Journalism in the Public Interest

Disposable Army

While suicide among soldiers has been a focus of Congress and the public, relatively little attention has been paid to the mental health of tens of thousands of civilian contractors returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. More »

In 2004, Lane was driving a fuel truck in Iraq for a defense contractor when insurgents attacked his convoy with rocket-propelled grenades. For most of the five years since, Lane, now 60, has spent his days in silence -- a reminder of the hidden costs of relying on civilian contract workers to support the U.S. war effort. More »

Tens of thousands of civilian contract workers from poverty-stricken countries who are hired to support the U.S. war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan and get injured there and families of those killed are covered by American taxpayer-funded insurance, but it often fails to deliver. More »

Civilian contractors play an ever-greater role in Iraq and Afghanistan. But once they come home, their insurers often deny them their benefits, while the Labor Department fails to act. More »

Forgotten Warrior: Tim Newman
Forgotten Warrior: Russell Skoug

All 37 Stories (8)

  updates since last visit

Iraq War Contractor Fined for Late Reports of 30 Casualties

The Sandi Group was fined $75,000 after delaying reports to the U.S. government that more than 30 of its workers had died or been injured.

Bill Introduced to Reform Workers’ Comp for Military Contractors

A proposed update to the Defense Base Act would provide a federal program for workers' compensation for military contractors killed or injured on the job.

U.S. Insurance Firm Neglects Survivors of Iraqi Translators, May Face Criminal Charges

Chicago-based CNA Financial Corp. faces possible investigation after failing to pay death benefits to survivors of Iraqi translators working to help the U.S. mission in Iraq.

This Year, Contractor Deaths Exceed Military Ones in Iraq and Afghanistan

More contractors than soldiers died in Iraq and Afghanistan in the first six months of 2010, the first time that contractor deaths have exceeded military ones.

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

Defense contractors in the field suffer war trauma just as soldiers do—but don’t have the insurance safety net veterans enjoy.

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

Foreign Interpreters Hurt in Battle Find U.S. Insurance Benefits Wanting

Translators injured helping rebuild Iraq sometimes find the medical benefits they were promised are not forthcoming.

Lost in Limbo: Injured Afghan Translators Struggle to Survive

Afghan translators working for the U.S. often find that when they are injured, even the promised help is sometimes hard to get.

For AIG’s Man in Jordan, War Becomes a Business Opportunity

Emad Hatabah coordinated the care for hundreds of Iraqis working for U.S. troops, a role that benefited his own medical network.

Blinded From a Sniper Bullet and Shortchanged by the System

An Iraqi who was injured while helping in the U.S. war effort says AIG's settlement treated him unfairly.

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

The government's lack of action has allowed abuse of the system set up to ensure medical care for injured civilians.

Honoring Veterans of the Disposable Army

A reporter argues that civilian contractors injured or killed while working in Iraq or Afghanistan should also be remembered on Veterans Day.

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

Officials are making changes to track the performance of insurers and to speed up the handling of their disputes with injured contractors.

Civilian Contractor Toll in Iraq and Afghanistan Ignored by Defense Dept.

More than 1,600 civilian workers have died in the war zones, but the Pentagon isn't tracking the casualties.

Contractors in Iraq Are Hidden Casualties of War

Reggie Lane, a struggling truck driver, hired on for a good salary with a defense contractor, but a rocket-propelled grenade shattered his life.

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

Congress could save as much as $250 million a year through a sweeping overhaul of the controversial U.S. system to care for civilian contractors injured in war zones, according to a new Pentagon study.

Congressman Announces Plan to Reform U.S. System to Care for Injured Civilian Contractors

Rep. Elijah Cummings said he hoped his proposal would reduce the $300 million a year paid by defense contractors to insurance companies.

Sometimes It’s Not Your War, But You Sacrifice Anyway

Although low-paid foreign contract workers face many of the same risks soldiers do in Iraq and Afghanistan, they rarely are informed of their rights or even receive the care that has already been purchased by U.S. taxpayers.

Company That Probes War Contractor Injuries for AIG Is Itself Under Scrutiny

The Labor Department is looking into whether a Maltese company misrepresented its employees as agents of the U.S. government.

Dobleng Dusa ang Nakuha sa Pagtatrabaho para sa Amerika

Read a translation in Filipino of the June 19, 2009, story, "Foreign Workers for U.S. Are Casualties Twice Over."

