Here is the transcript from HDNet’s Dan Rather Reports. Some of what is in this transcript was recorded at a gathering back last February. I am waiting for a DVD copy of the show. When I get it, I will post it on my web site and here for you to see. For now, you will just have to read about it.

DAN RATHER REPORTS

Episode Number: 217

Episode Title: Civilians at War

Description: Tens of thousands of American citizens are serving their country in Iraq as civilian contractors. They are the untold story of the war with hundreds killed and wounded.

Transcript:

TONIGHT CIVILIANS AT WAR. (GUN SHOTS) THEY JUST KILLED HIM. OH JESUS OH MY GOD! THE UNSEEN AND UNTOLD STORY OF CONTRACTORS CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE IN IRAQ. I FIGURED WE WERE ALL GOING TO BE KILLED. AND THEY STARTED JUST BOMBARDING US WITH ROCKS. YOU COULD SEE THERE WAS A TRENCH THAT WAS DUG ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE ROAD AND I’M THINKING THIS IS GOING TO BE BAD.

FOUR YEARS INTO THE WAR IN IRAQ MOST AMERICANS HAVE BECOME FAMILIAR WITH THE NUMBERS. MORE THAN 140,000 MEN AND WOMEN IN UNIFORM SERVING THEIR COUNTRY. MORE THAN 3300 DEAD AND AT LEAST 26000 INJURED. THESE FIGURES REPRESENT THE WAR’S PUBLIC BALANCE SHEET. BUT THERE IS ANOTHER TALLY, ANOTHER LEDGER WITH WHICH MOST CITIZENS ARE NOT FAMILIAR AND THAT SET OF NUMBERS TELLS THE HIDDEN STORY OF THE AMERICANS SERVING IN IRAQ AS CIVILIAN CONTRACTORS. HOW MANY ARE THERE? THIS PAST DECEMBER THE PENTAGON CENTRAL COMMAND COUNTED OFFICIALLY 100,000 MEN AND WOMEN, SOME PROVIDING SECURITY AND OTHERS PERFORMING SUPPORT SERVICES, COOKING MEALS, DOING LAUNDRY AND DRIVING SUPPLY TRUCKS FOR THE MILITARY JUST LIKE THEY’RE COUNTERPARTS IN UNIFORM, THESE OFTEN UNARMED CIVILIANS SERVING IN IRAQ HAVE ALSO FOUND THEMSELVES IN THE CROSSHAIRS OF THE INSURGENCY AND SECTARIAN VIOLENCE.

IT IS ONE OF THE UNTOLD STORIES OF THE IRAQ WAR.

HUNDREDS OF TRUCK CONVOYS CRISS CROSSING THE COUNTRY DELIVERING MUCH NEEDED SUPPLIES TO U.S. TROOPS. MANY OF THE MEN AND WOMEN IN THE CABS ARE NOT SOLDIERS BUT CIVILIANS, UNARMED AMERICAN CIVILIANS. THEY ARE PART OF A MORE THAN 100,000 STRONG FORCE OF PRIVATE CONTRACTORS IN IRAQ DOING SOME OF THE MOST DANGEROUS JOBS IN THE WORLD. ON OCTOBER 28, 2004, THE LEAD FUEL TRUCK IN THIS CONVOY HIT A MINE. THERE WAS NOTHING IN THE ROAD. EVEN THE KBR DRIVER SAID THERE WAS NOTHING IN THE ROAD. A MINE WAS PLANTED A SOLDIER IN THE CONVOY CAN BE HEARD ON THE RADIO AS ANOTHER SOLDIER FARTHER BACK VIDEOTAPED THE ATTACK.

