Thursday, July 26, 2007

[wvns] "Civilian" Soldiers Denied Army Benefits

"Civilian" Soldiers denied Army benefits

"Helms, 31, a civilian counterintelligence expert with the Army's
902nd Military Intelligence Group, had been sent to Iraq in 2004 to
help fill a critical intelligence gap in the area known as the Sunni
Triangle. While in Iraq, he lived with soldiers and ate military
rations, took fire from mortar rounds and small arms, and clocked
hundreds of miles manning a machine gun on the back of a Humvee.
Nevertheless, his status as an Army civilian would leave him stranded
in the aftermath of the June 16, 2004, attack, when the bomb hit his
Humvee so hard it blew his M-60 off its turret. In the months that
followed, Helms recalled, he was denied vital care for his wounds --
ranging from shrapnel in his left arm to traumatic brain injury.
Forced to rely on federal workers' compensation and turned away from
regular care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and other military
hospitals, Helms has faced years of frustration grappling with
bureaucracies unprepared to help a government civilian wounded in combat.

"I did not have an 'accident' while working. I was subjected
to an offensive attack by an enemy of the U.S. government
who attempted to kill me," said Helms, now a counterintelligence
agent at the 902nd's Fort Knox, Ky., field office. "Why am I under

workers' comp if workers' comp does not recognize a combat injury?"
As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan strain the U.S. military, the
Pentagon is sending civilian workers such as Helms into war zones to
provide critical support to the troops, raising questions about their
status and treatment." Ann Tyson

.. Answers?



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