Wounded DoD Civilians Getting Poor Care
American civil service personnel ordered to deploy to war zones are getting very shoddy medical treatment if they are wounded, Ann Scott Tyson reports in a front page story in today’s WaPo. Rather than being treated in military hospitals and afforded the same benefits as uniformed personnel, they are forced to rely on a hodgepodge of Workman’s Compensation and their standard medical insurance, both of which tend to be inadequate.
During the early 1990s, a directive came down that civilian employees of the Defense Department were part of the “Total Force” and would be subject to deployment along with uniformed military personnel. That struck me as idiotic at the time, given that they are not trained as soldiers, generally are not physically ready for the demands of combat, and are in a gray area with regard to the protections of the Geneva Convention.
Still, anyone who has signed up to work for the DoD since then at least knows that deployment is a possibility when they accept the job. It’s incomprehensible to me, though, that they would not simply be integrated into the military system when so deployed.
Now, I argued yesterday that I am largely unsympathetic to the complaints of private contractors who sign up for hazardous duty for a large paycheck and don’t have adequate medical insurance. They are, essentially, mercenaries who took a gamble and lost.
Soldiers and career employees of the United States Government, however, are in a different category. It’s true that, as Tyson reports, those who accept deployment get a substantial bonus for doing so, “a 70 percent increase over their regular pay plus overtime.” Still, they are doing so out of loyalty to their team or because they can’t afford to quit their jobs. In any case, they’ve made a commitment to serve the country; they’re not private profiteers.
Bureaucracies are hard to reform and this is the first time we’ve deployed civilians on a large scale, so some mistakes were bound to happen. But, unlike some issues, this one strikes me as something that could be fixed overnight. The president merely has to issue an Executive Order making civilian government employees deployed to hazardous duty zones eligible for the same treatment accorded their uniformed cohorts. This one’s a no brainer.
Hat tip: “DC Loser.”