Report Finds Advantages in Gov’t Takeover of Care for Injured Contractors

Citing high insurance premiums paid by the Pentagon, the Congressional Research Service suggests cutting out the middleman.

Contractor Care May Figure in Obama’s Meeting With Filipino President

A senator in Manila presses for proper compensation of those injured or killed while working for the U.S. in war zones.

News Analysis: Broad Agreement That Workers’ Comp Program for War-Zone Workers Needs Fixing

Lawmakers, Obama administration officials, private insurance companies and contractors found common ground in acknowledging there are serious flaws in the government's system for taking care of civilian workers injured or killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Foreign Workers for U.S. Are Casualties Twice Over

Contract employees injured in the conflict zones of Iraq and Afghanistan and families of those killed there are covered by American taxpayer-funded insurance, but it often fails to deliver.

In One Filipino Town, Workers Injured in Iraq Depend on the Kindness of AIG

Three men from the Filipino town of Lutopan served as part of the invisible army that daily cares for and feeds U.S. soldiers in Iraq. But when one died and the other two were injured, their treatment was far from uniform.

Congressional Hearing: Officials Admit Major Flaws in Program to Aid Wounded War-Zone Workers

Lawmakers criticized a federal program that relies on private insurance companies to provide medical care and benefits to civilians injured while working in Iraq and Afghanistan as injured war contractors confronted the executives of the companies they have been fighting for care.

AIG, KBR and CNA Face New Questions About Insurance for Injured Civilian Contractors

Despite his company spending more than $300,000 this year on lobbying, a Chicago-based carrier CNA executive will testify alongside AIG executives at a hearing on insurance for civilian contractors injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Pentagon’s IG to Examine AIG Insurance Provided to Private Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan

The Defense Department is considering an audit into unpaid medical benefits, after an investigation by LA Times, ABC News and ProPublica led to calls for action from Congress.

Senate Hearing on AIG Care for Contractors Injured in Iraq Postponed Until June

A Senate hearing into the Pentagon's failure to collect billions of dollars from AIG and other insurers has been pushed back, Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., announces.

Kucinich Asks AIG Why It’s Denying Claims From Injured Contractors in Iraq

In a letter to the insurer, Rep. Kucinich, D-Ohio, says he was "alarmed" by a recent investigation by ProPublica, ABC News and the LA Times. Hearings are expected this summer.

Military Fails to Collect From AIG for Care to Injured Contractors

The Pentagon is unable to meet its own regulations on obtaining reimbursements from insurers, a federal report finds, costing the military millions for the treatment of wounded contractors.

AIG Faces Inquiry Over Medical Care for U.S. Contractors

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., has called for an investigation following a report by ProPublica, the LA Times and ABC News that found AIG and other insurers often denied medical treatment for contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

‘Forgotten Warriors’: Tim Newman’s Story

After losing his leg to an IED in Baghdad, a DynCorp employee became an advocate for wounded contractors fighting to get benefits from their insurers. Then he wound up in a fight of his own.

‘Forgotten Warriors’: Russell Skoug’s Story

As a contractor in Iraq, Skoug nearly lost his life when his vehicle hit an anti-tank mine. But the real shock hit when his employer’s insurance company refused to pay his medical bills.

‘Forgotten Warriors’: Explanation of Analysis

The Los Angeles Times and ProPublica spent more than 18 months examining the hidden world of civilian contractor injuries.

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

Civilian contractors play an ever-greater role in Iraq and Afghanistan. But once they come home, their insurers often deny them their benefits, while the Labor Department fails to act.

Civilian Contractors by the Numbers

Iraqi Army Headcount Still Unclear Despite Millions Paid to Private Contractor

Contractors’ Stories

 Video: Forgotten Warriors From Abroad, Los Angeles Times, June 19, 2009

 Video: In Their Shoes: Foreign Contractors in Iraq, “Someone Else’s War”

 Tim Newman: How One Contractor Is Making a Difference, ProPublica, April 16, 2009

 Russell Skoug: When No One Would Pay, ProPublica,
April 16, 2009

 Slideshow: Rita’s Walk, Los Angeles Times, April 16, 2009

 Did AIG Neglect Injured Contractors?, ABC News, April 17, 2009

 John Woodson Tells His Story, ABC News, April 16, 2009

Document Dive
Our Partners

The original story on injured war zone contractors was co-published with the Los Angeles Times.

A version of the original story were co-produced with the Brian Ross Investigative Unit for ABC News’ 20/20.

Our stories on foreign contractors have also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post and on Salon.


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