THE DRIVER OF THE FUEL TRUCK, JOHN WOODSON, A CIVILIAN FROM TEXAS, BARELY SURVIVED THE EXPLOSION. I RAN OVER THE TANK MINE. IT– IT IGNITED AND BLEW ME UP. IT BLEW ME THROUGH THE TOP OF THE CEILING OF THE– TRUCK AND OUT– UP TO 50 TO 60 FOOT AWAY FROM THE VEHICLE. AND I LANDED OUT IN THE DESERT. WOODSON HAD BEEN IN IRAQ FOR JUST FOUR MONTHS WORKING FOR KBR, FORMERLY A DIVISION OF HALLIBURTON. HE LOST A LEG AND MOST OF HIS EYESIGHT. ALL I REMEMBER IS SOLDIERS WORKING ON ME AT THAT POINT AND THEY KEPT TELLING ME TO STAY WITH ‘ EM, STAY WITH ‘ EM, DON’T DIE, DON’T GO. PRIOR TO GOING TO IRAQ I HAD 20/20 VISION IN BOTH EYES AND AFTER THESE INJURIES NOW I HAVE 37% VISION IN THE LOWER PART OF MY RIGHT EYE AND I CANNOT SEE AT ALL IN MY LEFT EYE. BEFORE THE WAR WOODSON HAD BEEN WORKING AS A WELL-PAID CONSTRUCTION SUPERVISOR IN HOUSTON. HE SIGNED ON TO REBUILD IRAQI OIL REFINERIES IN THE SPRING OF 2004 WHEN A HEADHUNTER FOR K-B-R OFFERED HIM A JOB

HE WANTED ME TO GO OVER TO WORK IN THE PETROCHEMICAL INDUSTRY. I GUESS THE– IN THE COURSE OF A COUPLE MONTHS THOUGH TIMES HAD CHANGED. THEY SAID THERE WAS A HOLD ON THAT BUT– WOULD I WANNA GO AS FAR AS THE TRUCKING DIVISION? AND SO I TOLD HIM, “YES.” BECAUSE I WANTED TO DO MY PART FOR MY COUNTRY.

AFTER THE BOMB BLAST AND EMERGENCY CARE IN IRAQ, WOODSON WAS FLOWN HOME. NO LONGER ABLE TO WORK HE HAD TO FIND A LAWYER TO HELP HIM GET THE MEDICAL BENEFITS HE’D BEEN PROMISED. HE FELT COMFORTABLE– TELLING ME ABOUT HIS PROBLEMS. ABOUT HIS MEDICAL ISSUES. ABOUT HIS HEALTH. AND– AND HIS CARE HE WAS GIVING– GETTING. AND SO HE ASKED ME TO KINDA HELP HIM OUT. COLE SPENT MORE THAN A YEAR BATTLING BOTH K-B-R, AND ITS INSURANCE COMPANY, AND DEMANDING HELP FROM GOVERNMENT AGENCIES. HE WON WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CLAIMS AND MADE SURE WOODSON GOT MEDICAL COVERAGE UNDER A FEDERAL PROGRAM. BUT IN THE PROCESS TOBY COLE LEARNED HOW LITTLE ANYONE KNOWS ABOUT THE USE OF PRIVATE CONTRACTORS IN IRAQ. I THINK JUST ABOUT ANYTIME OVER THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS YOU CAN FIND ON THE INTERNET OR ON TV HOW MANY SOLDIERS HAVE– BEEN INJURED. YOU CAN’T FIND HOW MANY CONTRACTORS WERE INJURED. YOU CAN’T FIND HOW MANY WERE– WERE BLOWN UP. HOW MANY WERE SENT BACK, DISABLED. THAT INFORMATION ISN’T OUT THERE. AND SO IF YOU BLOW UP A CONTRACTOR– IT’S NOT THAT BIG OF A DEAL. BECAUSE THE PUBLIC REALLY DOESN’T KNOW ABOUT IT. EVEN THOUGH JOHN WOODSON WAS CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE OF WAR, HE WASN’T COUNTED IN THE PENTAGON’S RECORD OF THE WOUNDED. IN FACT, THERE IS NO OFFICIAL MILITARY RECORD OF INJURIES TO PRIVATE CONTRACTORS. THE ONLY GOVERNMENT OFFICE THAT TRACKS CONTRACTORS IS A SMALL AGENCY THAT ADMINISTERS WORKERS COMPENSATION PROGRAMS IN THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR. FOUR YEARS INTO THIS WAR. THE RECORD SHOWS THAT 770 PRIVATE CONTRACTORS HAVE DIED AND ALMOST 8000 HAVE BEEN INJURED. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MANY TOTAL PEOPLE ARE INVOLVED? WELL THE LATEST CENSUS SEEMS TO SAY IT’S ABOUT 100,000. ALMOST AS MANY AS THE UNIFORMED MILITARY THAT WE HAVE IN– IN IRAQ. NO ONE THINKS ABOUT THAT. REPRESENTATIVE JAN SCHAKOWSKY, A DEMOCRAT FROM ILLINOIS, HAS BEEN ASKING FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE PRIVATE CONTRACTORS, THEIR INJURIES, AND THEIR MISSIONS FOR ALMOST A YEAR. IT’S NEVER TALKED ABOUT. THERE ARE UNCLEAR GUIDELINES OF WHAT THEIR MISSION IS, WHO THEY REPORT TO, WHAT THEIR ACCOUNTABILITY IS. AND AS MEMBERS OF CONGRESS, AND AS MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC, DON’T YOU THINK THAT WE OUGHTA KNOW? WE MAY BE GOING TO THE POINT WHERE WE’RE GONNA HAVE– WAR FOR HIRE. AND THE REST OF US– AS OUR PATRIOTIC DUTY– WILL BE TOLD TO GO SHOP. WELL WHAT ABOUT THE ARGUMENT THAT’S BOUND TO BE PUT FORWARD BY SOME PEOPLE; NOT CONFINED TO THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT. THAT THERE OUGHTA BE SECRETS ABOUT THIS. THAT OUR ENEMIES AND POTENTIAL ENEMIES SHOULDN’T KNOW OUR FULL CAPACITY. AND THEREFORE KEEP ALL THIS OFF THE RADAR SCREEN. I THINK IN A DEMOCRACY, IF YOU HAVE AN ADMINISTRATION DECIDING, “WELL WE WON’T SAY ANYTHING, BUT WE’LL JUST SEND ANOTHER 20,000 THAT WE HIRE.” OR ANOTHER 10,000 THAT WE HIRE. THEN THE SCOPE OF THE WAR IS COMPLETELY UNKNOWN TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. AND I THINK THAT IS VERY DANGEROUS FOR A DEMOCRACY THE CONSTITUTION IS BUILT WITH CHECKS AND BALANCES TO PREVENT GETTING INTO FOREIGN WARS WITHOUT A CAREFUL THOUGHT, AND THE WILL OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE BEHIND IT. MARINE COLONEL THOMAS HAMMES, NOW RETIRED, ARRIVED IN KUWAIT IN 2004 TO HELP TRAIN THE IRAQI ARMY. BEHIND THE FRONT LINES, HE FOUND PRIVATE CONTRACTORS A WELCOME ADDITION TO AMERICAN FORCES. THEY MAINTAINED THE BASES, THE CAMPS, THE FACILITIES, THE TRUCK DRIVERS. MUCH BETTER TO HAVE 40 YEAR OLD TRUCK DRIVERS WHO’VE BEEN PUSHIN’ TRUCKS FOR 20 YEARS DRIVING AROUND THE MIDDLE EAST. RATHER THEN OUR 18 YEAR OLD TRUCK DRIVERS. WHO IT’S THEIR FIRST TIME OUT ON– IN THIS AREA. DO YOU THINK MOST AMERICANS KNOW ABOUT THIS BUSINESS OF CONTRACTING OUT PART OF OUR WAR EFFORT? I THINK MOST AMERICANS DON’T KNOW AND I THINK ONE OF THE REASONS THEY DON’T IS CONTRACTORS ARE TREATED ALMOST LIKE THEY’RE NOT AMERICANS. EVERYBODY’S “SUPPORT THE TROOPS. SUPPORT THE TROOPS.” THE CONTRACTORS ARE GOING THROUGH THE SAME THING; GETTING SHOT UP AND BEING WOUNDED. BUT NOBODY’S SAYING, “SUPPORT THE CONTRACTORS. SUPPORT THE CONTRACTOR.” WELL WHY DID THE ADMINISTRATION DECIDE TO OUTSOURCE AS MUCH AS IT DID TO THESE CONTRACTORS? I THINK IT WAS AN EFFORT TO SAVE U.S. FORCES. TO CONVINCE PEOPLE THAT WE COULD GO IN LIGHT, NOT STAY VERY LONG, NOT GET BOGGED DOWN. AND– TURN IT OVER TO CONTRACTS. WHAT WORRIED HAMMES WAS THE DEPLOYMENT OF CONTRACTORS OFTEN UNARMED INTO BATTLE ZONES. HAMMES: I GET VERY CONCERNED ANYTIME YOU CROSS INTO AN AREA OF ACTUAL HOSTILITY. SO I WAS GONNA ASK YOU TO MAKE A LIST OF THOSE AREAS WHERE YOU THINK IT’S INAPPROPRIATE TO USE CONTRACTORS. ESSENTIALLY ANYWHERE THEY’RE ARMED. ANY PLACE THAT THE THREAT IS REALLY SIGNIFICANT. AND, OF COURSE, THAT WOULD INCLUDE FOR CONVOY OPERATION IN PLACES– LIKE WE’RE SEEING IN IRAQ TODAY. FROM THE FIRST DAYS OF THE WAR, THOSE CONVOYS SOME STRETCHING FOR MILES DOWN IRAQI HIGHWAYS WERE OFTEN RUN BY CIVILIANS WITH LIMITED MILITARY ESCORTS. WHEN JOHN WOODSON STARTED DRIVING IN IRAQ HE THOUGHT THE FIGHTING WAS OVER. AT THAT PARTICULAR TIME IN ’04 WHEN I DID GO, GEORGE BUSH HAD SAID THE MISSION WAS COMPLETED THERE. AND THAT THINGS HAD BEEN CALMED DOWN AND THAT YOU KNOW, THE US MILITARY WOULD BE THERE PROTECTING THE CIVILIAN WORKERS AS WHAT I WAS. SO I YOU KNOW, READILY WENT. CINDY MORGAN WENT, TOO. SIGNING UP TO DRIVE TRUCKS IN SEPTEMBER 2003. AT THE TIME I WAS TRYING TO GET AWAY FROM AN ABUSIVE HUSBAND, EX-HUSBAND THAT I KEPT RUNNING INTO. A SINGLE MOTHER OF THREE FROM TENNESSEE MORGAN WAS BARELY MAKING ENDS MEET WHEN SHE FOUND OUT SHE COULD MAKE $80-THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR TAX-FREE. WORKING AS A TRUCK DRIVER FOR K-B-R. SHE DID THREE TOURS OVER THREE YEARS. ONCE WHILE HER OLDEST SON KENNY WAS SERVING AS AN ARMY SPECIALIST. I WENT TO SUPPORT THE TROOPS AND MY SON BEING A SOLDIER TO SUPPORT HIM. YOU MENTALLY TRAIN YOURSELF “IF THIS HAPPENS, DO THIS. IF THIS HAPPENS, DO THIS. IF THIS HAPPENS, DO THAT.” SAY AND YOU GO OVER IT SO MANY TIMES IN YOUR HEAD. SO THAT WHEN THAT STUFF HAPPENS. THAT ADRENALINE HITS THAT SYSTEM (CLAP) LIKE A FRICKING BRICK WALL– LATE ONE NIGHT ON A TRIP BACK FROM DELIVERING ICE TO U.S. TROOPS MORGAN TURNED ON HER VIDEO CAMERA MOMENTS AFTER AN ATTEMPTED AMBUSH OF HER CONVOY JUST OUTSIDE BAGHDAD. NOBODY’S HIT, RIGHT -NEGATIVE IT’S ALL RIGHT. IT’S OK. IT’S ALL RIGHT EVERYBODY MOVE TO THE RIGHT, EYEBALLS EVERYBODY.

