by David Phinney
Sunday June 16th 2019

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Contractors Battle for Insurance Coverage

by David Phinney

The news media increasingly recognize the hidden cost of war and the injured contractor’s fight for insurance coverage continues rising in recognition.

Contractor Samuel Walker just may becoming the poster child/guy for telling the story:

When Walker got back to the U.S., he brought some of the battlefield home with him. He heard phantom screams in broad daylight, smelled gunpowder that wasn’t there. A loud noise would send him into a defensive crouch. He’d been eating French fries in the mess hall at the time of the blast, and the sight of a McDonald’s restaurant now brought back violent memories…. Walker said that he understood that working in Iraq could be risky, but that he never expected his toughest battles to take place after he returned home…. Insurance company officials “were fighting because they didn’t want to pay,” said Walker, 46, a Georgia resident. “Whatever they could do to keep it going as long as possible, they did. They were hoping that I would give up and let it go.”

Read about Samuel Walker’s story and others on page one ofThe Los Angeles Times ‘War, Red Tape Haunt Civilian Workers.’

A Times investigation of a taxpayer-financed insurance system, based on reviews of scores of cases, has found a pattern of repeatedly blocked claims for treatment of psychological injuries sustained by civilian workers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Walker also has been featured by Dan Rather Reports.

I wrote about Walker and the overall insurance several years ago in ‘Adding Insult to Injury.’ It was the kind of story at the time where liberals received it as stupid pandering to greedy contractors and conservatives called it anti-American. I just found it compelling as an unplanned consequence of privatized war. Contractors may just be the latest chapter in America’s sometimes short attention span for those who fought in a controversial war. Remember all the homeless Vietnam vets?

The LA Times Notes:

Steven Birnbaum, a San Rafael lawyer who specializes in Defense Base Act cases, believes many psychological problems go unreported. Unlike the Department of Defense, which keeps track of post-traumatic stress in soldiers, no government agency monitors the mental health of contractors.
“Contractors have no support. They don’t have the VA [Veterans Affairs]. They don’t have the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans,” Birnbaum said.

“We’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg. We’re at the beginning of a deluge,” he said.

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