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Our Articles on Wounded Iraq and Afghan Interpreters—Now in Arabic

Malek Hadi was working with the U.S. military police when a homemade bomb detonated beneath his Humvee in September 2006. (Allison V. Smith/For The Los Angeles Times.)Al Hayat, a pan-Arabic newspaper based in London, has translated and published a ProPublica story about the health care struggles faced by Iraqi and Afghan citizens wounded while working as interpreters for U.S. soldiers. Part of a continuing series on injured civilian contractors, the original story detailed how injured local interpreters suffered shoddy treatment in a system funded by American taxpayers to provide medical care and disability benefits. Many of the interpreters fled to the U.S. after becoming targets for the insurgency. Once here, they found themselves isolated and in poverty, fighting with private insurance companies who often denied claims for medical treatment. More than 360 Iraqi and Afghan interpreters died while working as translators for defense firms contracted with the military—a larger death toll than any other nation’s armed forces except for the United States.

To supplement Al Hayat’s coverage, ProPublica is translating and posting two related stories. The first piece concerns a doctor who treated hundreds of Iraqi interpreters while working for troubled insurance giant AIG in Jordan. Patients later complained that the doctor did not provide the appropriate treatment—a claim denied by the doctor. The English version is here. A second story takes a look at Iraqi support workers, who have sometimes settled their medical claims for a fraction of the total due to them by insurance providers. Here’s the original.

The Labor Department, which runs the system, required by a law known as the Defense Base Act, has exercised little oversight over the treatment provided to foreign workers. Despite promises to better enforce labor laws and widespread agreement that the contractor health care system is costly and ineffective, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis has largely avoided interviews and meetings with contractor groups seeking to reform the system.

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
Disposable Army

Disposable Army: Civilian Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan

War contractors return home with the same scars as soldiers, but without the support.

The Story So Far

Civilian contractors have been an indispensable part of the U.S. war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they have returned home without the support available for troops in uniform.

Tens of thousands of civilians have worked in the two battle zones, delivering fuel, protecting diplomats and translating for troops, among other jobs.

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