IN THE WAR’S FIRST YEAR PRIVATE CONTRACTORS WERE RIGHT THERE WITH THE TROOPS AND CASUALTIES AND INJURIES WERE LOW.

BUT AS THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THE INVASION APPROACHED ATTACKS ON BOTH U.S. TROOPS AND CONTRACTORS INCREASED.

WHEN SIX CONTRACTORS WERE KILLED DRIVING A SUPPLY CONVOY ON THE ROAD TO BAGHDAD’S AIRPORT ON APRIL 9, 2004, AMERICANS GOT A NEW PICTURE OF WHAT WAS TO COME.

ATTACKS ON CONVOYS STEADILY INCREASED THROUGHOUT 2004 AND 2005. THEN IN SEPTEMBER 2005 A K-B-R CONVOY DROVE INTO AN AMBUSH WHEN IT TOOK A WRONG TURN.

I FIGURED WE WERE ALL GONNA BE KILLED. THEY STARTED, YOU KNOW, JUST BOMBARDING US WITH ROCKS. AND YOU COULD SEE THERE WAS A TRENCH THAT WAS DUG ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE ROAD. AND I’M THINKING, THIS IS GONNA BE BAD. ART FAUST WAS UNARMED- ALONG WITH ALL OF HIS FELLOW CIVILIAN DRIVERS. THEY COULD ONLY WAIT AND WATCH

” GOD DAMN!

ONE OF THE SURVIVORS–PRESTON WHEELER– VIDEOTAPED THE EXECUTION OF A DRIVER IN A TRUCK AHEAD OF HIM. IN THE END THREE K-B-R EMPLOYEES WERE KILLED.

THEY JUST KILLED HIM. OH JESUS.

THEY JUST KILLED HIM. OH MY GOD

THERE WAS THREE OF US THAT WERE KILLED AND THREE OF US THAT WERE CRITICALLY INJURED.

AND WE HAD TO SIT THERE FOR 20 MINUTES TAKING ON SMALL ARMS FIRE NOT MOVING, JUST SITTING THERE.

EACH YEAR ACROSS IRAQ CONTRACTORS CONTINUE TO DO THE SAME DANGEROUS WORK. AT LEAST 60 COMPANIES ARE NOW EMPLOYING CIVILIAN WORKERS. THE BIGGEST IS STILL K-B-R WITH AN $18.5 BILLION DOLLAR CONTRACT TO PROVIDE FOOD, LODGING AND SUPPLIES FOR THE TROOPS AND TO HELP REBUILD IRAQ’S INFRASTRUCTURE. WHILE CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES ARE STILL DEMANDING ANSWERS ABOUT THE HIRING, COSTS AND DEPLOYMENT OF SO MANY CIVILIAN CONTRACTORS, THEY GET FEW ANSWERS. BUT DO THE MATH. IF YOU ADD THE 770 CIVILIAN WORKERS KNOWN TO HAVE DIED IN IRAQ TO THE MORE THAN 3300 U.S. MILITARY TROOPS LOST, THE AMERICAN DEATH TOLD IN IRAQ ALONE IS ACTUALLY 25% HIGHER THAN THE AMERICAN PUBLIC HAS BEEN TOLD. WHEN AN AMERICAN SOLDIER IS KILLED OVERSEAS, IT’S REPORTED ON ALL THE MEDIA NETWORKS. ALL THE MAJOR NEWSPAPERS CARRY A DAILY COUNT. MOST AMERICANS KNOW– WITHIN A COUPLE PEOPLE– HOW MANY AMERICAN SOLDIERS, AND MARINES, SAILORS, AND AIRMEN HAVE BEEN KILLED IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN. PEOPLE DON’T HAVE A GUESS HOW MANY CONTRACTORS. THOSE ARE STILL AMERICAN CITIZENS. THOSE ARE AMERICANS WHO VOLUNTEERED TO DO A JOB. GONE OVERSEAS, AND BEEN KILLED FOR IT. AND THERE’S ABSOLUTELY NO VISIBILITY ON IT. COMING UP NEXT WHEN PRIVATE CITIZENS COME HOME FROM WAR. THE CIVILIAN MEN AND WOMEN STRUGGLE WITH THE SAME WOUNDS, PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL AS THE MILITARY TROOPS. BUT WITH LITTLE SUPPORT. AND EVEN LESS RECOGNITION.

