"There was nothing left . . . except his right forearm"
The people the government wants US to forget . . .
Drivers, who are prohibited from carrying weapons, are a daily target, and none more so than those who do the job that Meredith did . . .
On Aug. 12, 2005, his convoy of 11 civilian trucks and four military tanks was finishing a delivery of prefabricated buildings to a military base when two improvised explosive devices went off, killing a driver whom Meredith identified as Larry Stilwell. The convoy commander ordered Meredith to recover the body amid small-arms fire. "There was nothing left of the man except his right forearm," Meredith said. "He had literally been blown to pieces."
Now the image of Stilwell's arm has followed Meredith home to Kansas. He says he can no longer drive a truck -- the only job he has ever known -- because of medication he takes for post-traumatic stress disorder. He has had to hire an attorney to fight for workers' compensation from the insurance purchased on his behalf by Kellogg Brown & Root. Meanwhile, he is facing foreclosure on his home.* * *Kellogg Brown & Root, which has 50,000 contractors working across the Middle East, says it repeatedly warns its workers about the dangers in Iraq. [It's not our fault that they're desperate!]
"In fact, during the training process, we spend most of our time giving recruits all the reasons they should NOT accept this job," the company said in a statement after the Wheeler video aired.
So, why do these men take these jobs? For many of the same reasons why enlisted men and women enlist - because there is NOTHING even remotely comparable for them here, at home.
But, notice how the company absolves itself of any responsibility for the terrible choice these men and women make. They set salaries just high enough for people who have no other prospects to consider it worth risking their lives to earn.
And they offer them nothing else. Why? Because they don't have to.
Once a civilian has accepted a position like that, not only have they categorized themselves as expendable, they've alienated themselves from all the people who ordinarily would have stood by them, but who resent making three or four times less for taking similar risks.
The perception that contractors are getting rich working in Iraq -- a truck driver can earn $80,000 a year, about four times the salary of an Army private -- has also undermined the public support for them, said Jana Crowder, a Tennessee homemaker who started the website AmericanContractorsinIraq.com.Contractors beware - no one will ever assign a value to your life higher than that which you assign for yourself.
When a contractor dies, "a lot of Americans think, well, he got paid to do what he did, to get killed," she said, adding that the discrepancy in pay also creates hostility between the contractors and the troops.
Then, of course, whatever responsibility remains for the welfare of these men, security companies shift to insurance companies, many of which these same companies have a stake in.
The company said it was up to its insurance company to determine benefits in the case of injury or death.Let that sink in for a minute. Insurance companies would rather pay a team of attorneys at the very least $70/hr to make sure that these men don't get the support that they NEED than pay the benefits agreed upon in contract.
So, tell me again - who is the enemy?
Peter Singer, a specialist on private contractors at the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank, said the dangerous roles filled by contractors in Iraq have been deliberately downplayed by the government.What they dare not admit to the public, they make every effort to hide. What else do you think they're hiding?
"If you admit to it, if you say, `We have 20,000 to 35,000 contractors running around the country,' then that shows they don't have enough [military] forces there," Singer said.
[Steven Thompson, of North Carolina, ] is also troubled by the memory of driving past a lone, burning fuel tanker on the road, only to realize later that its dead driver -- Kevin Rader, of Utah -- had been part of his convoy.'The government' is nothing but a front for corporations.
Thompson said he is angry that the military escorts did not do more to protect Rader's truck. He is also angry that he hasn't received help from the US government or Kellogg Brown & Root since he returned.
"The government wants you to forget about us," Thompson said. "They don't want people to know there's a problem."
They want us to forget these people, like they would want these people to forget us if we were in their position, and like they want us to forget the folks in New Orleans, and the people in Afghanistan, and Iraqis, and Palestinians, and the list goes on.
There is only ONE common denominator between us that they want us to always remember - and to dedicate our lives to - until every last one of us is DEAD and BURIED.
If you or someone you know is considering working overseas for one of these vulture corporations, think hard about whether your life - of which you only have one - is worth a few thousand of their worthless dollars.