I have know T. Christian Miller for several years now and worked with him on several stories back in 2006/2007. I am happy to see that he has not given up on the civilian contractors that are forgotten. The following is a story if his that came out last month. Thank you Mr. Miller, it means a lot to all of us that you are still making sure that the American public is aware that there are civilians serving their country as well.
Honoring Veterans of the Disposable Army
by T. Christian Miller, ProPublica – November 11, 2009 4:14 pm EST
Today we honor the veterans who have served in the country’s armed forces. Nobody seriously questions whether they deserve such recognition. The men and women who defended this country and fought its wars made immeasurable sacrifices.
I have spent much of the last year writing about another group of people who suffered losses on behalf of U.S. interests abroad: the civilian contractors injured or killed while doing their jobs in Iraq and Afghanistan.
They are not, of course, soldiers. They could quit their jobs and go home any time they wanted. Many were paid far higher wages than their military counterparts. They knew they were signing up to take a specific job in a dangerous part of the world.
And yet, neither are the contractors working in Afghanistan and Iraq ordinary laborers. Civilians compose half the manpower in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have seen and experienced the full horror of war. More than a thousand have been killed. Thousands more have suffereddebilitating physical and mental injuries. And yet, the Pentagon does not even know how many have died, nor how many are actually working (PDF).
I have come to see the civilian contractors as a new kind of class in the demography of war. They are quasi-veterans: civilians who have experienced war much as soldiers do. There are tens of thousands of them. And while it’s hard to argue that they deserve ticker tape parades and Medals of Honor, it’s also hard to believe that they should be sent home with little more than a pay stub and a patchy health care system that doesn’t even address basic medical needs.
I received a letter from a former KBR contractor which crystallized the strange position of those who work in a war zone. D.A. Corson, who worked at a variety of companies in Iraq until 2008, wrote the following, which I thought worth sharing: