

 The contractors face waiting forever, or going forward with the case with no medical records or payroll records.

  According to our sources, our claimants, no attorney has had success in forcing production of records.

 That won’t change until the plaintiff’s attorneys get more aggressive and begin filing motions for sanctions.

 If you are an Injured Contractor and KBR or any other employer has failed to produce your medical records from your time in their employ ask your lawyer if they have filed a motion for sanctions against them.

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