RETIRED ARMY SERGEANT FIRST CLASS SAM WALKER WORKS WITH ” AT-RISK” TEENS AT A YOUTH PROGRAM IN GEORGIA. “I USED TO DRIVE A CHEVROLET” (TROOPS REPEAT) THREE AND A HALF YEARS AGO WHEN HE WAS GETTING READY TO LEAVE THE ARMY AFTER 24 YEARS HE HEARD ABOUT A GOOD PAYING JOB— I WENT TO THE JOB FAIR. THEY TOLD ME TO FILL OUT A RESUME. I FILLED OUT A RESUME, AND I SENT IT TO KBR. AND ABOUT A WEEK LATER, I HAD A PHONE CALL SAYING THAT THEY WANTED TO MAKE ME A JOB OFFER. THEY MADE ME A JOB OFFER, AND I ACCEPTED. WALKER WENT TO IRAQ TO WORK FOR KELLOGG, BROWN AND ROOT KNOWN AS K-B-R, THEN STILL A HALLIBURTON SUBSIDIARY, IN 2003. I WENT TO IRAQ, BECAUSE THE MONEY SOUNDED GOOD AND I WANTED TO, YOU KNOW, BUY A HOUSE, BUY A NEW CAR AND ALSO TO CONTINUE TO SERVE MY COUNTRY IN A CERTAIN WAY, YOU KNOW, BY WORKING WITH THE SOLDIERS. K-B-R HAD BILLIONS OF DOLLARS WORTH OF CONTRACTS FOR WORK ALL OVER IRAQ INCLUDING CONSTRUCTION AND MANAGEMENT OF TWO RECREATION CENTERS FOR OFF-DUTY TROOPS. SAM WALKER WAS HIRED TO COORDINATE ACTIVITIES AT ONE OF THOSE CENTERS. THEY WANTED TO HIRE ME AS A MWR COORDINATOR AN MWR COORDINATOR’S RESPONSIBILITY IS MORALE, WELFARE AND RECREATION FOR THE SOLDIERS. HE THOUGHT THE JOB WAS FAR FROM THE FRONT LINES. UNTIL DECEMBER 21, 2004 THAT DAY WALKER WENT TO A K-B-R RUN DINING HALL IN MOSUL. HE WAS ABOUT TO EAT LUNCH WITH A GROUP OF CONTRACTORS WHEN A SUICIDE BOMBER ATTACKED. THERE’S A BIG FLASH, A BIG BRIGHT LIGHT, A FLASH OF LIGHT JUST COMIN’ TOWARD AND I CAN FEEL THE HEAT. NEXT THING I KNEW WHEN I WAKE UP, I’M LAYIN’ ON THE FLOOR SCREAMIN’ AND THERE’S, YOU KNOW, BLOOD AND GUTS AND BODY PARTS ALL OVER THE PLACE, TWENTY AMERICANS DIED FIFTY WERE SOLDIERS AND FIVE CIVILIANS. MORE THAN 60 PEOPLE WERE INJURED. IT WAS THE DEADLIEST SINGLE INCIDENT FOR US TROOPS SINCE THE WAR BEGAN. SAM WALKER HAD BEEN JUST A FEW STEPS AWAY FROM DEATH. WELL, THE CLOTHES THAT I WAS WEARIN’, THEY WAS BURNT FROM THE HEAT FROM THE FLAME. AND THERE WAS A LOT OF COPPER WIRE THAT WAS COMIN’ THAT WAS IN MY CLOTHES, BECAUSE THEY WERE SAYIN’ THAT HOW DID I GET ALL THIS COPPER WIRE. I WAS SO CLOSE TO THE BOMBER THAT THE PEOPLE THAT WAS RIGHT BEHIND ME AND NEXT TO ME, THEY WAS ALL KILLED, YOU KNOW. AND I WAS SO CLOSE TO THE BOMBER THAT THE COPPER WIRE THAT WAS USED IN THE DETONATOR WAS STUCK INSIDE OF MY CLOTHES. WALKER WENT HOME TO GEORGIA TO RECOVER FROM SEVERE HEAD AND BACK INJURIES AND RESIGNED FROM KBR. I STARTED HAVING NIGHTMARES. I START SEEIN’ THINGS THAT LIKE– EXPERIENCIN’ THE BOMBIN’ ALL OVER AGAIN. YOU KNOW? TRYIN’ TO GET THE SMELL OUT OF MY NOSE