Journalism in the Public Interest

ProPublica’s T. Christian Miller Talks About Injured War Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan

Credit: Lars KloveIn recent years, the Pentagon has come to increasingly rely on private military contractors to do the work that members of the military used to do. But as the number of civilian contractors has grown, so too has the number of deaths and injuries of those contractors and with it, the cost of paying health care benefits for their injury claims.

T. Christian Miller recently won the Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting for his coverage of the numerous obstacles contractors face when they’ve been injured and try to collect benefits. We spoke to him about who is responsible for taking care of injured contractors, the ordeal they have to go through to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, the role AIG plays in this, contractor suicide rates and how Congress is addressing the problem.

We also hear from one of the people facing the difficulties Miller has documented. Bill Carlisle Jr. was a contractor with defense firm KBR. He sustained both physical and psychological injuries, and is now fighting insurer AIG for the benefits he says they owe him.

Articles discussed in this podcast:

Injured War Zone Contractors Fight to Get Care From AIG and Other Insurers

The Other Victims of Battlefield Stress; Defense Contractors’ Mental Health Neglected

Injured Abroad, Neglected at Home: Labor Dept. Slow to Help War Zone Contractors

Labor Dept., Congress Plan Improvements to System to Care for Injured War Contractors

Pentagon Study Proposes Overhaul of Defense Base Act to Cover Care for injured Contractors

Marcie Hascall Clark

March 11, 2010, 7:11 p.m.

I hope anyone who listens to this interview understands that Bill Carlisle Jr is about to lose his home, not just his house, and not due to any fault of his own.
He kept up his end of the agreement to work for KBR and KBR, AIG, and the DoL are spiraling him to hell.
So what if he wins what he is due in the ALJ system, it won’t bring back his HOME, his life, his credit will be ruined.
KBR, AIG, the lawyers, they won’t miss a bit of sleep.
Thanks T Miller and ProPublica for you efforts to expose these jackals.

Marcie Hascall Clark

March 12, 2010, 9:48 a.m.

Thank you Mike Webb, T Miller, and ProPublica for your continuing coverage of the abusive Defense Base Act Workers Comp insurance companies and injured war zone workers.
As you know, Bill is just one of hundreds that we talk with who are being abused financially, medically, and mentally by AIG and CNA.
This is a very dangerous form of harassment intended to wear down the injured until they give up or accept considerably less than they are owed just to get these vultures out of their lives.
AIG and CNA, their claims adjusters, and their lawyers are ruthless when it comes to earning a dollar for themselves by denying medical treatment and disability payments. 
They leave a path of destruction in their wake that broadens by the day, while our elected officials and government cast us a blind eye.

Linda Fitchett

March 12, 2010, 1:06 p.m.

Thank you for this excellent reporting. AIIC (the International Association of Conference Interpreters) recently launched a project to help shed light on the plight of interpreters in conflict areas – including the non-professional language personnel contracted by foreign forces in war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan. There are thousands of these vital intermediaries and they have been very much affected by lack of protection both during and post conflict – and are, as you say, often threatened as traitors or mercenaries by some of their own countrymen.They lose life and limbs on mission with the troops. They aren’t given priority when seeking asylum. The insurance problem is a big one – many of these people are locally recruited. They cannot fight through US courts. We hope that articles like yours will be relayed and bring better protection for all these people in the future.

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