FROM SMELLIN’ THE BLOOD, YOU KNOW? TRYIN’ TO GET RID OF THE SCREAMS FROM HEARIN’– THE OTHER PEOPLE. AND THEIR SCREAMING. DIAGNOSED WITH POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER -P-T-S-D –BY BOTH HIS OWN AND K-B-R’S INSURANCE COMPANY’S DOCTORS WALKER WAS STUNNED WHEN MEDICAL BENEFITS WERE DENIED. THE INSURANCE COMPANY WOULDN’T PAY FOR ANY TREATMENT FOR PTSD. WALKER HIRED ATTORNEY GARY PITTS WHO REPRESENTED SOLDIERS WITH PTSD WHO FOUGHT IN THE FIRST GULF WAR. THE MILITARY TAKES THIS STUFF SERIOUSLY. THEY BRIEF EVERYBODY COMING OUT OF THE THEATER ON WHAT THE SYMPTOMS ARE. AND IF YOU START HAVING THIS, GO GET SOME HELP. AND THEY CHECK BACK UP ON ‘EM THREE OR FOUR MONTHS AFTER THEY’VE LEFT THE WAR ZONE TO SEE HOW THEY’RE DOING. AND– THE MILITARY HEALTHCARE SYSTEM AND THE V.A. ARE ALL SET UP TO TAKE CARE OF– OF PTSD CASES. ANYWAY, ALL THE CIVILIAN CONTRACTORS DON’T HAVE THIS. MORE THAN A YEAR AFTER THE CLAIM WAS DENIED PITTS WON WALKER’S CASE. BUT HE CONTINUES TO HEAR FROM DOZENS OF PRIVATE CONTRACTORS RETURNING FROM IRAQ. IT PUTS THE INJURED PERSON, OR THE PERSON WITH THESE STRESS SYMPTOMS COMING OUT OF THE WAR ZONE. THAT WENT OVER THERE AND PUT THEIR LIFE AT RISK TO SUPPORT THE TROOPS. THEY’VE GONE THROUGH HELL. THEY COME BACK HERE, AND THEY’VE GOTTA GO THROUGH THIS LITIGATION SYSTEM. K-B-R’S INSURANCE COMPANY A-I-G WOULD NOT COMMENT ON SAM WALKER’S CASE. BUT SAID IN A STATEMENT THAT ” 90 PERCENT OF ALL CONTRACTORS CLAIMS HAVE BEEN PAID WITHOUT DISPUTE” . AT THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, WHERE WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CASES FROM OVERSEAS ARE HANDLED, CLAIMS HAVE SKYROCKETED FROM 366 BEFORE THE WAR STARTED IN 2002 TO 3581 IN 2006. THE NUMBERS ARE EVIDENCE THAT CIVILIANS ARE IN BATTLE ZONES MORE AND MORE OFTEN. BUT UNLIKE THE TROOPS THEY SUPPORT, CONTRACTORS HAVE FAR FEWER RESOURCES TO TURN TO WHEN THEY COME HOME. AS AN AMERICAN, YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE DEBRIEFED OR SOMETHING. I CAME HOME RIGHT TO MY HOUSE. ROB ROWE WAS SHOT IN THE KNEE SIX MONTHS INTO HIS TOUR AS A TRUCK DRIVER IN IRAQ. WE’RE RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF IT. ONE SIDE IS SHOOTING AT US TO RAPPEL THE ATTACKERS, THE ATTACKERS ARE SHOOTING AT THEM AND WE’RE RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF IT. IN FEBRUARY ROWE MET UP WITH HALF A DOZEN OTHER CONTRACTORS HOME FROM IRAQ AT A VFW POST IN KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE. ALL OF THEM LOOKING FOR ANSWERS AND SUPPORT. PEOPLE COMIN’ HOME WITH– DEVASTATING INJURIES. CAUSED BY DIRECT HOSTILE ACTION DEBILITATING INJURIES. THEY CAN’T WORK. THEY’RE NOT GETTING NO COMPENSATION. THEY DON’T PAY BILLS. THEY’RE LOSING THEIR HOMES. THEY’RE HAVING MARITAL PROBLEMS. THEY’RE GOIN’ THROUGH ALL KINDS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBLEMS. THEY’RE LOST, ABANDONED. THE COMPANY’S NOT HELPIN’ THEM. JANA CROWDER BROUGHT THE GROUP TOGETHER THROUGH A WEBSITE SHE FOUNDED IN MAY 2004 WHEN HER HUSBAND LEFT TO WORK AS A CONTRACT ENGINEER IN IRAQ. WHEN I FIRST STARTED, IT WAS JUST YOU KNOW, PUTTING UP THE SUPPORT RIBBONS. I MADE A SUPPORT, MAGNETIC RIBBONS, LIKE I HAVE ON MY SHIRT. AND I STARTED SELLING THOSE ON MY WEBSITE JUST TO SPREAD THE WORD THAT AMERICAN CONTRACTORS ARE OVER THERE IN IRAQ, YOU KNOW, FIGHTING ALONGSIDE OUR SOLDIERS. AND FROM THERE, I’VE GOTTEN HERE. I DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW TO EXPLAIN IT. IT WAS LIKE A WHIRLWIND. THE PHONE CALLS STARTED COMING IN, THE E- MAILS STARTED COMING IN. I OPENED UP A SUPPORT GROUP. LINKED THROUGH THE WEBSITE: AMERICAN CONTRACTORS IN IRAQ.COM THE MEETING IN KNOXVILLE WAS A CHANCE TO FIND A WAY TO COME HOME. I’D DREAM– A LOT– A LOT ABOUT KILLIN’. I MEAN, HONESTLY, I DO. AND I’VE NEVER BEEN THAT WAY. I DON’T SLEEP AT NIGHT, NO MORE. I– TAKE PILLS TO SLEEP AT NIGHT, TO BE HONEST WITH YA. I DON’T– WON’T TAKE ‘EM EVERY NIGHT. SO, SOME NIGHTS I TAKE PILLS. SOME NIGHTS I STAY AWAKE, ALL NIGHT. THE ONE THING THAT STICKS OUT TO MIND IS HAVING A WAKING FLASHBACK OF DRIVING IN MY LITTLE CAR DOWN THE ROAD AND ALL OF THE SUDDEN I HEAR GLASS BREAKING AND I COULD SWEAR THAT I GOT HIT UPSIDE THE HEAD AGAIN. YOU GO INTO A WAR ZONE. IT’S WAR. PEOPLE ARE GONNA DIE. PEOPLE ARE GONNA GET HURT. I ENCOUNTERED A BETTER– GREATER WAR, WHEN I CAME HOME, THAN THE ONE I LEFT BEHIND.

THEY’RE TRUCK DRIVERS, THEY’RE POLICE OFFICERS AND THEY GO OVER THERE WITH A LIVELIHOOD. THEY WANT TO USE OUR LIVELIHOOD TO GO OVER THERE AND HELP THE MILITARY. THEY GET OVER THERE AND THEY GET BROKE, THEY COME HOME AND THEY’VE LOST THEIR LIVELIHOOD, THEY’VE LOST THEIR INTEGRITY. THEY’VE LOST THEIR FAMILIES. THEIR CHILDREN. THERE IS NOTHING FOR THE FAMILIES. THERE IS NOTHING TO TEACH THE WIVES OR CHILDREN HOW TO COPE WITH DAD. WHY IS DAD SCREAMING? WHY IS DAD– YOU KNOW, HE’S SLEEPING ON THE COUCH AND THE NEXT MINUTE, HE’S ON THE FLOOR, DODGING BULLETS. AND THE KIDS ARE JUST LIKE, WHAT’S WRONG WITH DAD? IT’S JUST NOT RIGHT. IT DOES NOT LET– THIS IS NOT THE AMERICAN WAY. IT’S JUST NOT.

Written by WhiteRose

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